The University of Arizona

Faculty to be Honored at Induction Ceremony

By Jeff Harrison, January 21, 2009

The newest class of Regents' Professors and University Distinguished Professors will be formally inducted tomorrow.

Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson
Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling, Richard Wilkinson, Carrol McLaughlin, Paul Wilson

Five University of Arizona faculty members will be honored for their exceptional achievements, which of which have garnered them national and international recognition.

The induction ceremony will be held Jan. 22, at 4:30 p.m. in Crowder Hall, which is located in the Music Building, 1017 N. Olive Road.

UA Professors Howard Ochman, Elizabeth Vierling and Richard Wilkinson are the latest to be designated as Regents' Professors. Paul Wilson and Carroll McLaughlin are the newest University Distinguished Professors.

The honor of Regents' Professor is awarded only to full professors and is the highest honor awarded by the University to its faculty members.

No more than three percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty members may hold the rank at any given time. It requires nominations from other tenured faculty members and review by an advisory committee before the University president decides which names to forward to the Arizona Board of Regents for approval. The designation comes with a permanent $5,000 annual salary increase.

Individuals holding any faculty rank are eligible for University Distinguished Professor. The award honors those with at least 10 years teaching experience – half in undergraduate teaching – as well as a distinguished record of creative scholarship.

Those nominated also go through a review process before being selected. And like the Regents' Professor designation, the award carries a permanent $5,000 salary increase.

Regents' Professor Howard Ochman

Ochman, a professor in the ecology and evolutionary biology department and the biochemistry and molecular biophysics department, has helped confront major heath care challenges throughout his research.

Focusing on how bacterial genomes evolve, his research has illuminated basic principles of biological evolution and fostered understanding of the relationships between such fundamental processes and the mechanisms by which bacteria become pathogenic.

Ochman's seminal discovery that bacteria can readily acquire new genes by horizontal transfer from other distantly related species has revealed how antibiotic resistance can migrate among species. These studies, as well as others carried out by Ochman, have been recognized widely by the scientific community.

He is among "five people in the world who are clearly leading the whole field of microbiology into a new and much more comprehensive understanding of gene and genome evolution," said Professor W.F. Doolittle from Dalhousie University in Canada, whose comments were included in materials supporting Ochman's nomination. "Howard has been in the business the longest and has probably had the greatest influence."

Ochman developed an exceptionally successful undergraduate course titled "Human Genetics and Evolution," and, at the graduate level, has been heavily involved in the University's NSF-IGERT Program in Genomics. Through the program, he has taught two courses. One of them, "Problems in Genomics," has been very successful and has resulted in student-authored papers in top journals.

Regents' Professor Elizabeth Vierling

Vierling, a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of biological responses to heat stress.

Her work with small heat shock proteins, known as sHSPs, which had been poorly studied prior to her research, has made her an authority on the structure and function of this essential class of molecules.

Vierling was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000 and was elected to fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002. She also and earned Germany's prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Fellow Award in 2007.

Her outstanding research program has been continuously funded by competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Vierling has published her research findings in the top-tier journals of her field and has played a key role in the development of interdisciplinary training programs at the UA. She also has been an organizer and plenary speaker at national and international conferences in her field and served on prestigious editorial boards and grant review panels.

Regents' Professor Richard Wilkinson

Wilkinson, a professor in the departments of classics and Near Eastern studies, is internationally renowned for his eight popular books on Egyptology, which have been translated into 19 languages.

He also is famous for his leadership of the UA Egyptian Expedition as well as for his excavations in the Valley of the Kings – most notably of the mortuary temple of the 12th century B.C.E. Queen Tausert, one of the few Egyptian queens who ruled Egypt as pharaoh.

Wilkinson's numerous grants have come from institutions such as the Amarna Foundation, the American Research Center in Egypt and the Petty Foundation.

Along with his hugely successful books on Egypt, his 33 trend-setting articles and his consultancy to the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt have made him one of the 30 most important Egyptologists in the history of his field, according to a recent online survey.

His work on ancient hieroglyphs, "Reading Egyptian Art," was selected by the journal Antiquity as its Archaeology Book of the Year.

"People like Richard Wilkinson contribute to the progress of knowledge in the best sense of the term," said Greek archaeologist Nanno Marinatos. "His work in Egyptian iconography, religion and symbolism is a landmark in the history of Egyptian research. Most Egyptologists are art historians, archaeologists or textual scholars. Richard Wilkinson is all three."

The new University Distinguished Professors are Paul Wilson and Carroll McLaughlin.

University Distinguished Professor Paul N. Wilson

For more than 25 years, Wilson, a professor of agricultural and resource economics, has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education.

Over the past 10 years he has taught more than 2,000 students, many in high-enrollment courses. His teaching accomplishments, underscored by high student ratings of his innovative teaching methods, have been recognized in his receipt of the College of Agriculture and Life Science's Excellence in Teaching Award.

Despite efforts to reduce his advising load of half his department's undergraduates, students keep flocking to his office whether assigned to him or not.

Wilson has published articles on team learning and distance learning, and has organized symposia and seminars on teaching.

He also has earned several teaching awards including the Meritorious Teaching Award from the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture and the Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association.

While sharing his commitment and passion for teaching, he has maintained an active research program on water use and agricultural economics. Wilson is clearly a research scholar and outstanding teacher and the pinnacle of what we hope to achieve in a student-centered research university.

Truly exceptional teachers inspire those around them.

In the words of one of his students: "Dr. Wilson has been more than an adviser and a professor; his teaching reaches far beyond the classroom. Our first day of class, he stated his personal convictions: a truly inspiring message in a large liberal university setting. His personal integrity was present in his class actions and in his life, which he openly shared. Dr. Wilson's frank and honest manner about economics and about life has taught me that the most important learning often happens outside the classroom."

University Distinguished Professor Carrol McLaughlin

McLaughlin, a professor of music, has touched the lives of countless students at the UA.

This internationally recognized musician and educator, cited as one of the "most influential harpists of the 20th century," has created an exceptional self-contained laboratory for undergraduate education.

The centerpiece of McLaughlin's teaching, HarpFusion, which she founded in 1978 while still a student here, is emulated by music programs worldwide.

Students learn all aspects of the music business including performance, arranging and composition, production and engineering, and marketing and tour management.

Through expansive mentoring, extensive teaching and an intense exposure to the world's concert stages, her students have excelled. Many have pursued graduate education at the nation's best universities and conservatories and have become music education leaders in higher education, winners of harp competitions, principal harpists in world-renowned symphonies and internationally recognized performers.

McLaughlin's record of accomplishments includes more than 600 solo concerts, numerous recordings and published musical scores, and some two-dozen national and international tours.

Previously recognized with a Five Star Faculty Award, given by UA students through the Honors College, McLaughlin has blended her teaching, service and scholarship.

Her teaching transcends the classroom, extending to the "Arizona Harp Experience" summer camp, programs for young and national and international master classes and workshops.

McLaughlin's students laud her as being "the most outstanding example as a teacher, harpist, musician, professional, mentor and supporter" who has changed the lives of her students.

As one student said, "I have become so much more than I ever thought possible because I have come to know Dr. McLaughlin."