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Four researchers named recipients of University Scholarly Achievement Awards

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

LAWRENCE – Four University of Kansas faculty members have been named winners of the University Scholarly Achievement Award, which recognizes mid-career scholars who have made significant scholarly or research contributions to their fields.

The annual awards are presented in four fields: arts and humanities; clinical science; science, technology and mathematics; and social science and professional programs.

This year’s winners:

  • Sally Cornelison, associate professor, Department of Art History (arts and humanities)
  • Don Haider-Markel, professor, Department of Political Science (social science and professional programs)
  • Mikhail Medvedev, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy (science, technology and math)
  • Thomas Prisinzano, professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry (clinical science)

The winners were chosen for contributions that advance the field of scholarship, exhibit novelty and originality, promote scholarly and research activity at KU, and enhance the university’s national and international reputation. Recipients were nominated by their colleagues from KU and across the nation.

The four recipients will be honored at a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, in the Commons at Spooner Hall. All KU faculty and staff are invited to attend.

“The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “These four KU faculty members embody that mission every day through their teaching and scholarship. The University Scholarly Achievement Award recognizes the value of their achievements to the state, nation and world and is a strong reminder of the world-class faculty we have here at KU.”

This is the third year KU has presented the University Scholarly Achievement Awards.

More information about this year’s recipients is available below.

Sally Cornelison
Sally Cornelison is an associate professor art history and a specialist in the history of Italian art. In 2012, Cornelison published her first single-authored book, “Art and the Relic of St. Antoninus in Renaissance Florence,” an interdisciplinary examination of the history and visual culture of the relic cult devoted to Florence’s sainted archbishop, Antoninus Pierozzi. This book demonstrated for the first time that popular and civic devotions to the saint’s remains, which were entombed in the Florentine church of San Marco, were key elements of Florence’s sacred cityscape and generated a significant visual tradition.

While completing her book manuscript, Cornelison also curated an exhibit for the Spencer Museum of Art titled “Giorgio Vasari and Court Culture in Late Renaissance Italy” – for which she wrote three peer-reviewed essays in the Vasari issue of the Register of the Spencer Museum of Art – while organizing and serving as program committee chair of the seventh quadrennial Italian Renaissance Sculpture Conference at the Spencer.

Don Haider-Markel
Don Haider-Markel is chair of the Department of Political Science and a highly regarded scholar whose research spans political science, criminal justice, environmental issues, psychology and sociology. His body of work focuses on the way that minorities – particularly women, gays, and African-Americans – are represented in the American political system and how those groups organize to voice their concerns. For example, his 2010 book, “Out and Running,” examines the role of candidates’ sexual orientation in state legislative elections and the subsequent influence of gay and lesbian legislators on state policy.

Haider-Markel is among the most prolific and visible scholars in his discipline. He has authored or co-authored 45 peer-reviewed articles and various books. He is currently preparing the “Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government” with 50 contributors, has a co-authored book titled “Pulled Over: Racial Framing of Police Stops” in progress, and is jointly editing an additional volume for the University of Michigan on transgender rights and politics.

Mikhail Medvedev
Mikhail Medvedev is a professor of physics and astronomy whose pioneering work on so-called collision-less shocks has founded several research areas in astrophysics, high-energy-density plasma physics and astrobiology. His now-classic 1999 paper developed the theory of relativistic collision-less shocks, or extreme cosmic blasts. In two other papers, he developed a new theory of "jitter radiation" to explain how gamma-ray bursts – the most powerful explosions in the universe – emit light, which is important to the energy sciences.

Additionally, Medvedev’s shock waves research has had an impact on astrobiology. In 2006, he proposed that there is a link between cosmic phenomena and terrestrial life on Earth and introduced the idea of the “62-million-year cycle of biodiversity,” a concept that has since generated tremendous scholarly and mainstream media attention.

Thomas Prisinzano
Thomas Prisinzano is chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and an expert on the chemical mechanisms of addiction, particularly on agents that function as opioid receptors. His recent work rests on the discovery of Salvinorin A derivatives as novel opioid binding agents. He is working to modify Salvinorin A, a natural product, to create new medications for the treatment of drug dependence and pain.  In short, he is well on his way to converting Salvinorin A from a recreational drug to a molecule of clinical potential. He has co-founded a company, Mencuro Therapeutics, and his compounds have a real chance of reaching the clinic as pain-reducing agents.

Prisinzano has more than 80 peer-reviewed publications – 53 since 2004 – and three patents. He received the 2012 Robertson Award from the American Chemical Society, given annually to a single promising medicinal chemist under 40 years of age.

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