Celebrating research rock stars

From: Douglas A. Girod, Chancellor; Simon Atkinson, Vice Chancellor for Research
Sent: Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 9:06 a.m.
To: KU Lawrence staff, faculty and affiliates

Faculty, staff, students and friends,

Many of the major challenges facing our planet are being addressed right here in Kansas by some of the world’s most distinguished scholars. That becomes readily apparent when you assemble the winners of KU’s top research awards in one place and ask them to talk about their work and what inspires their continued inquiry. There’s no doubt they embrace KU’s role as one of our nation’s leading research universities with a special responsibility to address society’s grand challenges.

Last week we held the first-ever University Research Awards ceremony to honor these rock stars of our research community. For years, KU has presented various research awards and recognized the winners with separate announcements and ceremonies. Last year, we decided to enhance the way we celebrate our research award winners by convening all of them at the same time for a red-carpet event at the Burge Union — and inviting the entire university to join the celebration.

Unfortunately, that event was postponed due to the pandemic, and we still weren’t quite ready to gather in person this spring. So we logged in for a virtual recognition ceremony, and we’re sharing the recording of that event today with the KU community.

We hope you will watch the video and hear from the 2020 and 2021 award winners about the motivation for their work, their successes, and the noble goals they hope to achieve. These honorees are role models for their colleagues and their students. They embody KU’s mission, and they set us apart as an AAU institution.

We know that you will be proud of their efforts to make discoveries and innovations that improve lives, create jobs and prosperity, and help us better understand our world — from the roots in our soils to the stars in our skies and everywhere in between.

Congratulations to all of the recipients, and keep up the great work.


Doug and Simon

Douglas A. Girod

Simon Atkinson
Vice Chancellor for Research

And the winners are…

KU Research Postdoctoral Achievement Award

  • Tom Hill | Rob Unckless Lab, Department of Molecular Biosciences (2020)
  • Anna Wallisch | Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, Life Span Institute (2021)

KU Research Staff Achievement Award

  • Jie Chen | Achievement & Assessment Institute (2020)
  • Shelley Bredin-Oja | KU Fragile X Research Lab | Life Span Institute (2021)

Steven F. Warren Research Achievement Award

  • Dale Walker | Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, Life Span Institute (2020)>
  • Maggie Witek | Department of Chemistry | Center of BioModular Multi-Scale Systems for Precision Medicine (2021)

University Scholarly Achievement Awards

  • Sarah Finocchario Kessler | Department of Family Medicine & Community Health, KU Medical Center (2020)
  • Stuart Macdonald | Department of Molecular Biosciences (2020)
  • Laura Mielke | Department of English (2020)
  • Karrie Shogren | Department of Special Education | KU Center on Development Disabilities, Life Span Institute (2020)
  • Kelsie Forbush | Department of Psychology (2021)
  • K.C. Kong | Department of Physics & Astronomy (2021)
  • Nicole Nollen | Department of Population Health, KU Medical Center (2021)
  • Peter Ojiambo | Department of African & African-American Studies (2021)

Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards

  • Perry Alexander | Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science | Information & Telecommunication Technology Center (2020)
  • James H. Edgar | Department of Chemical Engineering, Kansas State University (2020)
  • Donald Haider-Markel | Department of Political Science (2020)
  • Andrew Godwin | Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine | KU Cancer Center (2020)
  • Sharon Billings | Ecology & Evolutionary Biology | Kansas Biological Survey (2021)
  • Michael Hoeflich | School of Law (2021)
  • Kelly Kindscher | Environmental Studies Program | Kansas Biological Survey (2021)
  • Juergen Richt | College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University (2021)