UA to Bestow Honorary Degrees on Science Leaders

Ewen Adair Whitaker, Phillip C. Miller, Richard N. Morrison and Dr. Douglas G. Stuart will be awarded honorary degrees during Friday's graduate student commencement ceremony.
May 10, 2011
Extra Info: 

Free parking will be available in any surface lot or parking garage. The disabled drop-off area is on Fred Enke Drive on the south side of McKale Memorial Center.

What: 
The UA's 144th Commencement Ceremonies
When: 
McKale Memorial Center
Where: 
Graduate Ceremony: 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13; Undergraduate Ceremony: 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14
The UA's spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 13-14. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)
The UA's spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 13-14. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)

The University of Arizona will bestow honorary degrees to the following UA supporters and leaders in their fields during its Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 13: Ewen Adair Whitaker, Phillip C. Miller, Richard N. Morrison and Dr. Douglas G. Stuart.

The Friday commencement ceremony will be held for graduate students, and the Saturday, May 14 commencent ceremony will be held for undergraduates. 

Ewen Adair Whitaker

Whitaker will be awarded a doctor of science from the UA College of Science for his life-long service to science and for mankind.

Whitaker was born on June 22, 1922, in London. In 1940, he began work as a laboratory assistant with Siemens Brothers. He later was exempted from military service because his work at Siemens was itself vitally important to the war effort – he worked on the top-secret PLUTO project, conducting spectrochemical analysis of underwater gasoline supply pipes to be used for the D-Day Normandy landings.

In 1949, Whitaker became an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and then, in 1956, at Herstmonceux Castle. Astrometry and astrophysics were his vocation, but selenography, the study of the surface and physical features of the moon, became the avocation that would lead him to Tucson and to the Apollo program.

In 1955, at the Ninth Congress of the International Astronomical Union, the eminent planetary astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper issued a memorandum emphasizing the need for a high-quality, accurate lunar atlas and soliciting interest in a lunar atlas project. Whitaker was the only person to respond.

Kuiper offered the young scientist a job on the "Lunar Project" headquartered at the University of Chicago/Yerkes Observatory. He spent two years at Yerkes before moving to Tucson, where Kuiper founded the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, or LPL, at the UA in 1960. That same year, President Kennedy committed the U.S. to landing a man on the moon. the "Lunar Project" – the scope of Whitaker's work – quickly became a matter of national interest and concern.

Whitaker's research was fundamental to the success of the manned lunar program. He pioneered the technique of ground based differential UV/Infrared lunar photography, resulting in the first compositional maps of lava flows on the moon. These maps were also instrumental to the selection of landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions.

In 1964, he was tasked with selecting impact sites for Rangers 6 and 7. He later located the landed positions of four Surveyors; the Surveyor 3 site eventually was chosen as the Apollo 12 landing site.

He also selected sites for Lunar Orbiter 5. Whitaker briefed astronauts for Apollo missions 13, 15 and 16. He analyzed Apollo images and located the impact craters formed by the Ranger 7 and 9 spacecraft and the Apollo 13 and 14 SIVB modules. Knowing the masses, impact velocities, and impact angles of these craters meant that equations for impact mechanics could be tested and refined.

In between missions, Whitaker continued Kuiper's lunar atlas project, which included supplements produced and printed in Tucson: the "Orthographic Atlas of the Moon," the "Rectified Lunar Atlas" and the "Consolidated Lunar Atlas," consisting of extremely high-quality photos obtained with the 61-inch reflector telescope on Mt. Bigelow. His book "Mapping and Naming the Moon," published in 1999, gives a definitive account of the history of lunar maps and nomenclature.   

Whitaker's other achievements include the discovery and approximate determination of the orbital eccentricity/inclination of the Uranian satellite Miranda (made possible by a method he devised), nomenclature of 60 previously unnamed lunar craters, nomenclature of 14 far-side craters to commemorate the Challenger and Columbia astronauts, determination of dates on which Galileo made his drawings of the moon and composed the various relevant sections of Sidereus Nuncius, and the invention of a system for naming craters on the moon's far side.

Not least among Whitaker's accomplishments is his role in the development of LPL as a world-class leader in planetary studies. He retired from LPL and the UA in 1987.

Phillip C. Miller

Miller will be awarded a doctor of science from the UA College of Science for his research and development in the intervention, diagnosis and care for cancer patients. 

Miller holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Indiana and is currently the senior vice president of technology and applied research at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., which is based in Tucson. Ventana develops, manufacturers and markets instrument/reagent systems and has grown to be the world's leading developer and manufacturer of tissue-based diagnostic instruments and tests focused on the detection of cancer.

Ventana was founded in 1985 by professor and pathologist Dr. Thomas Grogan from the UA. Miller originally joined Ventana in 1988 as vice president of research and development, where he was involved in the early development of Ventana and a key participant in raising venture capital bringing to Arizona not only local jobs, but also national and international prestige.

Across his career, Miller has held senior management positions in research and development at Nichols Institute Diagnostics; Research Corporation Technologies Inc.; Abbott Laboratories Inc.; William H. Rorer Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and Ames Division of Miles Laboratories Inc.

While at Abbott Laboratories, he developed novel immunoassay and technologies, which allowed ultrasensitive detection of biological molecules using unprecedented patented concepts.

During his first tenure at Ventana in 1988 as the vice president of research and development, he was the architect and inventor of the Ventana automate tissue chemistry instrument, which combined novel detection chemistry and engineering features allowing full automate chemistry of tissue biopsies. During his time at Nichols Institute, he developed a novel random access instrument and assays for the clinical reference laboratory. Miller returned to Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., in 2000.

In his more than 25 year career in the health-care industry, Miller's research and development activities have focused on improving the chemistry of tissue diagnosis. Through his work, he has made outstanding seminal contributions to the field of cancer diagnosis at a global level, and his inventions have improved the lives of many cancer patients.

The impact of Miller's research and development involving the chemistry of tissue diagnosis and related inventions on the diagnosis and care of cancer patients worldwide is deserving of honor and recognition.

Richard N. Morrison

Morrison will be awarded a doctor of humane letters from the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for his contributions to natural resources leadership, resolution of Indian water rights claims and the management and conservation of natural resources. 

Morrison attended the UA, graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1970, and received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1977 from the University of Houston. He is an attorney, a partner in several family owned farming and ranching businesses and an Episcopal priest having also received a Master of Arts from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1991.

He is a co-founder of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University and has served on the boards of organizations as diverse as the Arizona Town Hall, Claremont School of Theology, Desert Botanical Gardens, Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Baseline Rotary Club of Mesa, Commission of Excellence for Maricopa Community Colleges and the East Valley Partnership.

Professionally, he has served on the boards of the National Advisory Council on Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Maricopa County Pollution Control Corporation and the American Agricultural Law Association. He is a longstanding member of the American Bar Association.

As part of his legal practice, Morrison has worked on water resource availability, Arizona's most significant natural resource challenge. His work has focused on settling the water rights claims of Native American Nations in Arizona.

As an attorney for irrigation districts, he has been part of the team developing settlement outcomes that have been considered fair and equitable. This experience led him to consider ethical matters relating to natural resource dispute resolution, which was a focal point of his post-graduate work at the San Francisco Theological Seminary and in his later writings.

As an active member of the Water Resources Research Center External Advisory Committee, he focused on programs related to education of students of all ages, including those in the work force. As director of the C.W. and Modene Neely Charitable Foundation, he has been instrumental in securing the funding necessary to establish two professorships at the University of Arizona:  the C.W. Modene Neely Endowed Professorship for Excellence in Agriculture and Life Science, which supports the work of the Water Resources Research Center; and the Neely Family Endowed Professorship for Excellence in Agriculture and Life Sciences in the Agricultural Education Department. 

Housed in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, these professorships represent more than $1 million of private funding and would not have been possible without Morrison's unwavering commitment and support of the college and the UA.

Dr. Douglas G. Stuart

Stuart will be awarded a doctor of science from the UA Graduate College for his vision, determination, creativity and tireless dedication to the UA and its College of Medicine. 

Stuart was born and received his early education in Australia. He came to the U.S. to study at Michigan State University, where he earned a Bachelor in Science and Master of Arts degree with an emphasis on physiology. Subsequent graduate work at UCLA led to a doctoral degree in physiology followed by two years of postdoctoral research training in movement neuroscience. Following a junior-faculty appointment at UCLA and a tenured associate professor position at UC-Davis, he joined the UA in 1967 as an associate professor of physiology and became a founding faculty member of the College of Medicine.

He became a full professor in 1970 and Regents' Professor in 1990. He has served as head of the department of physiology and associate dean for research in the College of Medicine, and since his retirement in 2002, is Regents' Professor Emeritus.

Stuart is one of the world's leading electrophysiological investigators of the spinal motor control system, the neurobiology of muscle fatigue, and the history of movement neuroscience.

He founded and served as director of a state-wide pre- and postdoctoral interdisciplinary research program in movement neuroscience. The program was supported by a National Institute of Health training grant and in recent years he has been the program's informal archivist/historian.

Now operating informally, the program continues to strengthen collaborative and educational ties between the physical and life sciences at the University, and among the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona State University and at Northern Arizona University.

His contributions include serving as an outstanding mentor for students and faculty colleagues and generously giving untold time and attention to younger scientists through one-on-one sessions, including renowned breakfast meetings – always boosting confidence, commitment and enthusiasm.

Stuart forged links between biomedicine and engineering at the UA and was active in Arizona's networking strategies for economic development, particularly in high-technology areas related to bioindustry. His powerful example lives on, as many of his former trainees now hold professorships and headships at leading research universities and institutes in the U.S. and abroad.

Most notably, in 1980-84, Stuart led a sustained and challenging faculty effort to diversify and develop the field of neuroscience at the UA through the establishment of units devoted to invertebrate neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience and campus-wide graduate education in interdisciplinary neuroscience.

Those organizational initiatives brought to the University the enterprises that, respectively, now are the department of neuroscience, the Arizona Research Laboratories Division of Neural Systems, Memory and Aging and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience.