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McKnight Presidential Fellows

The McKnight Presidential Fellows Program is a three-year award given to the most promising individuals who have been granted both tenure and promotion to associate professor in an academic year. It recognizes recipients who are recommended by their college dean and chosen at the discretion of the executive vice president and provost based on excellence in research and scholarship, leadership, potential to build top-tier programs, and ability to advance University of Minnesota priorities.

2019-20 to 2021-22

  • Tony Low

    Tony Low

    Electrical & Computer Engineering
    College of Science & Engineering

    Light-matter interactions in two-dimensional atomic crystals

    Tony Low has made significant contributions to the fundamental understanding of plasmonic and optoelectronic properties in the exciting class of atomically thin two-dimensional materials. His internationally recognized theoretical research provides original blueprints on the use of these materials to manipulate light, particularly in the mid-infrared spectrum. These materials offer the promise of key breakthrough applications in the mid-infrared spectrum, such as nanophotonics, biosensing, beam forming, and thermal detectors.

  • Annie-Laurie McRee

    Annie-Laurie McRee

    Medical School

    Improving health by promoting adolescent vaccination and preventive services

    Widespread vaccination against human papillomavirus has the potential to prevent several types of cancer, yet many young people are not receiving it. Annie-Laurie McRee’s research centers on addressing this gap. She seeks to advance behavioral, public health, and health services approaches to increasing adolescent vaccination and improving adolescents’ receipt of preventive services, particularly around sexual and reproductive health. Her scholarship is characterized by close collaboration with interdisciplinary colleagues and has helped shape current best practices in the field.

  • Soumya Sen

    Soumya Sen

    Information & Decision Sciences
    Carlson School of Management

    Designing systems and pricing solutions for a sustainable Internet ecosystem

    Advances in information technologies, such as mobile, cloud, and AI, hold promise for transforming our society. But their successful implementation depends on our ability to holistically address technical, economic, and social issues. Sen’s interdisciplinary research accounts for these factors in designing IT systems and incentive schemes that help businesses and users make optimal decisions. His pioneering work on “smart data pricing” explores ways to reduce Internet congestion and realize affordable data plans for wider access.

  • David M. Vock

    David M. Vock

    School of Public Health

    Right treatment for the right patient at the right time

    David Vock develops methods for causal inference — a set of statistical tools used to determine the effect of an intervention from observational data – and dynamic treatment regimes, which are used to evaluate and advance personalized treatment strategies. His work has contributed to understanding the survival benefit of lung transplantation and he developed novel statistical methods for evaluating approaches to distributing cadaveric organs to those awaiting transplantation. He is currently developing methodology for tobacco regulatory science to gauge the impact of potential product regulation.

  • Terrion L. Williamson

    Terrion L. Williamson

    African American & African Studies
    College of Liberal Arts

    Social life, serialized death, and engaged black feminist praxis

    Terrion Williamson is an interdisciplinary black feminist scholar. A native of Peoria, Illinois, her first book, Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life (2017) uses her hometown as a primary site of interrogation. Currently, she serves as the founding director of the Black Midwest Initiative and is working on both an edited volume about blackness in the Midwest and a book titled We Cannot Live Without Our Lives, a study of black women and serial murder in the U.S.

  • Jason J. Wolff

    Jason J. Wolff

    Educational Psychology
    College of Education & Human Development

    Pre-symptomatic detection and intervention for autism spectrum disorder

    Early intervention can dramatically improve outcomes for children with autism. However, a significant challenge has been the identification and treatment of such children as early as possible. Wolff’s research addresses this issue through the prospective, longitudinal study of early behavioral and brain development. Currently, he is investigating precursors of maladaptive sensory and repetitive behaviors associated with autism, developing novel approaches to infant intervention, and refining ground-breaking methods to detect autism in infancy.

  • Rui Zhang

    Rui Zhang

    Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems
    College of Pharmacy

    Discovering pharmacovigilance using artificial intelligence on biomedical big data

    Dr. Zhang investigates how artificial intelligence can help discover novel pharmacovigilance knowledge from biomedical big data. He has created an innovative translational informatics framework, which enables the generation of hypotheses about clinical issues by mining the biomedical literature and by validating the findings in electronic health record data from large healthcare systems. This signal-generating system accelerates the rate of recognizing new patterns (e.g., drug-supplement interactions, pharmacogenomics-drug relationships) and consequences for health care.

2018-19 to 2020-21

Daheia J. Barr-AndersonDaheia J. Barr-Anderson
College of Education & Human Development

Daheia Barr-Anderson's research focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and obesity prevention in children and adolescents, especially African-American females. Her research examines multi-level factors that influence physical activity among youth and is testing the efficacy of community- and family-based interventions designed to increase physical activity and improve nutrition among sedentary individuals. Professor Barr-Anderson is also exploring how factors within the home activity and food environments interact with individual and interpersonal factors to contribute to overweight and obesity in children, adolescents, and their families.

Gordon BurtchGordon Burtch
Information & Decision Sciences
Carlson School of Management

Gordon Burtch does pioneering work on the topic of online crowdfunding. His research explores and quantifies the influence and economic impact of social mechanisms on individual participation in, and contributions toward, online venues. His work has explored the antecedents and economic consequences of peer influence and individual anonymity amongst contributors, as well as the impact of supplying users with website anonymity features. His work on user-generated content (UGC) has explored the impacts of platform policy and design interventions that interact with social mechanisms, like social norms and social presence, to influence the volume and characteristics of UGC, such as online reviews.

David J. FlanniganDavid J. Flannigan
Chemical Engineering & Materials Science
College of Science & Engineering

David Flannigan is the leading inventor and pioneer of time-resolved, ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM), a technique that is revolutionizing our understanding of the atomic scale structure of materials. One of his important breakthroughs is the direct imaging of lattice phonons (vibrations) in semiconductors. Phonons are responsible for acoustic and thermal energy transport in materials. Flannigan’s UEM allows them to be visualized for the first time, opening up the possibility of directly probing how nanoscopic defects such as dislocations, inclusions, and grain boundaries – which are ubiquitous in real materials – impact the flow of energy.

Michael GallopeMichael Gallope
Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature
College of Liberal Arts

Michael Gallope has established a distinguished record of academic achievement for his work in the areas of music, philosophy, and the cultural history of the avant-garde. Professor Gallope’s recent book, Deep Refrains: Music, Philosophy, and the Ineffable (2017), has been described as an “impressive tour de force” and as reframing “music's contribution to critical discourse and humanistic inquiry.” By examining modern European philosophers’ writings on music in a way that spans traditional boundaries, Professor Gallope’s work elucidates the surprising centrality of music and sound to twentieth-century critiques of modern life.

William C. K. PomerantzWilliam C. K. Pomerantz
College of Science & Engineering

Will Pomerantz’s research addresses a longstanding question in chemical biology, which is whether protein-protein interactions (PPIs), which play an essential part in biological processes and human disease, can be affected by drugs.  His research program seeks to understand the details of PPIs, with a focus on improving our knowledge of macromolecular recognition events. Professor Pomerantz uses a multi-pronged approach to inhibit PPIs and develop new synthetic molecules to both image and disrupt harmful PPIs, with applications to the treatment of cancer.


2017-18 to 2019-20

Rafael Fernandes
Physics & Astronomy, CSE
John R. Fieberg
Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology/CFANS
Tania Mitchell
Organizational Leadership, Policy & Development/CEHD
Francis X. Shen
Law/Law School
Chun Wang


2009-10 to 2011-12

Jacques Finlay Ecology, Evolution & Behavior/CBS
Timothy Griffin
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics/CBS
Nathan Kuncel
Frances Vavrus
Organizational Leadership, Policy & Development/CEHD
Hui Zou


2008-09 to 2010-11

Michael Gaudio Art History/CLA
Joseph Gaugler Nursing
Lee Penn Chemistry/IT
Kathleen Vohs Marketing & Logistics Management/CSOM
Yuhong Xiang Psychology/CLA


2007-08 to 2009-10

Wilma Koutstaal Psychology/CLA
Chris Leighton Chemical Engineering & Materials Science/IT
J. Michael Oakes Epidemiology & Community Health/Public Health
Marco Peloso Physics & Astronomy/IT
Andrew Scheil English/CLA


2006-07 to 2008-09

Ezra Miller Mathematics/IT
Ben Munson Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences/CLA
Beth Stadler Electrical & Computer Engineering/IT
Kathleen Thomas Institute of Child Development/CEHD
David Treuer English/CLA
George Weiblen Plant Biology/CBS


2005-06 to 2007-08

Michael Goldman Sociology/CLA
Krishnan Mahesh Aerospace Engineering/IT
Fernando Porte-Agel Civil Engineering/IT
Claudia Schmidt-Dannert Biology, Molecular Biology, & Biophysics/CBS
Theodore Schoen Music/UMD


2004-05 to 2006-07

Paulo Kufiji Neuroscience/Medical School
Erika Lee History/CLA
Tian-jun Li Mathematics/IT
Melanie Wall Biostatistics/Public Health


2003-04 to 2005-06

Paul Crowell Physics & Astronomy /IT
Robert Krueger Psychology/CLA
Kariuki Njenga Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences/VetMed
Yong-Zhong Quian Physics & Astronomy/IT
Kirt Wilson Communication Studies/CLA


2001-02 to 2003-04

Cathy Carlson Veterinary Population Medicine/VetMed
Wei Chen Cancer Center/AHC
Mats Heimdahl Computer Science /IT
Richa Nagar Women's Studies /CLA
Chris Uggen Sociology/CLA