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Distinguished McKnight University Professors

The Distinguished McKnight Professorship program recognizes outstanding faculty members who have recently achieved full professor status. Recipients hold the title “Distinguished McKnight Professor” for as long as they remain at the University of Minnesota.

2014 Award Announcement


2013 Distinguished McKnight Professors

Paul Glewwe
Applied Economics
The Impact of Government Policies on Education, Child Nutrition, Poverty and Inequality in Developing Countries

Professor Glewwe conducts research on the impact of education policies on school enrollment and student learning in developing countries. He also studies the impact of health policies on child nutrition, the impact of child nutrition on education, and the nature of (and policy impacts on) poverty and inequality in developing countries. He recently started research on education in Minnesota. His research, which requires collecting new household and student level data, covers African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries. He is recognized internationally as one of the very best researchers on education, poverty, and data collection methods in developing countries.

Gary Muehlbauer
Agronomy & Plant Genetics; Plant Biology
Genomics Applied to Studying Plant Function and Agricultural Productivity

Professor Muehlbauer is an internationally recognized leader in applying genomics to studying plant function and agricultural productivity. He has made seminal discoveries in multiple disciplines including: fungal disease resistance, plant development, genomics approaches to crop improvement, and sequencing the barley genome. Professor Muehlbauer’s research has been published in the most prestigious journals and his work has been cited over 2500 times. He was previously awarded a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. Currently, he is directing two large collaborative research projects including: developing wheat and barley for changing climates, and enhancing the quality of the barley genome sequence.

Andrew Oxenham
Psychology; Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Fundamental and Translational Contributions to Understanding Human Hearing and Disorders

Professor Oxenham is an internationally renowned leader in hearing research who has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of normal and impaired auditory processing. About 15% of the US population, or 45 million people, suffer from some hearing loss. Professor Oxenham’s work has provided new insights into the relationship between auditory physiology and the perceptual effects of hearing loss, and fundamentally altered our understanding of pitch coding in speech and music. He has been honored by major awards from organizations such as the American Auditory Society, the Acoustical Society of America, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Barbara Welke
History; Law
Law and the Conditions of Freedom in Everyday Life

Professor Welke's pioneering interdisciplinary research traces the relationship between law and economy and legal selfhood and citizenship from the founding era of the United States through the development of a mass production, mass consumption economy in the twentieth century. Her work has provided a crucial foundation for understanding the relationship between power and abundance on the one hand and security and the character of American democracy on the other. Welke's research has been published by top university presses and journals and has had broad national and international influence.

Zhi-Li Zhang
Computer Science and Engineering
Computer Networking and Internet Development: Packet Scheduling, Video Delivery, Reliable Network Routing, and Network Management

Professor Zhang is a world leader in computer networking, with wide-ranging contributions to the research and development of the Internet networking technology. He is internationally respected for his works on packet scheduling and Internet quality-of-service, and on improving the reliability of Internet routing systems – the “glue” that pieces together various networks. Many of his pioneer ideas and novel algorithms (e.g., video smoothing and staging, service overlay, traffic profiling) have been adopted in real systems. Zhang is a Fellow of IEEE.

Previous Recipients

Note: Only current U of M faculty appear in this listing.

David Andow, Entomology — Ecological and evolutionary principles in environmental sciences

Lydia Artymiw, Music — Piano performance

Gary J. Balas, Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics — Control theory

George Barany, Chemistry — Peptide synthesis

Frank S. Bates, Chemical Engineering & Materials Science — Synthesized molecular polymer structures

Saif Benjafaar, Mechanical Engineering — Science and engineering of supply chain operations

Judith Berman, Genetics, Cell Biology & Development — Model and pathogenic yeasts

David Bernlohr, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics — Lipid metabolism

John C. Bischof, Mechanical Engineering — Biomaterial cryopreservation and thermal therapies

Graham V. Candler, Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics — Computational hypersonic fluid dynamics

Bernardo Cockburn, Mathematics — Computational mathematics

Bianca M. Conti-Fine, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics — Molecular immunology

Christopher J. Cramer, Chemistry — Computational chemistry

Jeffrey J. Derby, Chemical Engineering & Materials Science — Computational models of crystal growth

Mark Distefano, Chemistry — Protein chemistry for biotechnology and health applications

R. Lawrence Edwards, Geology & Geophysics — Climate change in the earth’s recent past

Ann M. Fallon, Entomology — Insect molecular biology

James H. Fetzer, Philosophy-UMD Philosophy of science

Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Civil Engineering — Hydrologic science

Patricia A. Frazier, Psychology Coping with traumatic life events

John Freeman, Political Science — Economic growth and redistribution of wealth

C. Daniel Frisbie, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Materials and Process Design for Flexible, Next Generation Electronics

Megan Gunnar, Child Development — Stress hormones and human development

Patricia Hampl, English — Writings of fiction, memoirs, essays, and poetry

Bin He, Biomedical Engineering — Biomedical imaging and neuroengineering

Marc A. Hillmyer, Chemistry Nanostructured polymers for the environment

Marc Hirschmann, Geology & Geophysics — High-pressure experimental studies of partial melting of the mantle and deep-earth volatile cycles

Wei-Shou Hu, Chemical Engineering & Materials Science — Cell culture engineering

William G. Iacono, Psychology — Biological markers for schizophrenia

Richard D. James, Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics — Mechanical behavior of solid phase matter

Marc K. Jenkins, Microbiology — Immunology

Timothy J. Kehoe, Economics — General economic equilibrium analysis

Joseph A. Konstan, Computer Science & Engineering — Human-computer interaction

Uwe R. Kortshagen, Mechanical Engineering — Plasma research

Gordon E. Legge, Psychology — Psychology of vision, perception, and reading

Timothy P. Lodge, Chemistry — Experimental physical chemistry/polymer science

Ann S. Masten, Child Development — Resilience in children at risk

Claudia Neuhauser, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior — Research at the interface of mathematics and biology

Eric A. Newman, Neuroscience — Functions of glial cells in the brain

Keith A. Olive, Physics & Astronomy — Cosmological astrophysics and the nature of the universe

S. Douglas Olson, Classical & Near Eastern Studies — Ancient Greek literature

Deniz Ones, Psychology — Measuring psychological characteristics for employment

Craig Packer, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior — Behavior of African lions

Nikos P. Papanikolopoulos, Computer Science & Engineering — Robotics and automation

Keshab K. Parhi, Electrical & Computer Engineering — Very Large Scale Integration design

David Y. H. Pui, Mechanical Engineering — Aerosol science

Peter B. Reich, Forest Resources — Forest and grassland ecology

Victor Reiner, Mathematics — Algebraic combinatorics

John Riedl, Computer Science and Engineering Recommender Systems for the Social Web

Steven Ruggles, History — Historical family demography

C. Ford Runge, Applied Economics — Agricultural policy analysis and the economics of trade

Michael J. Sadowsky, Soil, Water & Climate — Environmental microbiology

David Samuels, Political Science Sources of Good Government: Why New Democracies Are Established and How They Represent Voters' Concerns

Sachin S. Sapatnekar, Electrical & Computer Engineering — Computer-aided design of integrated circuits

Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics Designer Microorganisms for Drug Discovery and Biotechnology

Shashi Shekhar, Computer Science & Engineering — Computational structure of large spatial databases

J. Ilja Siepmann, Chemistry — Molecular simulation of complex chemical systems and processes

Kathryn A. Sikkink, Political Science — International relations and comparative politics

Marla Spivak, Entomology — Honeybee behavior

Andreas Stein, Chemistry — Synthesis of porous materials and nanostructures

Vladimír Sverák, Mathematics — Pure and applied mathematics

G. David Tilman, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior — Biodiversity and the well-being of ecosystems

William B. Tolman, Chemistry — Bioinorganic chemistry

Robert T. Tranquillo, Chemical Engineering & Materials Science — Biomedical engineering

Christopher Uggen, Sociology — The effect of life course transitions on crime and deviance

Lawrence P. Wackett, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics — Biocatalysis and biodegradation

Jian-Ping Wang, Electrical and Computer Engineering — Magnetic Materials and Spintronic Devices for Information Storage and Computing and Molecular Diagnostics

John Watkins, English — Early mordern literature and the transformation of monarchy

Li-Na Wei, Pharmacology— Vitamin A and Gene Regulation

Eric Weitz, History — German history

Donna L. Whitney, Geology & Geophysics Geo-materials research and applications to continental tectonics

Nevin Dale Young, Plant Pathology — Legume genetics and genomics/bioinformatics