New UA Regents' Professors Honored

Dec. 2, 2005

The University of Arizona faculty members who have been named Regents' Professors will be formally recognized for their distinction at a ceremony during the Arizona Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Dec. 1.

The title Regents' Professor, created by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1987, serves as recognition of the highest academic merit and is awarded to faculty members who have made a unique contribution to the quality of the University through distinguished accomplishments in teaching scholarship, research or creative work.

In addition, two faculty members who have been named University Distinguished Professors will also be honored at the ceremony.

New Regents' Professors in 2005-2006

  • Michael Cusanovich
  • Michael Drake
  • Paula Fan
  • John Olsen
  • Jeanne Pemberton
  • Farhang Shadman
  • Vladimir Zakharov

New University Distinguished Professors in 2005-2006

  • George Gehrels
  • Harold Larson

About the New Regents' Professors
Michael Cusanovich, professor of biochemistry and director of the Arizona Research Laboratories, is a world-renowned expert in electron transfer reactions between proteins. He is especially well known for his research on bacterial cytochromes, and his findings are being applied to human medicine at an ever increasing rate.

Cusanovich has spent his entire academic career at The University of Arizona. In that time, he has dedicated much of his efforts to the advancement of scholarship. He has served as the vice president for research, dean of the Graduate College, vice president for research and graduate studies, interim provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and director of the Arizona Research Lab. In the words of a colleague, Cusanovich has been "a forceful champion for excellence" throughout his career at the UA.

Michael Drake, director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and professor of plantary sciences, is an internationally recognized scholar and leading researcher in the field of planetary geochemistry. He is recognized as one of the leading authorities on how the core formed in the early Earth, and his research has altered how scientists believe the core, mantle and crust were established.

Drake served as president of the Geochemical Society between 1998 and 1999 and the Meteoritical Society between 1999 and 2000, both elective positions only gained by the most outstanding members of each society. In 2004, he was awarded the Leonard Medal, the highest honor accorded by the Meteoritical Society, highlighting his distinction in the field of planetary geochemistry. According to a colleague, Drake's students "enthusiastically rank him as one of their best teachers."

Paula Fan, a professor in the School of Music, is widely acclaimed for her pioneering accomplishments in the field of collaborative piano performance. A sought-after pianist who has performed in the most prestigious European, Asian and North American venues, Fan has played more than one thousand performances in Arizona alone since 1976. Her expertise in the area of clarinet and piano duo repertory performance has led to numerous performances with the world's most distinguished classical clarinetists.

In a nominating letter, colleagues wrote, "Who can measure the vast sphere of influence of such an inspiring teacher and creative artist? We, her colleagues, attest to the immense influence she has had on our field and in the individual lives of countless listeners and students."

John Olsen, professor and head of the anthropology department, is the foremost authority on the early prehistory and archeology of Eastern and Central Asia in the English-speaking world. He has dedicated his research career to combining scientific findings with insight into behavior and adaptation, relating his work to current archeological theory and interpretation.

The findings Olsen has made have revolutionized thought within his field. "Only in the past decade have many scholars realized what John Olsen realized all along, that Central and Northern Asia, far from being peripheral areas, are crucial to understanding the unique biogeography and behavior of homo sapiens," wrote colleagues in a letter of nomination.

Chemistry Professor Jeanne Pemberton is a household name in chemistry departments across the country. Her research on surface vibrational spectroscopy has enabled fundamental advances in the field of analytical chemistry.

In her 25 years at The University of Arizona, Pemberton has received more than 40 research grants. Among the many boards and committees she serves, she was the chair of the Math and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee at the National Science Foundation in 2004. In addition to receiving the College of Science Distinguished Teaching Award, she has also received the distinguished American Chemical Society Award for Excellence in Analytical Chemistry, which is among the highest honors in her field.

Professor Farhang Shadman, director of the Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing in the College of Engineering, is respected worldwide for his seminal research contributions to reaction engineering and semi-conductor processing, which emphasize contamination control and environmentally-benign processing.

In 2000, he received the inaugural Landmark Innovation Award, given in recognition of his outstanding contributions in environmentally benign semiconductor manufacturing processes. The award was presented to him by Jack Kilby, a Nobel Prize winner in physics.

"Doctor Shadman's creativity has resulted in those very rare inventions that provide benefits for society and mankind by reducing environmental impact, as well as reducing costs so that industry can benefit economically," said Kilby.

Mathematics Professor Vladimir Zakharov has been described by colleagues as "one of the giants" of mathematical physics in the past 36 years. A native Russian, Zakharov organized a series of five now-famous Kiev conferences in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1989 and 1991, which brought together the best scientists of the world centrally involved in tackling the fascinating new world of nonlinear science.

The sheer scope of his work is staggering. As a colleague wrote in a letter of recommendation, "Zakharov is famous for the Zakharov-Shabat problem in the theory of integrability, the Zakharov-Rubenchik equations in plasma physics, the Zakharov equation in oceanography, the Kolmogorov-Zakharov spectrum, and the Zakharov transformation in wave turbulence and the list could be much longer."

About the New University Distinguished Professors
George Gehrels, professor of geosciences, is esteemed as an instructor dedicated to integrating teaching, research and service. Gehrels' whole-picture approach to education gives students hands-on experiences that enrich their classroom learning and leave lasting impacts. In his nearly 20 years at The University of Arizona, he has come to epitomize the idea of a student-centered research university.

Gehrels' role as a teacher does not end at the classroom doors. Each semester he provides his oceanography class with an optional weekend trip to the Sonoran port town of Puerto Peñasco to stay at a research center there. In addition, he serves as the undergraduate adviser for about 90 percent of the geosciences department, meeting regularly with students to ensure they are making progress toward their degree objectives.

Harold Larson, a professor of planetary sciences, is an innovative educator focused on meeting student needs within a university setting. After more than two decades of research in infrared planetary astronomy, in 1992 Professor Larson began teaching large undergraduate classes and focusing his efforts on finding effective ways to instruct courses with high student enrollments.

In addressing this need, Larson created the "Teaching Teams" program, which introduced the idea of undergraduate student "preceptors" to act as liaisons between the class and the instructor/teaching assistants as a means of connecting with large groups of undergraduates more effectively. The program, which first spread throughout the planetary sciences department, has since caught on within the university and has recently been adopted by at least three other universities around the nation.