CUNY Faculty Honored for Scholarship and Service

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Faculty of The City University of New York are leading national organizations, conducting groundbreaking research and being recognized for their scholarship with prestigious awards, according to campus reports of awards and grants.

Among the most recent honors include an international jury awarding the 2016 Stockholm Prize in Criminology, the most prestigious award in the field, to Cathy Spatz Widom, Distinguished Professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a faculty member of the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. She shares the prize with Travis Warren Hirschi, emeritus professor of sociology, University of Arizona, and Per-Olof Wikström, professor of ecological and developmental criminology, University of Cambridge. They jointly explore how parents and peers shape successes, or failures, in preventing adult violence and crime.

Other CUNY faculty members shine with equal brilliance in their fields. Their awards range from the $800,000 Balzan Prize for Mathematics, which recognizes a lifetime of achievement; to the leadership of prestigious organizations like Amnesty International USA, the American Sociological Association and the Society of American Historians; to international research and teaching sponsored by federally sponsored Fulbright grants; to research in the sciences and humanities sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Institutes of Health; to a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in poetry.

Chancellor James B. Milliken said: “The quality of a university is inextricably linked to the quality of its faculty.  And CUNY is a global leader in education and scholarship because it has such outstanding faculty.  The award winners we’re recognizing this year reflect the depth and breadth of the tremendous talent at CUNY.  I could not be more proud of them.”

Here is a sampling of the faculty award winners, selected to show their wide diversity of accomplishment and inquiry.

International prizes

Balzan Prize for Mathematics — Dennis Sullivan, Distinguished Professor of mathematics, CUNY Graduate Center; the prize, worth $800,000 in 2014, specifies that the recipient must use half of it “to finance research projects that are preferably carried out by young scholars or scientists.” The International Balzan Foundation’s website says it recognized Sullivan “for his major contributions to topology and the theory of dynamical systems, opening new perspectives for generations to come. For his exceptional results in many fields of mathematics, such as geometry, the theory of Kleinian groups, analysis and number theory … Above and beyond his results and discoveries, Sullivan has a unique talent for animating research and inspiring enthusiasm in young people. Sullivan has discovered vast territories, most of which remain to be explored. His influence on the community of mathematicians has been enormous.”

Laboratoires d’Excellence International Chair — Juliette Blevins, professor of linguistics, CUNY Graduate Center; 2016 International Chair and visiting professor at the Laboratoires d’Excellence Empirical Foundations of Linguistics in France. Labex EFL is a nine-year project, funded by the French government, with 12 research teams drawn primarily from French universities. She will work with a team at the French National Center for Scientific Research that links linguistics and anthropology, especially the documentation of unwritten languages.

NordSud International Prize for Literature and Science — Andre Aciman, Distinguished Professor of comparative literature, CUNY Graduate Center. The Pescarabruzzo Foundation established the prize to create a scholars’ “hall of fame” that encourages dialogue between the cultures and economies of the global north and the global south.

Rome Academy Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation — John Maciuika, assistant professor of fine and performing arts, Baruch College. The American Academy in Rome, chartered by Congress in 1905, allows scholars and emerging artists time to study in Rome, the source of so much of the West’s humanistic culture. Maciuika’s grant supports 11 months of research and writing in residence at the American Academy. He will work on the architecture of the baroque Berliner Stadtschloss, the Berlin City Palace, once the winter residence of Prussian kings and German emperors. Damaged in World War II, it is being rebuilt with private funds as a museum, hotel and commercial center.

Organizational Leadership

American Sociological Association — Ruth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of sociology, CUNY Graduate Center; president, 2015-2016.

Amnesty International USA — Reza Fakhari, assistant vice president for academic affairs, associate provost and professor of history, Kingsborough Community College; vice chairman, board of directors.

Eastern Sociological Society — John Torpey, Presidential Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center; president-elect 2015-16, president 2016-2017.

International Federation for Theatre Research — John Graham-Jones, professor of theatre, CUNY Graduate Center; president, 2015-2017.

Society of American Historians — David Nasaw, Arthur M. Schlesinger Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center; president of the Society of American Historians, 2014-2015.

Fulbright Fellowships

Fulbright to Finland — Elizabeth Whitney, professor of speech, communications and theater arts, Borough of Manhattan Community College; Fulbright to University of Turku and the Finnish Fulbright Center in Helsinki; “Arts Funding, Shared Values, and Digital Storytelling:  A Comparative Approach Between the United States and Finland.”

Fulbright to France — Howard A. Chernick, professor of economics, Hunter College; for lecture and research, Paris. “Collaboration on Project on Energy Policy and Federalism; Lecture on Public Finance.”

Fulbright to India — Simran Kaur, associate professor of biology, Queensborough Community College.

Fulbright to Italy — Martha Nadell, associate professor of children’s studies, Brooklyn College.

Fulbright to Norway — Irina A. Sekerina, professor of psychology, College of Staten Island; “Experimental Psycholinguistics and Bilingualism: Teaching and Research in Norway.”

Fulbright to Spain — Andrea Weiss, professor of media and communication arts, City College; to research a documentary film, “Bones of Contention.”

Fulbright to Taiwan — Anru Lee, associate professor of anthropology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; “The Afterlife of Women Workers: How Postindustrial Taiwan Contributes to the Study of Gender and Global Capitalism.”

Fulbright Regent’s University (London) Scholar Award —

Markus Bidell, associate professor of psychology, Hunter College.

Guggenheim Fellowship —Cate Marvin, professor of English, College of Staten Island; with the grant, she is pursuing a book of poems growing out of Willowbrook, the former state mental hospital that became synonymous with the warehousing and mistreatment of developmentally disabled patients; Willowbrook occupied the land now occupied by the College of Staten Island. The Guggenheim is a highly competitive midcareer award for people who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for scholarship or creativity in the arts.

Research Grants

Air Force Office of Scientific Research — Kevin Richard Lynch, assistant professor, and James Lewis Popp, associate professor of Earth and Physical Sciences, York College; “Threat Detection Using a Modular Cosmic Ray Muon Tomography System.”

AXA Research Fund — Deborah Balk, professor, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College; “Estimating City Growth, Urbanization and Climate-Related Risks in the 21st Century.”

National Institutes of Health, Center for HIV RNA Studies — Bruce Johnson, senior research director, Computational Science, Advanced Science Research Center; the focus of his study will be on determining the structural and mechanistic bases of HIV-1 RNA dependent replication functions at the cellular, viral and atomic levels.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Emma Tsui, assistant professor, CUNY School of Public Health; “Promoting low-wage and immigrant worker health via community-based workforce development organizations: A qualitative study.”

Department of Defense — Hamidreza Norouzi, assistant professor of construction management and civil engineering, New York City College of Technology; “Developing an Approach to Map Air Surface Maxima and Minima Temperatures by Exploring Surface Energy Balance.”

Department of Health and Human Services — Esther Son, assistant professor of social work, College of Staten Island; “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children’s Early Diagnostic and Health Services.”

Department of Justice — Cynthia Calkins, associate professor of psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; grant via Fairleigh Dickenson University, “Campus Sexual Misconduct: Using Perpetrator Risk Assessment and Tailored Treatment to Individualize Sanctioning.”

Elsevier Foundation — Preethi Radhakrishnan, associate professor of natural and applied sciences, LaGuardia Community College; “Motivating Enrollment of Women in STEM Majors.”

Lilly Endowment — Amy Adamczyk, associate professor of sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; award via University of Notre Dame, “Parental Culture and Practices of Intergenerational Transmission of Religious Faith to Children: Contexts, Commitments, and Consequences.”

National Aeronautics and Space Administration — Luis Anchordoqui, professor of physics and astronomy, Lehman College; “U.S. Participation in the Extreme Universe.”

National Aeronautics and Space Administration — Marie Chantale Damas, assistant professor of physics, Queensborough Community College; “NASA Solar and Atmospheric Research Program and Education Program.”

National Endowment for the Arts — Brenda Greene, professor, Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College; “The National Black Writers Conference.”

National Endowment for the Humanities — Alberto Hernandez, associate director of library and archives, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College; “The Archives of the Puerto Rico Diaspora Audiovisual Collection Preservation Assessment.”

National Endowment for the Humanities — Barbara Gail Montero, associate professor of philosophy, College of Staten Island; “Thought and Effort in Expert Action.”

National Institutes of Health — Gerardo Blumenkrantz, assistant professor, and Nancy Tag, professor of medial and communication arts, City College; “Social Marketing Communications Campaign to Increase Vaccination Rates Among Mexican Immigrants.”

National Institutes of Health — Jun Liang, assistant professor of science, Borough of Manhattan Community College; “Novel function of chloride intracellular channel protein (CLIC) and TGF-beta signaling in stress response and health span in Caenorhabditis elegans.”

National Institutes of Health — Kevin Gardner, director, structural biology initiative; Einstein Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Advanced Science Research Center; “Mechanistic principles of signal detection and transmission in bacterial two-component systems.”

National Institutes of Health — Naphtali O’Connor, associate professor of chemistry, Lehman College; “Polysaccharide-Polyamine Hydrogels.”

National Institutes of Health — Yu Gao, assistant professor of psychology, Brooklyn College; “Bio Markers for Conduct Problems: Abnormal conditioning to punishments and rewards.”

National Science Foundation — Aaron Socha, associate professor of chemistry and chemical technology, Bronx Community College; Innovation Corps, “Bionic Liquids.”

National Science Foundation — Charles Vörösmarty, director, CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative; Distinguished Scientist, NOAA-CREST, professor, Advanced Science Research Center; “A National Energy-Water System Assessment Framework (NEWS): Stage 1 Development.”

National Science Foundation — Francesc Ortega, associate professor of economics, Queens College; “Collaborative Research: The Effect of H-1B Workers on Innovation and Productivity in United States Firms.”

National Science Foundation — Mariya Bessonov, assistant professor of mathematics, New York City College of Technology; “Spatial Models in Ecology.”

National Science Foundation — Paul Forlano, assistant professor of biology, Brooklyn College; “Collaborative Research of Mechanisms of Sound Source Localization Underlying an Ancestral Mode of Vertebrate Hearing.”

National Science Foundation — Tony Ro, Presidential Professor of Psychology, CUNY Graduate Center; “Cortical mechanisms for visual perception.”

National Science Foundation, I-Corps — Yiannis Andreopoulos, professor of mechanical engineering, City College; I-Corps: “Fluidic Energy Harvesters for Green Building Applications.”

National Science Foundation/Rochester Institute of Technology — Andrew Rosenberg, assistant professor of computer science, Queens College; “Collaborative Research: Generating Accurate, Understandable Sign Language Animations Based on Analysis of Human Signing.”

Retirement Research Foundation — Andrew Maroko, assistant professor, CUNY School of Public Health; “Task force on the future of America’s health and retirement security.”

Spencer Foundation — Alia Tyner-Mullings, assistant professor of academics, Guttman Community College; “Transitioning from High-Stakes Testing: How Performance-Based Assessment Shapes Instruction, Curriculum, and School Culture.”

United States Air Force — Rein Ulijn, professor, director of nanoscience, Advanced Science Research Center; “Adaptive Nanostructures through Dynamic Molecular Systems.”

United States Department of Veterans Affairs — Ming-Chin Yeh, associate professor of urban public health, Hunter College; “Approaches to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease in Veterans.”

University of Michigan — Elizabeth Reis, visiting professor, Macaulay Honors College at CUNY; Institute for Research on Women and Gender Fellowship.

Other Awards

American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges —Anders Stachelek, assistant professor of mathematics, Hostos Community College; Project ACCESS Fellow.

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for Advancement and Support of Education — Cynthia Jones, lecturer in English, Hostos Community College; New York State Professor of the Year.

Eastern Queens Alliance — Rebecca Bratspies, professor of law, CUNY School of Law; Going Green/Healthy Environment Snowy Egret Award.

Independent Publisher Book Awards — Lisa Amowitz, professor of art and music, Bronx Community College; Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (Gold Medal for Young Adult Horror/Mystery) for “Vision” (Spencer Hill Press).

Society of American Law Teachers Great Teacher Award — Susan Bryant, professor of Law, CUNY School of Law.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy — Joan Standora, associate professor of behavioral sciences and human services, Kingsborough Community College; 2014 Advocates for Action Award.

The full list of award winners provided by CUNY’s 24 institutions will appear in December in a special edition of CUNY’s Salute to Scholars magazine and is available at