Date May 21, 2018
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Brown faculty members earn awards, distinctions

Scholars from across the University have won prestigious recognitions for their work in recent months

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In recent months, Brown faculty were honored for outstanding research, service and leadership in their fields of study with awards, fellowships and other honors. Earning both national and international recognition and support for their work, faculty members in fields ranging from classics and education to math and biostatistics won prestigious awards. Among such distinctions during the spring 2018 semester were the following honors:

In April, Constantine Gatsonis, a professor of biostatistics and director of the Center for Statistical Sciences at Brown’s School of Public Health, won the Marvin Zelen Leadership Award in statistical science from the Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The annual award was established to honor Dr. Marvin Zelen’s long and distinguished career as a statistician and his major role in shaping the field of biostatistics, and is given to recognize distinction and leadership in the field of statistical science. Gatsonis was honored by the award committee for his fundamental contributions to both statistical methodology and cancer research, and for establishing a thriving, productive and durable environment for statistical research and education at Brown.

Stephen Houston, professor of anthropology and social science, was awarded a fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies. The prestigious fellowships provide six to 12 months of support to a scholar undertaking a major piece of scholarly work. Houston will work on “Making, Sizing, Moving: Credit, Monumentality, and Direction in Maya Art and Writing,” a project that he describes as telling a disquieting story of how and why messaging was controlled in societies of profound inequality. Houston will examine classic Maya texts, images, carvings, buildings and murals from the period from 300 to 850 CE, and demonstrate how relative size, scale and representation of vertical or horizontal movement impact understanding of dynastic displays. Houston was also appointed as the inaugural Jay I. Kislak Chair of the study of the history and cultures of the early Americas in the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. The Kislak chair is awarded to distinguished scholars to support interdisciplinary inquiry using the Kislak Collections and related materials at the library. Houston will begin his tenure in September 2018 and will work on a project titled “Classic Choreography: The Meaning of Ancient Maya Movement.” His interpretations of stylized representations of the human body reveal the concepts that underlie ancient Maya existence, and his research on writing around the world reconstructs how early scripts begin, flourish and die.

Evelyn Hu-DeHart, a professor of history and American studies, was named the ACLS Centennial Fellow in the Dynamics of Place by the American Council of Learned Societies. She will work on a book project titled “Locating the Trans-Pacific in the Trans-Atlantic: Tracing the Course of the Chinese Diaspora through Spain and the Spanish Empire.” Hu-DeHart will focus on the missing narratives of Chinese migration and settlement in Spain and the Spanish empire, looking at the first permanent Chinese diasporic community in late 16th century in Spanish Manila and the Cuban sugar plantations in the mid-19th century, where Chinese contract laborers worked alongside African slaves. Finally, the project will look at Chinese immigrants in Spain today, which she says is part of the Chinese state-led policy to blanket Europe, Africa and Latin America with massive investment followed by people.

Mariam Issoufou Kamara, an adjunct associate professor of urban studies, won two architecture awards: the Global LafargeHolcim Award for the Middle East/Africa region, and the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative award. In March, Kamara won the LafargeHolcim silver award for “Legacy Restored,” a complex in Niger that reinterpreted traditional local construction to create a new mosque and community center. In February, Kamara won the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative award, which will enable her to work with architect David Adjaye. Mentors and protégés are asked to spend a minimum of six weeks together, granting a protégé access to a master at work, and sometimes resulting in collaborating on a work.

Three Brown education faculty, Matthew Kraft, John Papay and Ken Wong, were selected from a field of tens of thousands and named among the top 200 most influential education policy scholars in the 2018 RHSU (“Rick Hess Straight Up”) Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings. The list recognizes scholars in the U.S. who are contributing most substantially to public debates about education. Kraft, whose primary work focuses on efforts to improve educator and organizational effectiveness in K–12 urban public schools, is an assistant professor of education. He has published on topics including teacher coaching, teacher professional growth, teacher evaluation, teacher-parent communication, teacher layoffs, school working conditions and extended learning time. Papay, an assistant professor of education, focuses on teacher policy, the economics of education and teacher labor markets. He has published on teacher value-added models, teacher evaluation, high-stakes testing, teacher compensation and program evaluation methodology. Wong, a professor of education policy as well as international and public affairs and political science, has conducted extensive research in the politics of education, federalism, policy innovation, outcome-based accountability and governance redesign. 

Kathryn Mann, an assistant professor of mathematics, will be the 2019 AWM Joan & Joseph Birman Research Prize in Topology and Geometry prize winner. Awarded by the Association for Women in Mathematics, the honor serves to highlight outstanding contributions by women in the field and to advance the careers of the prize recipients. Mann’s work brings together problems and techniques from geometry, topology, geometric group theory and dynamics. She studies actions of infinite groups on manifolds and the moduli spaces of such actions: character varieties, spaces of flat or foliated bundles, spaces of left-invariant orders on groups. 

Professor of Engineering Daniel Mittleman won the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award in April. The foundation grants up to 100 such awards each year to researchers from around the world to support collaborative projects with scientists and researchers in Germany. The awards are granted to researchers “whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future,” according to the foundation. Mittleman was recognized for his work on the science and technology of terahertz radiation, and the award will support ongoing research and enable new partnerships involving devices for terahertz wireless communications and non-linear terahertz spectroscopy of materials. He will work with longtime collaborator Professor Martin Koch at the University of Marburg.

Stratis Papaioannou, an associate professor of classics and director of the medieval studies program, has won a Guggenheim Fellowship in support of “History of Byzantine Literature (330 CE-1453 CE),” a project that will provide a narrative of Byzantine texts and stories. Guggenheim fellowships offer six to 12 months of support for individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or creative ability in the arts. Papaioannou will devote his fellowship to telling the story of the Byzantine discursive tradition, which he characterizes as situated between East and West and which once offered an influential language of expression, understanding and imagination of oneself and of the world, shared by a wide variety of populations in the Mediterranean and Europe.

Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, an associate professor of Africana studies, was named one of the Top 25 Women in Higher Education by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine in its March 2018 issue. The magazine created the list in honor of Women’s History Month and called Perry, who specializes in the critical study of race, gender and politics in the Americas with a particular focus on black women’s activism, a pioneer whose achievements have paved the way for many others. 

Bhrigupati Singh, an assistant professor of anthropology, will be one of 20 fellows across the arts, literature, humanities and sciences to spend the academic year 2018-19 at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin. These fellowships are awarded to outstanding researchers from all disciplines and all over the world. Singh plans to spend his time at the institute writing his next book, which focuses on urban poverty and mental health.

Prerna Singh, an associate professor of political science and international and public affairs, and Wang Lu, an assistant professor of music, were selected as 2018-19 Berlin Prize Fellows. The prizes, which confer semester-long fellowships at the American Academy in Berlin’s lakeside Hans Arnhold Center in Berlin, are awarded annually to scholars, writers, composers and artists from the United States who represent the highest standards of excellence in their fields. Singh will be at the academy in fall 2018 to work on a book that melds comparative politics, historical sociology and public health to explore why polities with similar epidemiological, socioeconomic and demographic conditions have been characterized by strikingly different levels of effectiveness in countering equivalently severe challenges posed by a disease. Wang Lu will start her fellowship in spring 2019 and work on a multi-movement composition inspired by the replicas of iconic European landmarks — e.g., the Eiffel Tower, French boulevards, Venetian canals and Dutch windmills — that have been erected in the suburbs of large Chinese cities.