U OF M Names Distinguished McKnight Professors
What: Distinguished McKnight University Professorships
When: Awardees honored at regents meeting, 10 a.m. Friday, May 12
Where: McNamara Alumni Center, University of Minnesota Gateway
Contacts: Myrna Smith, Graduate School, (612) 625-1093
Deane Morrison, University News Service, (612) 624-2346
(05/12/2000) —The University of Minnesota Graduate School has chosen six recipients of the year 2000 Distinguished McKnight University Professorship. The professorship aims to recognize and reward the most outstanding mid-career faculty. Recipients are honored with the title Distinguished McKnight University Professor, which they will hold for as long as they remain at the University of Minnesota. Associated with the professorship is a $100,000 grant to be expended over five years.
The winners were chosen on the merit of their scholarly achievements and the potential for greater attainment in the field; the extent to which their achievements have brought distinction to the University of Minnesota; the quality of their teaching and advising; and their contributions to the wider community. Profiles of the recipients follow.
David Bernlohr, biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics. Bernlohr is recognized internationally for his research on metabolic regulation, fatty acid binding proteins and transporters, and the control of gene expression by lipids. While many scientists think humans evolved under nutrient-poor conditions, obesity is now epidemic in developed societies due in part to the high fat content in our diets and our metabolic response to elevated fatty acids. Bernlohr was the first to provide unequivocal evidence for the role of fatty acid binding proteins in cellular lipid uptake. He was the founding director of the Minnesota High School Summer Science Research Program, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and he is a former University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor.
William Brustein, sociology. Brustein, a political historical analyst, focuses on the social origins of interwar fascism and anti-Semitism. This work culminated in his award-winning book "The Logic of Evil: The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925-1933" and gained him worldwide attention from social scientists and journalists. His research on the Nazi Party was also discussed in the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New York Times Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education and dozens of scholarly journals. His new research on the roots of European anti-Semitism will be published by Cambridge University Press. He recently received a major NSF grant to conduct a comparative and empirical examination of societal variation in popular anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust.
Keshab K. Parhi, electrical and computer engineering. Parhi has made pioneering contributions to the field of Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) design applied to communications and signal processing. VLSI design is essentially the art of combining tens of millions of transistors to perform specific functions. Parhi has developed systematic techniques to increase speed and reduce power consumption in digital systems. He has developed low-power building blocks for various coding, cryptography and computer arithmetic systems. His many scholarly publications are heavily cited. His recent textbook, "VLSI Digital Signal Processing Systems," is used worldwide. Parhi, who received the NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a former University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor.
Steven Ruggles, history. Ruggles is among the best-known social historical demographers in the world. He has developed the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, a high-precision, individual-level database describing the characteristics of the U.S. population between 1850 and 1900--the world's largest public-access individual-level database on a human population. He is now extending this paradigm worldwide. In addition to his work on the history of the 19th- and 20th-century family, he has made important contributions to preindustrial historical demography. Ruggles has an extensive publication record, and his book "Prolonged Connections: The Rise of the Extended Family in 19th Century: England and America" received two major awards. He is a former University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor.
Vladimir Sverak, mathematics. Sverak has achieved world-class distinction in both pure and applied mathematics. He has made fundamental contributions to the areas of partial differential equations, calculus of variations and geometric analysis. He is known for solving a 50-year-old problem on quasiconvexity in the calculus of variations. He has made at least two other breakthroughs, publishing papers on some of the most difficult and challenging mathematical problems of the last 50 years. His applied work in fluid dynamics and materials science is equally well recognized. He has won many honors, including a prize for outstanding young European mathematicians, the Keith Medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a Max Planck Research Award. He addressed the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1994, and a co-author presented their joint work at the next congress in 1998, a rare recognition for a mathematician.
William Tolman, chemistry. Tolman is an expert on the bioinorganic chemistry of copper-containing metalloenzymes, a class of compounds vital to many biological processes. In a1996 paper in Science, he reported the first example of a synthetic copper-oxygen complex in which a chemical bond between two oxygen atoms could be cleaved and re-formed, thus helping scientists understand how certain organisms utilize oxygen. This paper is regarded by many chemists as one of the most important pieces of inorganic chemistry in the last decade. His goal is to gain insight into the roles metal ions play in biology. He has received a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, a Searle Scholar Award, and an NSF National Young Investigator Award. He is a former University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professor.