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IU names six distinguished professors

Feb. 25, 2015

Six IU researchers and scholars have been promoted to distinguished professor, the highest academic rank the university can bestow upon its faculty. The appointments were approved Feb. 20 by the IU Board of Trustees.

The six are biomedical researcher Janet S. Carpenter of the School of Nursing and psychiatric geneticist John I. Nurnberger Jr. of the School of Medicine, both at IUPUI; and Central Eurasian studies scholar Jamsheed K. Choksy, biochemist Craig S. Pikaard, anthropologist Richard R. Wilk and mathematician Kevin Zumbrun of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington.

snowy limestone IU

The rank of distinguished professor was created by the Board of Trustees in 1967 and is conferred by the university president with approval by the board.

The rank of distinguished professor was created by the Board of Trustees in 1967. The title is conferred by the university president with approval by the board.

“These six distinguished professors have demonstrated sustained records of outstanding contributions across their widely varied disciplines through their research, teaching and service,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “All have had a transformative and strongly positive impact on their fields and on the university, exemplifying the highest standards of academic accomplishment, leadership and integrity. It is highly appropriate that they are being recognized with the university’s most prestigious faculty appointment.”

The distinguished professorship recognizes faculty who have transformed their fields of study and received international recognition for their work. Faculty, alumni, students and colleagues nominate candidates, citing outstanding research, scholarship and artistic or literary distinction. Nominations are reviewed by the University Distinguished Ranks Committee, which recommends appointments.

The new distinguished professors will be recognized formally at the university’s annual Celebration of Distinguished Teaching on April 10 in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union in Bloomington. Brief biographies of IU's new distinguished professors follow, with links to longer profiles on the University Honors and Awards website.

Janet S. Carpenter

Carpenter, the Sally Reahard Chair of Nursing, also serves as associate dean for research at the IU School of Nursing. She is considered a pioneer in two areas of women’s health research: symptom management by breast cancer patients and research methodologies for measurement of hot flashes.

Her daily interference scale has been translated into 12 languages and is recommended by the National Cancer Institute for use in treatment trials. She has been called "arguably the leading expert" in developing strategies for menopausal symptom assessment and management.

Jamsheed K. Choksy

Choksy, a professor in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, is an authority of Iran, the Indian subcontinent, Zoroastrianism and Islam. His success in studying the Near East and South Asia stems from his unparalleled knowledge of primary language skills over more than 20 dialects.

His research examines the development and interrelationship of communities, beliefs, politics, economics and security. The author of the groundbreaking book “Evil, Good and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History,” he is a sought-after media commentator on topics and issues facing the region.

John I. Nurnberger Jr.

Nurnberger, the Joyce and Iver Small Professor of Psychiatry, is a world authority on the genetics of bipolar disorder and alcoholism. His work has moved psychiatric genetics to a central position in understanding the neurobiological basis of brain disorders.

The author of nearly 450 publications, he started Psychiatric Genetics, the first specialty journal in the area, and was co-founder of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. His research has been funded continuously for 25 years by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Craig S. Pikaard

Pikaard is the Carlos O. Miller Chair of Plant Growth and Development. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he was the first researcher to provide a mechanistic explanation for the longstanding genetic puzzle known as nucleolar dominance, in which hybrid plants or animals express only one of their two sets of parental ribosomal RNA genes.

More recently, his research group identified and characterized two previously unknown forms of RNA polymerase that are required for gene silencing, work that vaulted him to the top rank of scientists working in the hotly competitive field of epigenetics. He has received more than $10 million in external funding since coming to IU in 2009 and currently holds two grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Richard R. Wilk

Wilk, Provost Professor of Anthropology, is considered among the leading anthropologists of food studies in the world. His research rests on investigation of individual and household level experiences, with attention to how people’s daily lives are entwined with broader processes.

His publications, including the book “Economies and Cultures” and the edited volumes “Households” and “The Household Economy,” demonstrate that individual consumption behaviors are tied to multi-faceted and often obscure aspects of history, cultural values, perceptions and circumstances.

Kevin Zumbrun

Zumbrun, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, has been described as the top U.S. mathematician in his age group working in nonlinear partial differential equations and one of the very few world leaders in the field of conservation laws and the study of shock waves.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2014, and he received the prestigious appointment Chaire d’Excellence de Paris in 2014. He has over 150 publications to his credit and his research has received continuous, high-level support from the National Science Foundation since 1991.

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