Established in 2002, this award recognizes outstanding academic and creative achievements across a broad spectrum of scholarly and artistic fields. The award recipients are faculty members who consistently go above and beyond their teaching and professional duties to make extraordinary contributions to their respective fields.
Department of Chemistry
Recipient of a prestigious Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS), Sherry Chemler, PhD, is an internationally renowned organic chemist focused on developing new reactions for organic synthesis using transition metal catalysis. She is particularly recognized for her pioneering work employing sustainable, earth-abundant copper compounds to create organic reactions critical for the pharmaceutical industry. Her research has been continuously supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2006, and her more than 80 peer-reviewed publications have garnered in excess of 7,500 citations. Chemler is an associate editor for Science Advances and has served on the ACS’s Organic Letters advisory board. She served as a member of the NIH’s Synthetic and Biological Chemistry study section from 2013-2017.
Department of Sociology
Professor of sociology Erin Hatton, PhD, is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of work and labor studies. She has advanced new epistemological, theoretical and empirical bases for understanding the status of workers whose labor falls outside conventional scholarly and legally defined notions of employment. A prolific scholar, Hatton has published three books, 12 peer-reviewed articles, and five book chapters. Her most recent book, “Coerced: Work Under Threat of Punishment” (University of California Press, 2020), received the American Sociological Association’s Max Weber Award for Distinguished Scholarship. In addition, it was selected for the Newberry Library’s Labor History Big Book Event and was named Outstanding Academic Title by Choice by the American Library Association.
Department of Psychology
A fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Association for the Advancement of Behavior and Cognitive Therapy, Jennifer Read, PhD, is professor and chair of the Department of Psychology. Her pioneering research focuses on the individual and environmental factors that influence problematic alcohol and other drug use. This includes factors such as trauma and post-traumatic stress, gender, emotions, cognitions, and social influences. Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense and numerous private foundations. She has chaired an NIH review panel, is on the board of directors for the Research Society on Alcohol, and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Wenyao Xu, PhD, has earned international recognition for his scholarship on mobile computing and the Internet of Things, including novel and significant research contributions to the understanding and optimization of sensor and computing systems. An exceptional scholar, he studies wireless and mobile sensing, “smart health” and emerging biometrics, and identification technologies. He and his team explore sensing capabilities in wireless and mobile technologies—research that has important applications in health care, advanced manufacturing, surveillance, and public safety. In support of his work, Xu has secured over 28 grants totaling more than $14 million. He has published two book chapters and over 240 peer-reviewed papers on topics ranging from sensor systems, smart health to cybersecurity.
Department of Physics
Moti Lal Rustgi Professor in the Department of Physics, Hao Zeng, PhD, is an international leader in materials science and physics, with pioneering work in magnetic nanoparticles, data storage and permanent magnets. An experimentalist who combines physics and chemistry to produce materials on the nanometer scale for various applications, Zeng has led research in novel magnetic nanostructures, 2D materials and chalcogenide semiconductors. He has published 150 articles, which have garnered more than 21,000 citations, according to Google Scholar. He also holds two patents. Zeng’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and Department of Energy. In 2006, he received a prestigious NSF CAREER Award.
Department of Ophthalmology
A Gold Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Sarah Xin Zhang, MD, professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, is an international leader in ophthalmic research, conducting innovative and impactful translational studies on the retina and retinal disease in diabetes. She is internationally renowned for exploring the contribution of the unfolded protein response in the disease pathology of diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and neurodegeneration in glaucoma. Her work has been continuously funded since 2010 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Zhang is associate editor for Frontiers in Genetics/Genetics of Aging, and she has served as a standing member on study sections for the NIH National Eye Institute and the American Diabetes Association Grant Review Panel.