Thirteen UChicago faculty receive named, distinguished service professorships

Thirteen University of Chicago faculty members have received named professorships or have been appointed distinguished service professors.

Profs. Clifford Ando, John Birge, Frances Ferguson, Vinay Kumar, Ka Yee C. Lee and Linda Waite received distinguished service professorships, while Profs. Neil Brenner, Junhong Chen, Scott Eggener, Timothy Harrison, Eric Pamer, Mercedes Pascual and Brook Ziporyn received named professorships.

Division of the Biological Sciences

Scott Eggener has been named the Bruce and Beth White Family Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Radiology.

Eggener is a urologic oncologist and surgeon who specializes in prostate, kidney and testicular cancer. He is Vice Chair of Urology, senior scholar at the Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence and co-director of UChicago Medicine High-Risk and Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinic (UCHAP).

He has published more than 250 research papers, chaired or participated in multiple national cancer guideline panels, had editorial roles at multiple journals and is on the executive board of International Volunteers in Urology.

Vinay Kumar has been named the Lowell T. Coggeshall Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Pathology.

Kumar is a pioneer in the field of the cellular and molecular biology of natural killer cells and a global leader in medical education. He was one of the first to propose the existence of a novel subset of lymphoid cells with antileukemic activity, subsequently identified as natural killer cells. His research has focused on understanding the origin and differentiation of these cells and their role in the rejection of transplanted bone marrow. His group also discovered that mutations in the human perforin gene give rise to severe and fatal disorders of immune dysregulation. This paradigm-shifting work has been recognized as a “pillar of immunology” by the Journal of Immunology.

He is the senior editor and co-author of five pathology textbooks, including Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, which has been translated into more than 13 languages and is the most widely used pathology text in the world. He has received many honors for his research, including election as a fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Sciences in 2004, and the 2019 Gold Headed Cane Award, which is the highest honor granted by the American Society for Investigative Pathology.

Eric Pamer has been named the first Donald F. Steiner Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pathology and the College.

Pamer, a physician who specializes in infectious diseases, investigates host defense against infections and the role of commensal bacteria in disease resistance. His research focuses on mechanisms by which the microbiome confers resistance to a wide range of microbial pathogens. His lab has discovered and characterized interactions between pathogenic and beneficial bacteria and their mammalian hosts, and has identified multiple novel mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance that can be exploited to fight highly antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

He joined the university last year as inaugural director of the Duchossois Family Institute at the University of Chicago Medicine, which seeks to carry out groundbreaking research on how the human immune system, microbiome and genetics interact to maintain health.

Pamer is a member of the American Association of Physicians and of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Scientific Advisory Committee. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters.

Mercedes Pascual has been named the Louis Block Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the College.

Pascual studies the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases. She is a leader in the field of how disease spreads through populations based on changes to the environment, in particular how climate variability and climate change affect vector-borne and water-borne diseases like malaria and cholera.

Her work spans multiple temporal, spatial and organizational scales, from decades-long patterns in disease incidence to within megacity maps of infection risk, to the molecular changes in pathogens as they evolve to escape the immune system. She is addressing how transmission dynamics and evolution interact to generate strain structure in local populations of the malaria parasite, and how this diversity affects responses to intervention measures. She combines mathematical, statistical and computational approaches with collaboration with public health and research partners around the world.

Pascual is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of the 2014 R. MacArthur Award of the Ecological Society of America.

Division of the Humanities

Clifford Ando has been named the David B. and Clara E. Stern Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Classics and History and the College. 

A prolific author, Ando writes on a wide range of topics within the histories of religion, law and government in the ancient world. Recently he has turned his attention to issues in legal history, the nature of domination in republican empires and the conduct of legal and political theory in contexts of weak state power.

He is currently working on a collaborative project to produce a new edition of the surviving texts of Roman statutes, and a rhetorical and sociolinguistic study of legal Latin from archaic Rome to the medieval period.

Ando served as the Lucy Shoe Merritt Scholar in Residence from 2014 to 2015 at the American Academy in Rome, and received the 2012 Frederich Wilhelm Bessel Research Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has been a visiting scholar or research fellow at 12 other institutions outside the United States, including in France, Germany, England, New Zealand and South Africa.

Frances Ferguson has been named the Mabel Greene Myers Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and the College.

While she focuses her scholarship on writing from the 18th century and the Romantic period, Ferguson has wide-ranging scholarly interests, including such topics as pornography, Edmund Burke’s and Immanuel Kant’s accounts of aesthetics and philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s thinking on law and constitutions. She has held several visiting professorships, most recently at the University of Cambridge. There, Ferguson gave a public lecture about the relationship between Bitcoin and Blockchain, the place of whales in the Bitcoin community, and the tension between using Bitcoin for currency and using it for investment.

Her forthcoming book aims to describe 18th- and early 19th-century efforts to democratize education. Ferguson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2011, she received the Distinguished Scholar Award for lifetime achievement from the Keats-Shelley Association of America.

Timothy Harrison has been named the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Assistant Professor of Renaissance and Early Modern English Literature in the Department of English Language and Literature and the College.

He focuses his scholarship on how early modern literature intersects with multidisciplinary fields of study, including philosophy, theology and the sciences. Currently, Harrison is the director of the undergraduate program in Renaissance Studies, a program he developed with UChicago historian Ada Palmer.

His first book, Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in fall 2020. This book examines the role played by poetry in the emergence of the concept of consciousness through the lens of the poetry and prose of John Milton and Thomas Traherne alongside such philosophers as René Descartes and John Locke.

His current work includes researching and writing The Being of Effort in Early Modernity, which extends his work on consciousness into the realm of biology by exploring how Milton's poetry develops an account of life as it is lived that draws on the resources of both the Reformation theology of the will and the philosophical ideas expressed by such thinkers as Thomas Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway.

Division of the Physical Sciences

Ka Yee C. Lee has been named the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry and the College.

Lee was appointed Provost of the University of Chicago in February 2020. She previously served as the Vice Provost for Research, working with deans, faculty and researchers across the University to increase access to research funding and resources. She has played a lead role in the University’s activities and partnerships in Hong Kong over the past six years, including the opening of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.

Lee’s research focus lies in the area of membrane biophysics, and she is the author or co-author of more than 125 scholarly publications. Her laboratory carries out fundamental studies on the interactions between lipids and proteins. Her work brings a greater understanding of diseases that are the result of deficient or abnormal protein-lipid interactions, such as respiratory distress syndrome and Parkinson’s disease.

Lee is an elected member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a fellow of the American Physical Society. Previously, she was a Searle Scholar, a David and Lucile Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering and a Sloan Research Fellow. She received the University’s Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2007 and was the inaugural recipient of the Arthur L. Kelly Prize for Exceptional Faculty Service in the Physical Sciences Division in 2013.

Division of the Social Sciences

Neil Brenner has been named the Lucy Flower Professor of Urban Sociology in the Department of Sociology and the College.

His work, in both teaching and writing, centers on the theoretical, conceptual and methodological dimensions of urban questions, especially in relation to the remaking of cities and their hinterlands under contemporary supply chain capitalism. Brenner has made influential contributions to scholarly debates on critical urban theory, the critique of capitalist urbanization, urban restructuring, state space, the political economy of rescaling, variegated neoliberalization and planetary urbanization. 

Brenner’s most recent books are New Urban Spaces: Urban Theory and the Scale Question and Critique of Urbanization: Selected Essays. Prior to joining UChicago in July 2020, Brenner was a Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Linda Waite has been named as the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology and the College.

Her research interests include social demography, aging, the family, sexuality, and health, as well as the links between biology, psychology, and the social world. Waite is Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago. Her current research focuses on the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), which is yielding groundbreaking knowledge about the links between the social world and physical, cognitive and emotional health among older Americans.

In addition to her position at NORC, she also serves as a co-director of the University of Chicago’s MD/PhD Program in Medicine, the Social Sciences, and Aging, and chairs the Committee on Demographic Training at the University of Chicago and NORC.

Booth School of Business

John R. Birge has been named the Hobart W. Williams Distinguished Service Professor of Operations Management.

Birge studies mathematical modeling of systems under uncertainty, especially for maximizing operational and financial goals, using the methodologies of stochastic programming and large-scale optimization. He is the recipient of the Best Paper Award from the Japan Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Fellows Award, the Institute of Industrial Engineers Medallion Award, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

A former dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Northwestern University, he has consulted for a variety of firms including the University of Michigan Hospitals, Deutsche Bank, Allstate Insurance Company and Morgan Stanley, and uses cases from these experiences in his teaching.

Birge is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, the Mathematical Optimization Society, the Mathematical Association of America and Sigma Xi.

Divinity School

Brook A. Ziporyn has been named the Mircea Eliade Professor in the Divinity School and the College.

A scholar of ancient and medieval Chinese religion and philosophy, Ziporyn is a premier expositor and translator of some of the most complex philosophical texts and concepts in Chinese religious traditions with a particular expertise in the Tiantai school of Buddhist thought.  He also teaches comparative philosophy.

The author of seven books on issues in Taoism, Buddhism and Chinese thought, Ziporyn is currently working on two projects: one a cross-cultural inquiry into the themes of death, time and perception, and the other an exposition of atheism as a form of religious and mystical experience in the intellectual histories of Europe, India and China.

Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

Junhong Chen has been named the Crown Family Professor of Molecular Engineering.

Chen serves as lead water strategist at Argonne National Laboratory. His research interest lies in molecular engineering of nanomaterials and nanodevices, particularly hybrid nanomaterials featuring rich interfaces and nanodevices for sustainable energy and the environment. Chen has made seminal contributions to hybrid nanomaterials and the molecular engineering of various sensors and energy devices.

His research has led to nine issued U.S. patents, five pending patents, and 13 licensing agreements. He is a pioneer in technology translation and commercialization; his start-up company NanoAffix, which he founded to commercialize real-time water sensors based on 2-D nanomaterials, is a recipient of the 2016 Wisconsin Innovation Award.

Chen is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a recipient of the International Association of Advanced Materials Medal.