Recipient Profiles - FFE

2016-17 Fund for Faculty Excellence Award Recipients

Ilya Bindeman, Professor of Geological Sciences

Ilya Bindeman is a geophysicist who studies the magma and eruptive cycles of volcanoes, for which he conducts fieldwork in the Yellowstone area of Wyoming and Idaho, Iceland, and in Kamchatka and Karelia in his native Russia. By measuring isotopes and trace elements in volcanic rocks, Bindeman has been able to document the deep history of large volcanic eruptions, and of the earth’s climate. He is the lead author or co-author of 57 papers over the past six years in prominent journals in geology, volcanology and geochemistry, and has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Career award, as well as research grants from the NSF, the American Chemical Society, and the National Geographic Society.

Shannon Boettcher, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Shannon Boettcher’s research focuses on electrochemistry, electrocatalysis, and materials synthesis as it relates to solar energy conversion and storage. Together with his research group he has redirected the field of electrocatalysis by showing how traditional beliefs about the relative catalytic activity of metals are incorrect. His widely cited work in such publications as the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Natural Materials, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, has brought him a Sloan Fellowship, a Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award, a Cottrell Scholars Award, and a DuPont Young Professor Award. Boettcher fosters undergraduate research by assigning first-year honors chemistry students to the lab where they work side-by-side with graduate students on real life research problems. In addition to leading a productive research group, Boettcher devotes energy to outreach, joining other faculty to develop Mad Duck Science Days, which bring Springfield Middle School students to the UO campus science activities.

Mark Carey, Associate Professor of History        

Mark Carey specializes in environmental history and the history of science. His research addresses climate change, glacier-society interactions, natural disasters, mountaineering, water, and health and medicine. He received the Elinor Melville Prize for the Best Book in Latin American Environmental History for his book In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society, and the Leopold-Hidy Prize for best journal article for "The History of Ice: How Glaciers Became an Endangered Species” published in the journal of Environmental History. Professor Carey, a recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, provides valuable research opportunities to his undergraduate students who have the opportunity to work with him in fieldwork abroad, as well as assist with library and web research. He developed a course taught in 2012 in the Clark Honors College on “Climate and Culture in the Americas” that helped undergraduate students developing conference papers for a public national student conference on "Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change" where his students presented. Mark Carey currently serves as the associate dean of the Robert D. Clark Honors College.

Lisa Gilman, Professor of English and Folklore

A prominent interdisciplinary scholar of folklore with an emphasis on performance practices, Lisa Gilman’s research explores issues of power related to gender, class, cultural identity and politics. Her work on the musical practices of U.S. veterans returning from war resulted in the monograph My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as an ethnographic film. Gilman has also published widely on folklore practices in Malawi including the monograph, The Dance of Politics: Performance, Gender, and Democratization in Malawi, and she recently co-edited UNESCO on the Ground: Local Perspectives on Intangible Cultural Heritage. A deeply engaged and influential teacher, Gilman served as the director of the Folklore Program for six years and has chaired and advised an impressive list of folklore graduate students.

Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture

Bart Johnson is internationally recognized for his work to link ecology with landscape design and planning by integrating people and their use of the land with native ecosystems and evolutionary processes. His collaborative, interdisciplinary research to craft adaptive solutions to socio-ecological landscape issues in response to climate change has led to numerous articles in top-tier journals, and support through competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Interior Joint Fire Sciences Program, and the USDA Forest Service. He was the lead developer of the UO Landscape Architecture Ph.D. degree program, which began in 2006, and is one of only three such programs in the US. Johnson is a dedicated educator, serving on numerous Ph.D. and master’s committees in landscape architecture and environmental studies. He has taught and lectured at China’s prestigious Tsinghua and Beijing universities, and recently assisted with several important design initiatives to foster China’s urban sustainability. His work was recognized by receiving the 2014 Excellence in Research Award, senior level, from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.

Huaxin Lin, Professor of Mathemetics

Huaxin Lin is recognized worldwide for his research work on C*-algebras, an area of mathematics that links analysis with topology and algebra. Lin has written over 130 research publications, including papers and monographs in the best journals in the field of mathematics, such as the Annals of Mathematics and the Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society. Lin’s highly visible and important work has earned continual grant support from the National Science Foundation, and he is an inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Lin is widely regarded by students and faculty as a dedicated teacher, and he is distinguished for his outstanding service to both university and professional communities.

David Luebke, Professor of History

David Luebke is an historian of early modern Germany. His publications have examined how in the midst of the Protestant Reformation and the religious wars that followed when Germans in many cities and villages tolerated diverse sects or confessions, even within the same families and the same churches. His monograph, Hometown Religion: Regimes of Coexistence in Early Modern Westphalia was published in 2016 by the University of Virginia Press. Luebke has held several research fellowships and visiting professor positions in Germany, and is an editor of two book series on German and Central European history. He currently serves as department head in the Department of History, and is chair of organizing, membership, and communications for United Academics at the University of Oregon.

Kent McIntosh, Associate Professor of Special Education

Kent McIntosh’s research focuses on education for children with disabilities. He studies the sustainability of school-based interventions, interactions between academic and behavior support, and the enhancing of racial/ethnic equity in school discipline. McIntosh has an extensive record of publications and has been the recipient of $30 million in grants from highly competitive federal grants including the U.S. Department of Education. He is deeply committed to social justice, multiculturalism, and is devoted to mentoring young scholars who are invested in contributing to these efforts. In addition, he served from 2013 to 2015 as associate director of Educational and Community Supports, a high performing research institute in the College of Education. In 2016, he assumed the directorship of this research institute.

Victor Ostrik, Professor of Mathematics

Victor Ostrik’s research focuses on fusion categories, a quickly developing part of the larger field of representation theory. Co-author of the monograph Tensor Categories, published by the American Mathematical Society (2015), Ostrik has written and collaborated on over 45 papers, many in top-ranking journals. An internationally renowned researcher, he was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematics and the scientific organizer of recent workshops at the Banff Research Station and the Simons Center. Ostrik is an inspiring teacher of both graduate students and students of introductory calculus, and has mentored a local high school student to a fourth place finish in the Intel Science Talent Search and a $50,000 Davidson Fellowship Laureate. His recent service to the university includes terms on both the Faculty Personal Committee and the Promotion, Tenure, Retention Appeal Committee.

Benjamin Saunders, Professor of English

Benjamin Saunders is an unorthodox scholar. His research slips the confines of traditional scholarly fields and publication formats, reaching out to both academic and popular audiences. He specializes in literature of the English Renaissance and the history of British and American comics and cartoons, having achieved national and international prominence in these fields. Saunders’ first book, Desiring Donne, was shortlisted by Choice magazine as one of the outstanding academic titles of 2006, and also selected as a finalist for the Oregon Book Award that same year. His second book, Do The Gods Wear Capes?, focused on modern American superhero comics, arguing that the superhero fantasy can tell us a great deal about our conceptions of the human, the post-human, and the divine. Saunders is the founder and currently directs the University of Oregon’s undergraduate minor in comics and cartoon studies, which is the first undergraduate minor of its kind in the country. This minor draws undergraduate students and faculty from AAA, SOJC, CINE, the UO Libraries, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, where he has curated two major exhibitions in connection to his teaching.

Idit Shner, Associate Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies

Recognized as a rising star in saxophone performance, Idit Shner is noted for her unique accomplishments in both classical and jazz idioms. With more than 200 performances nationally and internationally since joining the UO in 2009, she has a distinguished record, performing as an invited soloist and in chamber music and jazz ensembles with highly respected collaborators. Shner’s published book Music for Saxophone and Harp and three compact disc recordings released by Origin Classics contribute to her recognition in the field. An equally outstanding teacher, receiving the UO’s Thomas F. Herman Award for Specialized Pedagogy in 2015, Shner’s students have become stellar musicians, and she is invited as a master teacher and guest speaker by distinguished institutions nationally and internationally.

Richard Taylor, Professor of Physics

Richard Taylor is director of the Material Sciences Institute at the UO. A trained painter and photographer as well as physicist, Taylor takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of patterns in nature, especially fractals. Taylor’s highly productive research career has led to almost three hundred publications to date, including articles in high-profile journals such as Nature and Science. The results of his work range from pattern analysis used in art identification to speculative work on electronic retinal implants. Of his numerous awards, the most recent include the Keck Medical Research Award (2016), the InnoCentive Prize (2014), and the Pufendorf Fellowship (2014). A dedicated educator who routinely teaches Physics 201 to a class of 500, he has also received the Thomas F. Herman Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Williams Fellowship for Teaching. His integration of physics and art has appeared in television documentaries and has received attention in the popular press (e.g., New Yorker, Atlantic NYT, and WSJ).

Courtney Thorsson, Associate Professor of English

Courtney Thorsson is credited with putting African American studies on the map at the UO.  Both her prominent scholarly production and her efforts to bring important African American writers and literary critics to campus have made a vital impact. Thorsson’s first book, Women’s Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women’s Novels made critical contributions to the field. Her second book, Revolutionary Recipes: Foodways in African American Literature, explores compelling issues at the intersection of food, race, gender and class. An exceptional teacher and colleague, as well as scholar, Thorsson has made unique contributions to the English department, and to the interdisciplinary programs – Ethnic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies and the Center for Study of Women in Society.

Cynthia Vakareliyska, Professor of Linguistics

Cynthia Vakareliyska is professor of linguistics and a specialist in Slavic languages and texts of the medieval period. She reads and analyzes more than twenty different languages of central and eastern Europe. For fifteen years she worked on The Curzon Gospel a two-volume, 1200-page edition and annotation of a medieval Bulgarian manuscript she discovered in the British Library. Her many articles go beyond medieval studies to include the treatment of ethnic and linguistic minorities in Russia before and during WWI, of aphasia disorders as evidence for Slavic structural linguistics, and of Orthodox Saints as Facebook friends. Vakareliyska has served as president of the Bulgarian Studies Association, and at the UO on the Faculty Personnel Committee, among many other service contributions.

Paul Wallace, Professor of Geological Sciences

Paul Wallace is an internationally renowned geochemist who studies a wide variety of topics including the conditions of magma formation in the mantle beneath active volcanoes. He has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed research articles and books, and his work is supported by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation. Wallace has performed outstanding service to the scientific community, which is recognized by his elected fellowship to the Mineralogical Society of America, and includes his service in the American Geophysical Union, and his associate editorship for the Bulletin of Volcanology. He is considered by students and faculty to be a superlative teacher, and his service the university and the profession are exemplary.