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Six faculty earn professorships
Six University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors have been awarded professorships from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.
"These distinguished members of our faculty demonstrate the very best of the university’s missions of teaching, research, and service," said Katherine Ankerson, executive vice chancellor. "We are grateful to them for sharing their vibrant work and expertise with us at Nebraska.”
Of the six awarded, one faculty member received a University Professorship, which recognizes those who have shown an extraordinary level of scholarly or creative achievement and clear potential for continuing accomplishments.
- Alexei Gruverman will be Charles J. Mach professor of physics and astronomy. Gruverman currently holds a Charles Bessey professorship and conducts research related to ferroelectric materials, which are critical elements of modern electronics. He pioneered the use of piezoresponse force microscopy for nondestructive imaging of ferroelectric domains and his method is now actively used in ferroelectric research worldwide. His research into applications of PFM has resulted in over 240 publications, many in journals of international stature. The impact of Gruverman's research spans more than 15,000 citations of his work and numerous invitations to seminars. He has received many awards and honors, most notable being the Humboldt Research Award and being named an International Fellow of the Japan Society of Applied Physics. Gruverman has won, led, and participated in about 20 research projects as PI or co-PI with total funding of more than $34 million ($3 million as principal investigator) over his career. He played a major role in the success of the National Science Foundation-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, as well as several other large multi-investigator grants.
Two faculty members were named Willa Cather/Charles Bessey professors. The professorship was established in 2001 to recognize faculty members with the rank of professor who have established exceptional records of distinguished scholarship or creative activity.
- Ronald Faller will be Willa Cather research professor in the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility. Faller is also the director of the facility and conducts research on a variety of safety measures, including roadside barriers, to ensure occupant safety when vehicles are involved in crashes. He has led the development of many devices that have become U.S. standards, saving numerous lives and preventing countless injuries. Faller and his team receive external research funding averaging more than $5 million per year. Their findings are published in prestigious journals and they have received Best Paper awards 13 times. Most recently, MwRSF received the Breakthrough Innovation of the Year award from NUtech Ventures for its Delta Crash Cushion. Faller also helped to develop the first national “Transportation Pooled Fund” program, in which state Departments of Transportation collectively combined research funding together to address challenging problems in safety. Faller holds 14 patents, chaired the first International Roadside Safety Conference within the Transportation Research Board, and has received the prestigious Kenneth A. Stonex Roadside Safety Award.
- Leen-Kiat Soh will be Charles Bessey professor in the School of Computing. Soh conducts research on multiagent systems, intelligent data analytics, and computer science education with a focus on improving teaching and learning, supporting online collaboration, and facilitating adaptive decision making. He also models smart grids, human learning, and social unrest to explore emergent behaviors through computational simulations. Soh has published more than 200 peer-reviewed technical papers. While at the university, Soh has secured over $20 million in external funding as principal or co-principal investigator. Soh’s work in CS education has contributed to fundamental research, courseware development, professional training, education, instruction and outreach in the discipline. Key findings include identifying learner profiles and performance in post-secondary CS courses and establishing computational creativity as an effective intervention to improve student learning in CS courses for majors and non-majors. Additional outcomes include the development of new courses for teachers teaching CS and training of STEM teachers to improve their programming skills, directly impacting more than 100 K-12 teachers across Nebraska
Two faculty members were named Susan J. Rosowski associate professors. The professorship recognizes faculty at the associate professor level who have achieved distinguished records of scholarship or creative activity and who show exceptional promise for future excellence.
- Rebecca Brock will be Susan J. Rosowski associate professor of psychology. Brock conducts research on the role of couple and family relationships in depression, anxiety, and related aspects of health, with a particular interest in understanding these processes in underrepresented and at-risk populations. She has produced 84 peer-reviewed publications and 11 book chapters, and her team science manuscript using machine learning to predict relationship quality was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is also associate editor for the journal Family Process. Brock has been designated a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science and was invited to participate in an important research consortium focused on postpartum depression. She serves on a number of graduate supervisory committees and has received the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dean's Award for Excellence in Graduate Education.
- Rebecca Roston will be Susan J. Rosowski associate professor of biochemistry. Roston, a member of university Center for Plant Science Innovation, conducts research on how membrane dynamics can contribute to plant health by using a combination of genetics, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and biophysical approaches to study how plant species respond to temperature stress. She and her collaborative teams publish highly-referenced papers in high-profile journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also successfully compete for funding from federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. Roston has received the Arthur C. Neish Young Investigator Award from the Phytochemical Society of North America and a NSF CAREER Award. She has been named chair of the 2023 Gordon Conference on Plant Lipids.
One faculty member was named Aaron Douglas/John E. Weaver professor. The professorship was established in 2008 to recognize faculty members with the rank of full professor who demonstrate sustained and extraordinary levels of teaching excellence and national visibility for instructional activities and practice.
- Eve Brank will be Aaron Douglas professor of psychology. Brank is also the director of the Center on Children, Families and the Law. She teaches and mentors at the intersection of psychology and the law using an approach described as student-centered, inclusive and effective. Brank designs her courses so that students leave with practical skills or useful products such as funding proposals or manuscripts. Brank also works with faculty as co-director of the Faculty-led Inquiry into Reflective and Scholarly Teaching (formerly Peer Review of Teaching Project). Brank has received departmental and national awards for teaching and mentorship. Undergraduate and graduate students are co-authors with her on approximately 80% of her publications and her recently published book, Psychology of Family Law, received a major award from the American Psychology-Law Society. A first-generation college graduate, Brank is committed to mentoring underrepresented graduate students and students from less-privileged backgrounds.