Twenty-three UChicago faculty receive named, distinguished service professorships

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

Profs. Cathy Cohen, Martha Feldman, Erik Hurst, Chad Syverson and Matthew Tirrell received distinguished service professorships, while Profs. Ufuk Akcigit, Vineet Arora, Sliman Bensmaia, Stéphane Bonhomme, Daniel Brudney, René Caldentey, Frances Ferguson, Lucy Godley, Günter J. Hitsch, Richard Hornbeck, Valluvan Jeevanandam, Stuart A. Kurtz, Diane Lauderdale, Armando Maggi, Christine Mehring, Mark Payne, Robert K. Ritner and Matthew Stephens received named professorships.

Division of the Biological Sciences

Vineet Arora has been named the Herbert T. Abelson Professor in the Department of Medicine.

Arora is an academic hospitalist and medical educator who specializes in improving the learning environment for medical trainees and the quality, safety and experience of care delivered to hospitalized adults. She currently serves as the associate chief medical officer for the Clinical Learning Environment at UChicago Medicine and assistant dean for scholarship and discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine.

Arora’s work bridges medical education and hospital leadership to transform learning and care delivered in teaching hospitals. She is an internationally recognized expert on patient handoffs in health care and also has extensive expertise using technology, such as social media, to improve medical education. She was named to the National Academy of Medicine in 2019.

Sliman Bensmaia has been named the James and Karen Frank Family Professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and the College.

Bensmaia is a neuroscientist who studies how sensory information is encoded in the nervous system, including the sense of touch and of the position of limbs as they move through space. His lab uses these discoveries to help develop prosthetic limbs that can restore a realistic sense of touch to amputees and paralyzed patients.

Bensmaia’s lab develops algorithms to recreate the sense of touch through brain computer interfaces that convert the output of sensors on bionic hands into patterns of stimulation of the brain that then give rise to artificial touch sensations. Using a biomimetic approach, they aim to mimic the biological processes underlying how the nervous system communicates signals from the hand to the brain to create lifelike sensations of touch and confer to the bionic hands greater dexterity. He is currently applying these algorithms in human patients who can control bionic hands with their mind and receive sensory feedback from them.

Lucy Godley has been named the first Hospira Foundation Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Human Genetics.

Godley is an expert in the care and treatment of patients with diseases of the bone marrow, including leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma. She also cares for patients undergoing stem cell transplantation and patients with benign hematologic conditions. She has a special interest in the molecular basis of bone marrow malignancies and is an active researcher in the field.

Godley seeks to improve health through a deeper understanding and appreciation of science by integrating knowledge about fundamental networks within cancer cells and by bringing novel insights into the pathophysiology of her patients' diseases while offering them new treatment options. Her research focuses on the germline genetic mutations and acquired epigenetic modifications that drive oncogenesis, particularly for hematopoietic malignancies. She has established the clinical standard for germline predisposition testing for patients with personal and family histories of hematopoietic cancers. She also co-chairs several panels and workshops to establish standards for clinical laboratories, fosters learning and stimulates research on these diseases.

Valluvan Jeevanandam has been named the Cynthia Chow Professor in the Department of Surgery.

Jeevanandam is chief of the Section of Cardiac Surgery and director of the Heart and Vascular Center. He specializes in the surgical management of heart failure, and is an expert in high-risk cardiac surgery. He has performed more than 1,200 heart transplants and countless cardiac surgery procedures. In 2018, Jeevanandam was part of the team that performed two triple organ transplants within 27 hours; he has now directed the heart transplants in all 10 of UChicago Medicine’s heart-liver-kidney surgeries.

Jeevanandam is also a pioneer in the field of mechanical circulatory assist devices, and has a special interest in treating patients traditionally considered inoperable. He has repaired damaged hearts in innumerable patients awaiting transplant. He also has successfully performed transplants involving patients who do not fit the standard criteria for transplant, and has received international attention for his skill in performing bloodless cardiac surgery, which minimizes blood loss during the procedure, sparing the need for a blood transfusion.

Diane Lauderdale has been named the Louis Block Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and the College.

Chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, Lauderdale is an epidemiologist whose research examines how behavioral and social factors influence health. Her recent work has focused on sleep as a behavioral risk factor, including how people’s perceptions of sleep duration and disruption are related to objective sleep measures, how social factors such as social connectedness and loneliness relate to sleep, and how both sleep perceptions and objective measures are associated with health outcomes, finding marked racial, socioeconomic, and gender disparities among middle-aged adults.

Lauderdale also has carried out a series of studies about the health of immigrants to the United States, including studies of mortality, pre-immigration influence on late-life health, ethnic enclave variation in health behaviors, and discrimination effects on health. She also directs the MS for Clinical Professionals in Public Health Sciences, a degree program that prepares clinicians to carry out research in clinical epidemiology and health services research.

Matthew Stephens has been named the Ralph W. Gerard Professor in the Departments of Statistics and Human Genetics and the College.

Stephens’ research focuses on a wide variety of problems at the interface of statistics and genetics. His lab often tackles problems where novel statistical methods are required, or can learn something new compared with existing approaches. Much of that work involves developing new statistical methodologies, many of which have a non-trivial computational component. As data sets get larger and larger, that work often involves modern methods for high-dimensional statistics, making extensive use of Bayesian hierarchical models to borrow information across data sets or sampling units.

Stephens has helped develop several widely used software tools and statistical models, and is currently working on making his lab’s research more open, reproducible and extensible.

Division of the Humanities

Daniel Brudney has been named the first Florin Harrison Pugh Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the College.

Brudney writes and teaches in political philosophy, bioethics, philosophy and literature, and the philosophy of religion. He is also associate faculty in the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and in the Divinity School.

He is the author of Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy (Harvard, 1998). Among his honors is the 2014 Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Martha Feldman has been named the Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Music, Romance Languages and Literatures and the College.

A cultural historian of European vernacular music from 1500 to 1950, Feldman considers questions about mediations between social, political and artistic phenomena in the context of relevant areas of study, such as myth, cinema, media, voice and the musical artist. Her scholarship has ranged from madrigals in Renaissance Venice to the music of courtesans and from myths in opera during 18th-century Italy to the study of castrati, the classic male singing equivalent to sopranos. For her work, Opera and Sovereignty: Transforming Myths in Eighteenth Century Italy (2007), Feldman won the Gordon J. Laing Award in 2010 from the UChicago Press.

Among her multiple awards, Feldman received the Dent Medal from the Royal Musical Association for scholarship in musicology in 2001 and the Graduate Teaching Award from the University of Chicago in 2009. She was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and is a recent past president of the American Musicological Society.

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

Focusing her scholarship on writing from the 18th century and the Romantic period, Ferguson has wide-ranging scholarly interests, which include the rise of literary criticism, the contribution of British Dissenters to education and politics in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the development of congregational and literary hymns. Her scholarship has addressed such topics as pornography, the aesthetics of individuation, Jeremy Bentham’s thinking on law and constitutions and, most recently, Bitcoin.

Her forthcoming book, Designing Education, examines the rise of mass education and takes up the cases of readers for young children, monitorial schools, and early lectures on rhetoric and composition.

Armando Maggi has been named the Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor in Western Civilization in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the College.

His scholarship focuses on early-modern intellectual history (Renaissance philosophy, magic and demonology, Neoplatonic love treatises, Renaissance emblems, baroque literature) and contemporary culture. 

His latest work is the volume entitled Preserving the Spell (University of Chicago Press, 2015; Premio Flaiano Italianistica, 2016) on the Western canon of folk and fairy tales. Currently, Maggi is writing a book with the working title “The World in Ruins,” which investigates our contemporary view of destruction and decay, and a study of the 16th-century concept of “sign” with special focus on the obscure discipline called “metoposcopy.” He has recently completed essays on the issues of slavery and abuse of power in early-modern fairy tales and on Calderón de la Barca’s representations of demonic possession.

Christine Mehring has been named the Mary L. Block Professor in the Department of Art History and the College.

Mehring’s research focuses on abstraction in modern and contemporary art and the ways in which non-mimetic forms, colors and nontraditional materials are related to specific historical contexts. For example, she spearheaded the project “Material Matters,” which included research, material investigation and conservation of Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell’s Concrete Traffic (1970) through collaboration with conservator Christian Scheidemann. Created from a 1957 Cadillac covered in 14 tons of concrete, this enormous public sculpture returned to the UChicago campus in 2016, kicking off a yearlong University program, which included an exhibition of Vostell’s work with concrete that Mehring curated with her former PhD advisee Caroline Schopp at the Smart Museum of Art.

In addition to receiving multiple grants and funding from prominent foundations, Mehring received the UChicago Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 2011. Currently, she also serves as chair of the Department of Art History and is an adjunct curator at the Smart Museum of Art.

Mark Payne has been named the Chester D. Tripp Professor in the Departments of Classics, Comparative Literature, John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought and the College.

Payne is the author of four books: Theocritus and the Invention of Fiction(2007); The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination (2010), for which he received the 2011 Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism; Hontology: Depressive Anthropology and the Shame of Life (2018); and Flowers of Time: On Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, which will be published by Princeton University Press in 2020.  

He has worked widely in ancient and modern poetry, plant and animal studies, and speculative fiction. Payne cherishes collaborative projects on antiquity, including his work with visual artist Asad Raza, and with poet Stephanie Burt, whose new translation of Callimachus is forthcoming from Princeton University Press’s Lockert Poetry in translation series. 

Robert K. Ritner has been named the first Rowe Professor of Egyptology. 

A leading expert in Egyptian religion, magic, medicine, language and literature, Ritner is the author of The Libyan Anarchy: Inscriptions from Egypt's Third Intermediate Period, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, and Essays for the Library of Seshat, among other publications.

In association with The Field Museum of Chicago, Ritner was the academic adviser for its current Egypt installation and for two British Museum exhibits: “Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth” and “Eternal Egypt.”

Division of the Physical Sciences

Stuart A. Kurtz has been named the George and Elizabeth Yovovich Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the College.

Kurtz is a theoretical computer scientist who studies computational logic, type theory, complexity theory and randomness. He also has made research contributions in biological computing, bioinformatics and constructive logic. He served as chair of the Department of Computer Science twice, from 1997 to 2003 and again from 2006 to 2009.

In 2009, he received the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He currently serves as master of the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division. 

Division of the Social Sciences

Ufuk Akcigit has been named the inaugural Arnold C. Harberger Professor in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics and the College.

A macroeconomist who examines economic growth, entrepreneurship, and the economics of innovation, productivity, and firm dynamics, Akcigit is a leader in the study of innovation and its role in economic growth. By recruiting microlevel data to inform macroeconomic models, his work unites traditionally separate approaches in the field. By compiling large-scale historical and international datasets, he brings empirical evidence to bear on questions of longstanding theoretical interest. 

Akcigit’s contributions to scholarship and policy have been recognized by a number of prestigious awards, including a National Science Foundation Career Award, the Asaf Savas Akat Economics Prize, and the Kiel Institute Excellence Award in Global Economic Affairs. Most recently, he was awarded the 2019 Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award. His research is widely cited in policy reports, including those issued by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

Stéphane Bonhomme has been named the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics and the College.

An econometrician with methodological focus on latent variable modeling and panel data, Bonhomme forges connections between econometric theory and econometric practice—an important tradition for UChicago economics. He has contributed to several important lines of research, including how to accommodate heterogeneity—a long-standing problem in the social sciences—in a flexible but feasible way. Some of the questions he addresses in his empirical work include the study of income inequality and mobility, the role of firms and workers in wage determination, and the joint dynamics of income and consumption.

His research has been internationally recognized by a number of publications in top journals in economics. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society and of the International Association for Applied Econometrics, a co-editor of the Econometric Society Monograph Series, and an associate editor of the Journal of EconometricsQuantitative Economics, and the Journal of Economic Methods. He previously served as a co-editor of the Review of Economic Studies.

Cathy Cohen has been named the David and Mary Winton Green Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science and the College.

Throughout her career, Cohen’s research has challenged her discipline to reimagine the boundaries of the political sphere and to reevaluate conventional assumptions about the nature of political activity. Her award-winning book, The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics (1999, University of Chicago Press), is highly cited and remains influential in the field 20 years after its publication. Her more recent work, including Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (2010, Oxford University Press), and numerous scholarly articles, chapters and research reports, has continued a trajectory of highly cited and impactful research. Over the past several years, Cohen has launched a transformative and ambitious new project, the GenForward survey, a nationally representative and intensive survey of young adults that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world.

Her contributions as a scholar and educator have been acknowledged by a number of awards, including the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2012), the Kessler Award from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (2014), and the inaugural Diversity Leadership Faculty Award given by the University of Chicago (2015). She was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018. 

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

René Caldentey has been named the Eli B. and Harriet B. Williams Professor. 

His primary research interests include stochastic modeling with applications to revenue and retail management, queueing theory and finance. Caldentey serves on the editorial board of Management Science, M&SOM, Operations Research, Production and Operations Management, and Naval Research Logistics.

Prior to joining Chicago Booth, Caldentey was a professor in the Department of Information, Operations and Management Science at New York University Stern School of Business. Before joining NYU Stern, he worked for the Chilean Central Bank and taught at the University of Chile and the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Günter J. Hitsch has been named the inaugural Kilts Family Professor. 

Hitsch studies quantitative marketing and industrial organization. His recent research focuses on the application and development of ideas from the machine learning and causal inference literatures in marketing and industrial organization, including customer-targeting and optimal pricing.

He is the recipient of two Kilts Center for Marketing fellowships, a True North Communications Inc. scholarship, and a fellowship from the Ministry of Science in Austria. Hitsch is a member of the American Economic Association, American Marketing Association, the Econometric Society and INFORMS. 

Richard Hornbeck was named the V. Duane Rath Professor. 

Hornbeck, AB’04, is an economic historian and applied-micro economist, whose research focuses on the historical development of the American economy. Hornbeck views history as informing why some places and some people have become wealthier, while others have remained poorer, which can provide perspective on what factors might drive widespread improvements in living standards. His research has been published widely, including articles in the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Journal of Political Economy.

He received an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2014 and was selected for the 2009 Review of Economic Studies Tour.  

Erik Hurst has been named the inaugural Frank P. and Marianne R. Diassi Distinguished Service Professor. 

Hurst is deputy director of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics and the John E. Jeuck Faculty Fellow. He is a macroeconomist whose work focuses on housing markets, labor markets and household financial behavior. In 2006, Hurst was awarded the TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security. In 2013, he was awarded the Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship, awarded annually to a scholar under the age of 40 whose research has made a significant contribution to the literature in entrepreneurship.

Hurst is a member of the Economic Fluctuations Group, Aging Group, and Public Economics Group at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is currently serving as editor of Journal of Political Economy and serves as a consultant to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. 

Chad Syverson has been named the inaugural George C. Tiao Distinguished Service Professor. 

Syverson’s research spans several topics, with a particular focus on the interactions of firm structure, market structure and productivity. His research has earned multiple National Science Foundation awards, and he has served on National Academies committees exploring the future of manufacturing in the United States and redesigning the Census Bureau’s economic measurement programs. He has coauthored an intermediate-level text, Microeconomics, with fellow UChicago faculty members Austan Goolsbee and Steven Levitt.

Syverson serves as an editor of Journal of Political Economy and is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Prior to coming to Booth, Syverson was a mechanical engineer co-op for Loral Defense Systems and Unisys Corporation. 

Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering

Matthew Tirrell has been named the Robert A. Millikan Distinguished Service Professor in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

Since 2011, Tirrell has served as the dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the first school in the nation dedicated to this emerging, fast-growing field. The first new school at the University in three decades, Pritzker Molecular Engineering has grown under Tirrell’s leadership to 40 faculty and more than 400 people in all, including undergraduates, Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers and research staff.

Tirrell’s research focuses on the manipulation and measurement of polymer surface properties. His transformative work has provided new insight into phenomena such as adhesion, friction and biocompatibility, and contributed to the development of new materials based on self-assembly of synthetic and bio-inspired materials.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Indian National Academy of Engineering. He is also a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society.