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Faculty to Watch

The 2022 class of endowed faculty members and University Distinguished Professors are growing the seeds of knowledge by moving MSU and big ideas forward.

faculty applauding

Faculty to Watch

The 2022 class of endowed faculty members and University Distinguished Professors are growing the seeds of knowledge by moving MSU and big ideas forward.

On September 14, 2022, the MSU community gathered at the Wharton Center for the investiture of the 2022 class of endowed chairs, endowed professors, and MSU Foundation professors. The ceremony was a celebration of their accomplishments, as well as a celebration of the philanthropic support that makes these esteemed positions possible. 

Alumnus and donor Dan Van Haften (’70) spoke about what inspired him to create the Van Haften Endowed Professorship in Deductive Literacy—the first endowed position in the Department of Mathematics, which is now held by Dr. François Greer.

Dr. Kristen Renn, newly named Mildred B. Erickson Chair in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, spoke on behalf of her fellow honorees about the duties they hold to the university, to their fields, to their students, and to themselves as MSU’s best and brightest faculty. 

President Samuel L. Stanley, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa K. Woodruff, and Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Norman J. Beauchamp presided over the medaling ceremony. 

 

OPENING DOORS TO NEW DISCOVERIES

 

QUANTUM LEAPERJonas Nils Becker, Ph.D. 
JERRY COWEN CHAIR OF EXPERIMENTAL PHYSICS 
Established through a gift from Randolph L. and Elaine Cowen in memory of Jerry Cowen 
An assistant professor of physics and is the primary investigator for the Solid-State Quantum Physics Optics Group within the Quantum Optical Devices laboratory. His research focuses on experimental quantum information science using optically active systems in solid-state hosts, such as defects in synthetic diamond and rare earth-doped crystals. 


SURGICAL PRECISIONIST: Loïc M. Déjardin, D.V.M. 
WADE O. BRINKER CHAIR OF VETERINARY SURGERY 
Established through gifts made in commemoration of the contributions of Dr. Wade O. Brinker to the field of veterinary surgery 
A professor of small animal clinical sciences, as well as the head of Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery. His research interests include biomechanics and implant design, and as an orthopedic surgeon, he also specializes in minimally invasive surgery, pediatric traumatology, joint replacement, and revision surgery. 


ENGINEERING HELMSMAN: Leo Kempel, Ph.D.
DENNIS P. NYQUIST ENDOWED PROFESSOR IN ELECTROMAGNETICS
Established through a gift from Dennis P. Nyquist
Dean of the College of Engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering. His primary research interests include conformal antennas, engineered materials for microwave applications, and computational electromagnetics.


POWER CARETAKER: Joydeep Mitra, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
College of Engineering
Joydeep Mitra is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and director of the Energy Reliability & Security (ERiSe) Laboratory. He has conducted research in power system modeling, analysis, stability, control, planning, and simulation, and he is known for his contributions to power system reliability analysis and reliability-based planning.


HOSPITALITY HARBINGER: Karthik Namasivayam, Ph.D.
JOHN AND BECKY DUFFEY PROFESSOR OF HOSPITALITY BUSINESS
Established through a gift from John and Rebecca Duffey
A professor in The School of Hospitality Business, and he has been working in the industry for over 40 years as a consultant, entrepreneur, faculty member, academic administrator, and in hospitality management careers across three continents. His research explores the intersection between service provider and consumer, and the impact of new technologies on consumer experience and consumer-centric organizational design.


PROTEIN INQUISITOR: Thomas V. O'Halloran, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
College of Human Medicine
Thomas O’Halloran is a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics whose research program focuses on how the discovery of soluble metal receptor proteins, the pathways they participate in, and the mechanisms by which they regulate cellular events and the physiology of the organism.


CARBON CATCHER: Jason Edward Rowntree, Ph.D.
C.S. MOTT ENDOWED PROFESSOR OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Established through a gift from the C.S. Mott Foundation
An associate professor in the Department of Animal Science. He coordinates the Lake City and UPREC AgBioResearch and Extension Centers, where his work focuses on addressing economic, environmental, and social complexity in agriculture, including a study into how grazing livestock can improve land and mitigate climate change by capturing carbon and providing other ecosystem services.


PARKINSON’S WARRIOR: Caryl E. Sortwell, Ph.D.
EDWIN A. BROPHY ENDOWED CHAIR IN CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS
Established through an anonymous gift
A professor of translational neuroscience whose research focuses on therapeutic strategies for Parkinson’s disease. Her method enables her to study not only the impact of alpha-synuclein pathology, but also the potential of novel disease-modifying treatment strategies. Her research program also focuses on improving the efficacy of existing anti-parkinsonian treatments (pharmacotherapies, deep brain stimulation) using precision medicine approaches.


SMART TOOL MAKER: Xiaobo Tan, Ph.D.
RICHARD M. HONG ENDOWED CHAIR IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
Established through a gift from Richard M. Hong in honor of MSU Professor Emeritus Kun Mu Chen
A professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering. Also an MSU Foundation Professor, Tan’s research focuses on electroactive polymer sensors and actuators, modeling and control of smart materials, and bio-inspired underwater robots.


ALZHEIMER’S COMBATANT: Irving E. Vega, Ph.D.
RED CEDAR PROFESSOR
Created by the Provost’s Office in partnership with MSU’s colleges to support recruitment and retention of faculty
College of Human Medicine
An associate professor of translational neuroscience. His research focuses on molecular and biochemical mechanisms that modulate the accumulation of pathological tau proteins in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. He is also working on ethnic disparities and the influence of ethnoracial factors on blood biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease.


 

ENVIRONMENTAL CHAMPION: Timothy H. Warren, Ph.D.
BARNETT ROSENBERG PROFESSOR
Established through a gift from the MSU Foundation in honor of Dr. Barnett Rosenberg
A professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry. His research group is focused on developing environmentally friendly new methods for organic synthesis, exploring the interconversion of nitrogen and ammonia as carbon-free fuel, and decoding ways that biology communicates using nitric oxide as a molecular messenger.


FUEL ADAPTOR: Guoming (George) Zhu, Ph.D.
G. GLENN AND MARLENE D. GARDNER ENDOWED CHAIR IN AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING
Established through a gift from G. Glenn and Marlene D. Gardner
A professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research in the automotive control lab uses model-based control techniques to accurately control engine fuel injection timing and mass, charge mixture temperature and composition, and control the valvetrain and other engine subsystems. Work in this area of advanced engine control is foundational for a future that may require engines to have the ability to automatically adapt to multiple fuels and combustion mode

PUTTING IDEAS TO WORK

 

CULTURE PROGNOSTICATOR: Kristin l. Arola, Ph.D.
KAREN L. GILLMOR PH.D. ENDOWED PROFESSOR IN PROFESSIONAL AND PUBLIC WRITING
Established through a gift from Karen L. Gillmor
An associate professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures whose research and teaching focuses on composing as culturing. She explores how the acts of writing, designing, and making—as well as the ways those skills are taught—culture people into particular ways of being and sets of values. Her work brings together composition theory; making culture; and digital, environmental, and cultural rhetoric.


TRUTHS GROUNDBREAKER: Ruth Nicole Brown, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
College of Arts & Letters
Ruth Nicole Brown is a professor and the inaugural chairperson of the Department of African American and African Studies. She is an internationally recognized leader in Black Girlhood Studies, and her research documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experiences, and explores gender and racialized power dynamics of collectivity, particularly as it relates to Black girlhood.


FRUITFUL SCIENTIST: Todd Charles Einhorn, Ph.D.
MARTIN AND JUDITH BUKOVAC ENDOWED PROFESSORSHIP IN TREE FRUIT PHYSIOLOGY
Established through a gift from Martin and Judith Bukovac
An associate professor in the Department of Horticulture whose research focuses on understanding plant growth development and environmental stress in order to develop innovative horticultural strategies to optimize tree fruit production—namely apple, pear, and tart cherry trees.


DATA DRIVER: Antonio F. Galvao, Ph.D.
FREDERICK S. ADDY DISTINGUISHED CHAIR IN ECONOMICS
Established through a gift from Frederick S. and Marilyn Marshall Addy
A professor of economics whose research is primarily focused on econometric theory and applied econometrics, as well as quantile regression and panel data.


MATHEMATICS LOGICIAN: François W. Greer, Ph.D.
VAN HAFTEN ENDOWED PROFESSOR IN DEDUCTIVE LITERACY
Established through a gift from Dan Van Haften
An assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics whose research is focused on enumerative algebraic geometry, with a specific focus on moduli spaces of CalabiYau varieties. Greer spent 2020-2021 at the Institute for Advanced Study conducting NSF-funded research into the relations between quasimodular forms and Gromov-Witten theory.


Arun Ross

DEVELOPMENTAL TRAILBLAZER: Deborah J. Johnson, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
College of Social Science
Deborah Johnson is a professor of human development and family studies and the inaugural director of MSU’s Diversity Research Network. Her research explores racially and culturally related development; parental racial socialization and coping; and cultural adjustment from early childhood through emerging adulthood in both domestic and international children and youth.


ORGANIZATIONAL ENERGIZER: Jerlando F. L. Jackson, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
Dean, College of Education
Jerlando F. L. Jackson is Dean of the College of Education. As a researcher, his work in the areas of hiring practices, career mobility, workforce diversity, and workplace discrimination has culminated in a focus on organizational disparities—a term he is credited with coining—and interventions designed to broaden participation for underrepresented groups in the scientific workforce. As a leader on these topics, he has produced more than 125 research publications, authored or co-edited six books, and has delivered research papers and keynote addresses around the globe.


SUPPLY STRATEGIST: Anand Nair, Ph.D.
ELI BROAD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS
Established through a gift from the Eli Broad Foundation
A professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management. His research examines how firms, teams, and individuals learn, adapt, and organize to manage processes, supplies, technology, and innovation, and the associated performance implications. His work has been applied in the manufacturing, healthcare, and retail sectors.


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SURVEYOR: Anjana Susarla, Ph.D.
OMURA-SAXENA PROFESSOR IN RESPONSIBLE A.I.
Established through a gift from Manoj Saxena in honor of Glen S. Omura
A professor in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. She is renowned for her expertise in the economics of information systems, social media analytics, and the economics of artificial intelligence. In these fields, she is working to advance ethics and technology, uncovering the harmful side of unregulated A.I., which can be biased, discriminatory, and spread misinformation like wildfire.


INTERNATIONAL RELATOR: Cameron G. Thies, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
Dean, James Madison College
Cameron Thies is Dean of the James Madison College. A scholar of international relations, his research interests include foreign policy analysis, interstate and civil conflict, international trade and international relations theory. He has published in a broad range of high-profile journals, and his books have been published by esteemed university presses.


INFORMATION BALANCER: Kjerstin S. Thorson, Ph.D.
BRANDT ENDOWED PROFESSOR
Established through a gift from Ellis N. Brandt
A professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and the School of Journalism, and the associate dean for Strategic Initiatives in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Her research explores how digital platforms are changing the ways we learn about our political world and the democratic consequences of information inequality, especially among youth and young adults.


ARTFUL STORYTELLER: Silvia Tita, Ph.D.
CAROL ANN BENNETT-VALLÈS PROFESSOR
Established through a gift from Carol Ann Bennett-Vallès and John-Paul Vallès
A professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design. An art historian and digital humanities researcher, her research focuses on early modern art in transnational contexts through diplomatic and missionary channels.


FILM TALEBEARER: Jeff C. Wray, MFA
TIMNICK CHAIR IN THE HUMANITIES
Established through a gift from Henry O. Timnick
A professor in the Department of English who has developed and teaches courses in film directing, screenwriting, and narrative film fiction, as well as in African American cinema and cinema of the African Diaspora. An accomplished filmmaker himself, his features and short films have been screened in the United States and abroad.

 


INSPIRING OTHERS

 

PHYSICS PROTAGONIST: Marcos D. 'Danny' Caballero, Ph.D.
LAPPAN-PHILLIPS PROFESSOR
Established through royalties from the “Connected Mathematics 2” textbook authored by Glenda Lappan and Elizabeth Phillips
An associate professor of physics education who studies how tools and science practices affect student learning in physics and the conditions and environments that support or inhibit this learning. His work employs cognitive and sociocultural theories of learning and aims to blend these perspectives to enhance physics instruction at all levels.


LEGAL LUMINARY: Linda S. Greene, J.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
College of Law
Linda Greene is a professor of law and Dean of the Michigan State University College of Law. Her teaching and academic scholarship focus on constitutional law, civil procedure, legislation, civil rights, and sports law, and, as an administrator, her work has been distinguished by a commitment to building and supporting diverse, creative learning communities.


PHILOSOPHICAL PACESETTER: Christopher Philip Long, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
Dean, College of Arts & Letters, Honors College
Christopher Long is Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Dean of the Honors College, and a professor of philosophy. As a leader, he is recognized for his commitment to the transformative power of liberal arts research and teaching by enriching graduate and undergraduate education, advancing equity and inclusion, recruiting and retaining world-class faculty, and creating new opportunities for collaboration. As a professor, he is an expert in both ancient Greek and contemporary continental philosophy.


SUCCESS EQUALIZER: Kristen A. Renn, Ph.D.
DR. MILDRED B. ERICKSON DISTINGUISHED CHAIR IN HIGHER, ADULT, AND LIFELONG EDUCATION
Established through a gift from Dr. Bruce Erickson in honor of Dr. Mildred B. Erickson
A professor in the Department of Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education, who serves as associate dean of undergraduate studies for student success research. Her research centers on college student learning, development, and success in higher education, with current projects focused on low-income, first-generation students and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students.


SPIRITUAL GUARDIAN: Morgan Shipley, Ph.D.
FOGLIO ENDOWED CHAIR IN SPIRITUALITY
Established in honor of the late Father Jake Foglio
An associate professor of religious studies whose current research and teaching has three main focuses: understanding mystical and esoteric new religions that highlight spirituality as opposed to institutional religiosity, positioning individuals and groups who increasingly identify as spiritual but not religious, and situating the nature and manifestations of secular spirituality.


SCIENCE NEWSMAKER: Bruno Takahashi, Ph.D.
BRANDT ENDOWED PROFESSOR
Established through a gift from Ellis N. Brandt
An associate professor in the School of Journalism and in AgBioResearch. He is also the research director in the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. His research interests include news coverage of environmental affairs, environmental journalism practices, and science communication. He has a particular interest in the communication of environmental issues in Latin America and among Hispanic communities in the United States.


ACCOUNTING ADVANCER: Isabel Wang, Ph.D.
DELOITTE/MICHAEL LICATA PROFESSOR IN ACCOUNTING
Established through gifts from Deloitte in honor of Michael Licata
A professor in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. Her research in the field has earned her recognition multiple times over from the American Accounting Association, as well as one of MSU’s highest distinctions for faculty: the John D. and Dortha J. Withrow Teacher-Scholar Award.


BUSINESS FORERUNNER: Judith M. Whipple, Ph.D.
DONALD J. BOWERSOX AND ROBERT W. THULL PROFESSOR IN LOGISTICS AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
Established through gifts from Robert W. Thull and others in honor of the late Donald J. Bowersox
Interim dean of the Eli Broad College of Business and a professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management, where she is also faculty director of the Master of Science program. Her research interests include supply chain integration and collaboration, and she has extensive teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level, teaching in the Full-time MBA, Executive MBA, MS-SCM and doctoral programs. For her accomplishments, she is a recipient of the MSU Teacher Scholar Award and numerous awards and honors in her field, including being named a DC Velocity Rainmaker, a high honor by the leading multi-media news agency DC Velocity, which serves the logistics and supply chain industry.


LEARNEDNESS LEADER: Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D.
MSU FOUNDATION PROFESSOR
College of Human Medicine
Teresa Woodruff is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and an internationally recognized biologist specializing in reproductive science. She is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology and the Department of Biomedical Engineering and, as a researcher, coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging of two fields: oncology and fertility preservation. As a university leader, she oversees the quality of instruction, scholarship, and leadership development through collaborative work with deans, faculty, and student leaders.


STEM ADVOCATE: Aman Yadav, Ph.D.
LAPPAN-PHILLIPS PROFESSOR
Established through royalties from the “Connected Mathematics 2” textbook authored by Glenda Lappan and Elizabeth Phillips
A professor of educational psychology and educational technology and also serves as associate director of computer science education in MSU’s CREATE for STEM institute. His research focuses on preparing teachers to embed computational thinking practices and computing in the classroom. He is also focused on developing an understanding of problem-based learning and case-based instruction in STEM disciplines, with a specific focus on engineering education.


LEARN MORE about MSU’s best and brightest faculty members at our official Honored Faculty website, where you can search and sort by name, college or position: msu.edu/honored faculty

Author: Devon Barrett, '11