2013 Award Recipients
Recipients of the 2013 Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity
Professor of Astronomy
Daniela Calzetti has gained worldwide recognition for her research on interstellar dust and how it effects the observation of galaxies. She has shown that the rates at which galaxies form new stars can be properly determined only after the effects of interstellar dust have been factored in. That discovery has opened a new era of precision measurement of galactic properties and helped illuminate the long-term evolution of galaxies.
Calzetti is one of the few astronomers in the world to have had a scientific law named for her. Calzetti’s Law, critical to interpreting and modeling galaxies, has applications in everything from theoretical simulations to observations of distant and nearby galaxy populations, as well as to such analysis packages as HyperZ, IDL, and Sauron Code.
One of Calzetti’s articles has been cited more than a thousand times, and with nearly 4,000 citations for her first-author articles she is her department’s most-cited faculty member. She currently heads a project that was awarded 154 orbits of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Education: Laurea in Physics, University of Rome, 1987; PhD, University of Rome, 1992.
Significant Honors:Fellowship, European Space Agency, 1990–92; AURA Science Award, 1999; NASA Goddard Group Achievement Award, 2003; Distinguished Visitor, Spitzer Science Center, Pasadena, Calif., 2007; Thomson Scientific Fast-Moving Fronts, 2008; Blaauw Professor, University of Gröningen (The Netherlands) Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, 2013; U.S. Member, European Space Agency Euclid Science Consortium, 2013 (through 2028).
Andrew Glyn Professor of Economics
After suffering political persecution as a prisoner of conscience in his native Burundi, Léonce Ndikumana now devotes his research and scholarship to improving the lives of some of the planet’s most impoverished people. His work focuses on macroeconomic policy in Africa, the subject of several of his books and fifty-plus articles.
Ndikumana’s latest work, on capital flight from Africa, has had a major impact on policy debate. It shows that the continent has suffered more than $1 trillion in capital flight since 1970, making it an international net creditor, not a net debtor.
After receiving tenure at UMass Amherst in 2002, Ndikumana was appointed chief of macroeconomic analysis at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and subsequently became director of development economics research at the African Development Bank. He returned to this campus in 2011 to serve as Andrew Glyn Professor of Economics and direct the African Policy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute.
Education: BA, University of Burundi, 1986; MA, Washington University, 1992; PhD, Washington University, 1996.
Significant Honors: Dudley Seers Memorial Prize, Journal of Development Studies, 2003; Fulbright Scholar, University of Cape Town, 2003–04; President, African Finance and Economics Association, 2005–07; Honorary Professor, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2011–13; Member, United Nations Committee on Development Policy, 2013 (through 2015).
STEPHEN R. PLATT
Professor of History
Stephen Platt is an acclaimed authority on nineteenth-century Chinese history. His superbly written book Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War, published in 2012, has been greatly admired by specialist and non-specialist readers alike and has significantly altered historians’ perceptions of that conflict.
Platt had earlier written Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China (2007) and he has two books in progress: Pacific Overtures: The United States and China in the Nineteenth Century, co-authored with Heather Cox Richardson of Boston College, and Canton: A Global History of the Coming of the Opium War. The former shows how the Pacific world as a system existed long before the more general rise of China and Asia and so-called “globalization.”
Education: BA (English), Yale University, 1993; MA (English Language and Literature), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1996; MA (History, 1999), MA (East Asian Studies, 1999), MPhil (History, 2001), and PhD (History, 2004), all from Yale University.
Significant Honors: Fulbright Grant, Taiwan, 2001–02; Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2003; Smart Family Foundation Prize for Nonfiction Writing, 2004; Theron Rockwell Field Prize, Yale University, 2004; National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2007; Public Intellectuals Fellow, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, 2008–10; Cundill Prize in History, 2012.
DANNY J. SCHNELL
Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
A groundbreaker in the biochemical and genetic analysis of the biogenesis of chloroplasts and the photosynthetic apparatus in plants, Danny J. Schnell has published 69 journal articles, reviews, and book chapters and garnered more than 2,500 non-self citations. He has been active in the American Society of Plant Biologists, having served as Chair of the Board of Trustees and two of its committees and been named a society fellow. He also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Schnell first assumed a leadership role on this campus as director of the Plant Biology Graduate Program. He then headed the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program for six years while codirecting the Institute for Massachusetts Biofuels Research, after which he became principal investigator of a $4.2 million project for the Department of Energy’s Plants Engineered to Replace Oil Program. The project unites several campus groups, an industrial partner, and researchers from two other institutions to engineer a non-food crop for biofuel. .
Education: BS, University of Nebraska, 1983; PhD, University of California-Davis, 1987.
Significant Honors: Chair (appointed), Board of Trustees, American Society of Plant Biologists, 2006–07; Secretary (elected), American Society of Plant Biologists, 2007–09; Invitation Fellowship for Research in Japan, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 2008; N. Edward Tolbert Endowed Lectureship in Plant Biochemistry, Michigan State University, 2009; Troika Mentor, Interdisciplinary Research Organization, University of Miyazaki (Japan), 2009; Fellow, American Society of Plant Biologists, 2012; Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2012.
Professor of Chemistry
Sankaran “Thai” Thayumanavan’s research spans a broad realm from cancer therapy using novel drug delivery vehicles to generating organic solar-cell materials. His research is most innovative in its design of new and often unorthodox molecules and materials that result in breakthroughs in important areas. One recent such example is Thayumanavan’s work in developing fundamentally new molecular design algorithms for nanomaterials that predictably respond to subtle variations in their environment.
Thayumanavan is further renowned for his ability to arrive at practical molecular systems to solve important problems, such as polymer nanogels that are capable of delivering both proteins and small hydrophobic molecules to targeted cells and sub-cellular compartments. His stature in his field is attested to by the extraordinary number of presentations he has been invited to make at international conferences.
On campus Thayumanavan is celebrated for his great success in winning National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health grant funding and in securing large center grants that benefit many researchers.
Education: BS, American College (Madurai, India), 1987; MS, American College, 1989; PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996.
Significant Honors: Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award, 2002; Discussion Leader, “Chemistry of Supramolecules and Assemblies” Gordon Conference, 2005; Burlew Award, American Chemical Society, Connecticut Valley Section, 2008; Fellow (elected), American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, 2011; Member, International Advisory Boards, Polytech (India) and the Federation of Asian Polymer Societies, 2013; Scientific Co-Leader, Bioactive Delivery Concept Team, Mass Life Science Center, 2013.