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Home > People > Awards and appointments, April 2008

Awards and appointments, April 2008

By Pauline Oo

Sarah Hobbie
Associate professor Sarah Hobbie has received a fellowship to further her work on environmental issues.

April 30

Kathleen Brooks has accepted the new position of associate dean for primary care at the Medical School. She will provide leadership and direction for programs involving medical student educational experiences in primary care and the Rural Physician Associate Program.

Internationally respected flavor expert Gary Reineccius has been named head of the U's Department of Food Science and Nutrition. Reineccius has been a faculty member in the department since 1970 and has worked in research for Nestle and many food flavor companies. He is a well-sought after speaker to both professionals and the non-scientific audiences; his favorite topics are chocolate and the chemistry of gourmet cooking.

Laura Asrani, a registered and licensed dietitian, has recently joined the University Dining Services staff. In the new role, Asrani will provide health and wellness support to students and faculty and provide UDS with menu and nutritional advice. Asrani received her Bachelor of Science in nutrition with a minor in psychology from the Twin Cities campus. For nutritional questions, or to setup an in-person consultation, call 612-626-8977 or e-mail

Associate professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior Sarah Hobbie has been named a 2008 Leopold Leadership Fellow. She is among 19 selected to receive the competitive fellowship for academic scientists working on environmental issues.

Michael Miner, a physician in the Department of Family Medicine, was honored with the Professional Service Award from the Minnesota Association for the treatment of sexual abusers.

April 23

The new director of the Graduate School's Office of Admissions will be Dean Tsantir, effective June 9. Tsantir has served as assistant to the director for the past year and was appointed after a national search. The office receives more than 13,000 applications a year from nearly every country in the world and admits approximately 4,600 students to 132 academic programs, working closely with individual college and departmental faculty and staff on the Duluth, Rochester, and Twin Cities campus. Tsantir will succeed Andrea Scott, who is retiring June 6 after a 35-year career in the Graduate School. See the Graduate School announcement.

Hisham Bizri
Faculty member Hisham Bizri has won the Rome Prize, an annual award for artists and scholars to further develop both intellectually and artistically.--Photo by Richard Anderson

Hisham Bizri, an assistant professor in the department of cultural studies and comparative literature, is the recipient of the 112th annual American Academy in Rome Prize Competition. Bizri received the award in the visual arts category for his film The Last Day of Summer, which he developed from a screenplay he wrote. Fellowship winners travel to Rome and are provided a stipend, a study or studio, and room and board for a period of six months to two years. Bizri will live at the academy in Rome all next year. A practicing filmmaker from Lebanon, Bizri presented in 2006 a first-of-its-kind symposium at the U on film and culture in the Arab world. He is the cofounder of the Arab Institute of Film in Amman, Jordan. Bizri's films have been shown internationally including at the Louvre, Cairo Opera House, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Nursing professor Jean Wyman has been named president-elect of the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS); her term started at the end of last month. She will assume the two-year role as president beginning in March 2009, which coincides with the School of Nursing's centennial celebration and when it hosts the 2009 MNRS Research Conference.

Gwen Halaas, director of the Center for Interprofessional Education has been selected to attend the Harvard Macy Institute's Leading Innovation in Health Care and Education. Dr Halaas will be at Harvard this June. This prestigious opportunity will allow her to study intensively with leaders and other scholars to further develop a project that will benefit interprofessional education within the Academic Health Center at the University of Minnesota.

April 16

Three Twin Cities campus faculty members have received the prestigious Guggenheim fellowship for 2008, two from the College of Liberal Arts and one from the Institute of Technology. The U.S. and Canadian competition recognizes distinguished achievement and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The recipients are Doug Arnold, mathematics; Kathryn Sikkink, political science; and Robin Stryker, sociology. This year's fellowship winners include 190 artists, scholars, and scientists with awards totaling $8.2 million. See the news release.

Two Department of English faculty members and former Edelstein-Keller Minnesota Writers of Distinction (sponsored through the Department of English's Creative Writing Program) have won 2008 Minnesota Book Awards. Charles Baxter won in the General Nonfiction category for The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot, and Regents' Professor Patricia Hampl won in the Memoir and Creative Nonfiction category for The Florist's Daughter. A total of 250 books were nominated for awards this year, and 32 books were selected as finalists. This is a repeat honor for Hampl, who has prior awards from 1988 and 2001.

Other U-related book award winners are Deborah Keenan, 2006-07 Edelstein-Keller Minnesota Writer of Distinction, in Poetry for Willow Room, Green Door, and Wang Ping, 2003 Edelstein-Keller Minnesota Writer of Distinction, in Novel and Short Story for The Last Communist Virgin.

Andrew Scheil
U professor Andrew Scheil, an expert in old English language and literature, has won an award from the Medieval Academy of America.

Andrew Scheil, associate professor of English, has won the Medieval Academy of America's 2008 John Nicholas Brown Prize for his book The Footsteps of Israel: Understanding Jews in Anglo-Saxon England. Scheil has also received a Solmsen Fellowship for academic year 2008-09 at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Professor Vladimir Cherkassky, electrical and computer engineering, is one of only 10 national winners of the A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award from Microsoft External Research. The award provides nearly $100,000 for his research related to new methodologies for medical diagnosis. Specific medical applications include more accurate predictions of the success of bone and marrow transplant treatment for various types of cancer and improved diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.

Georgios Giannakis, electrical and computer engineering professor, has been elected a Fellow of the European Signal Processing Association in recognition of his contributions to the field of signal processing. A select group of no more than five signal processing researchers per year are elevated to fellows, the association's most prestigious honor.

The American Educational Research Association gave Carole Bland, professor of family medicine and community health, a career achievement award.

April 9

Stephen Lehmkuhle was formally installed as the first chancellor of the Rochester campus on April 4. Read "U inaugurates Rochester chancellor.

In May, Phillip Peterson, U physician and director of the Medical School's International Medical Education and Research Program, will receive an honorary doctorate from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, one of the largest medical universities in Europe. To learn more about the U's partnership with the institute, read "Cultivating a world perspective on medicine".

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson is retiring from UMPD at the end of April.

Deputy chief Steve Johnson, University Police (UMPD), will retire on April 30. Johnson, who has played a major role in connecting the UMPD to the campus, law enforcement, and surrounding communities, started as a student employee in 1970. He accepted a fulltime position at the U in 1972 and transferred to the police department on April 2, 1979. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1992. His duties included watch commander and organizing police management of special events on campus. He assumed the duties of acting chief in 1999, until a new chief was hired in fall 1999. Johnson has been second in command since then.

Julie Sandman is the new online student support services assistant on the Crookston campus. Among her responsibilities, Sandman will work with student support services for online and distance learning students, advising potential and current students about application and registration, finances, and technology. She brings eight years of teaching experience to the position. Most recently, she was a program specialist for the University Extension in Duluth.

April 2

Ralph Rapson passed away March 29 of heart failure. He was 93. He served as head of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture from 1954 to 1984. (It became the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in 1989). Rapson is most widely known as the architect of the original Guthrie Theater, which opened in 1963. Since retiring from the University, Rapson had maintained his private architectural practice, founded in the same year that he took the post at the U. According to his son, Rip, Rapson "was active up to the very end, having been on his exercise bike, as well as drawing just last evening." Memorials should be directed to the Ralph Rapson Fellowship at the Minnesota Architectural Foundation, 275 Market Street, Suite 54, Minneapolis, MN 55405. Services are planned for April 12th in Minneapolis. Read the news release or a profile of him in Minnesota magazine.

Ann Edgerton has been appointed the new director of the University of Minnesota Child Care Center. (Mary Berg served as the center's interim director for the past two years; Sheri Goldsmith was interim associate director.) Edgerton, who will start on May 12, comes to the U from Monterey Peninsula College in California, where she has been teaching infant/toddler development and caregiving, as well as administration of child care centers. She has experience with Head Start programs and has been an advocate for the underserved. Edgerton has also lived in Europe, receiving a teaching diploma in the Montessori method and participating in study and research trips for infant and toddler caregivers in Italy.

Neuroscience professor Robert Miller will receive the 2008 Proctor Medal from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology this month. The award, the association's highest honor, is presented annually for outstanding research in basic or clinical sciences as applied to ophthalmology. Miller was chosen for his seminal discoveries on the basic mechanisms through which nerve cells of the retina communicate. At the U, Miller holds the 3M Bert Cross Chair in Visual Neuroscience and was head of physiology at the Medical School from 1988 to 1998. To learn about his research, see Miller's Web site.

School of Dentistry professor Nelson Rhodus has received the highest award from the American Academy of Oral Medicine: the Samuel Charles Miller Medal. He is the first University faculty member as well as the first Minnesotan to receive this award.

Anne Phibbs
Anne Phibbs, director of the U's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Programs Office.

On April 26, Anne Phibbs, system-wide director of the U's GLBT Programs Office, will receive the 2008 Power of One award from PFund, the leading Minnesota foundation dedicated exclusively to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. Under her leadership, the U created a Transgender Commission last year to improve the experiences of transgender students, staff, faculty, and alumni through education and institutional change. In 2006, she helped launch the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance, an organization of statewide GLBT campus groups. Phibbs plans to share her $2,000 award equally between the Minnesota GLBT Campus Alliance and the University of Minnesota Transgender Commission.