Fall awardees impress and inspire with scholarship and service

From single-handedly keeping floors clean and lights on in large university buildings to writing a foundational book for Great Lakes research, the 2015 fall awardees have a distinguished record of research and service that extends well beyond the university. Read on, and prepare to be impressed with many of UWM’s finest.

UWM Faculty Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award

Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, assistant professor, Department of Art & Design

Meuninck-Ganger joined UWM in 2008, taking on a role that had previously been performed by three individuals, and she excelled.

She oversaw the entire area of print and narrative forms, where she designed and developed new and increasingly popular curricula. Meuninck-Ganger began introducing new digital techniques into the instruction to make the traditional printmaking coursework more engaging for her students. Her digital printmaking class has since become incredibly popular, and has become a gateway to other classes involving the blending of new and traditional media.

Meuninck-Ganger’s efforts have paid off, with her classes filling every semester and a high rate of student retention. She has also become a champion of extracurricular involvement with print and narrative form students becoming involved outside of the classroom. Under Meuninck-Ganger, the print club has grown to more than 20 members, who go on trips to museums and galleries, visit artists at local studios, and participate in international conferences and festivals.

Anne Bonds, associate professor, Department of Geography

Bonds has been an integral member of the geography and urban studies departments and an influential professor for her students since 2008.

“Her enthusiasm and commitment are palpable and infectious, and she has increasingly played a vital role, although often ‘behind-the-scenes’ in stimulating our undergraduates, TAs and faculty alike,” wrote Mick Day, professor emeritus in the Geography Department.

Bonds is an effective and caring instructor with a diverse academic background, allowing her to tackle the challenges of different courses with the proper tact. Colleagues and students have praised her work in her geography courses such as The Geography of Race in the United States and Perspectives on Geography.

“It was my experience in her class that led me to major in geography and it was my respect and admiration for Dr. Bonds that compelled me to request her guidance as my academic adviser,” wrote student Amy Rohan.

Bonds is an active member of her respective departments, chairing the lectures committee, serving on the public relations committee in the geography department, and on the student affairs committee in the urban studies department.

“Anne is a tremendously pleasant person, self-effacing, humble and totally dependable,” Day wrote.

John Berges, professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Berges has been a leader in teaching quality and innovation at UWM since 2002.

Berges has consistently taught one of the few freshman seminar courses in the natural sciences. He has integrated his class, Biology: One Equation at a Time into a residential Living Learning Community. For this class, he pioneered a blended format using class time to lead discussions and having the students complete their exercises online through D2L.

Former students have noted his ability to communicate effectively and to engage students in large lecture halls and in smaller class discussions. Berges introduces new work and research on the topics he teaches in order to provide his students with the latest scientific understanding available.

“Dr. Berges always seems to make the classes he teaches fun and stimulating,” wrote former student Sara Schaal. “I felt he really excelled when he could engage with individual students.”

Berges’ former students praised his ability to offer personal experience and his own wide breadth of knowledge while teaching and working with them.

UWM Faculty Distinguished University Service Award

Mark Schwartz, distinguished professor, Department of Geography

Schwartz has served on more than 20 committees at nearly every level of the university.

For 12 of the last 15 years, he has served on the University Committee, and has chaired the committee since 2010. He has also been the UWM faculty representative to the University of Wisconsin System.

“He is tireless in being the reasoned and public face of the UWM faculty,” wrote Distinguished Professor of History Margo Anderson.

In his home department of geography, Schwartz has been chair for the past 11 years. He has also served on course and curriculum and programmatic committees for the College of Letters and Science.

Schwartz has contributed greatly to UWM through his campuswide commitment, including serving on the search committees for three chancellors, and has still maintained his scholarly climatological research and teaching.

“I doubt any other faculty member has accumulated such a distinguished service record as Mark Schwartz has,” wrote Marcia Parsons, professor of dance.

UWM Faculty Distinguished Public Service Award

Gwat-Yong Lie, associate dean, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, Department of Social Work

Lie has contributed greatly to UWM and to the Milwaukee community, teaching and conducting research in child welfare, homelessness and women’s issues. She has used her expertise to give back to the community, and has been a part of several initiatives aimed at tackling these issues.

Lie has served as the principal investigator for the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and the Bureau of Child Welfare since 2001.

“Professor Lie’s work is actually doing something positive for the most vulnerable members of our community,” wrote Stan Stojkovic, dean of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.

Lie has secured grants for projects for the homeless, as well as substance and mental health abuse initiatives. Her programs have gone on to shape the policies and practices that address these and other issues in urban communities.

She is the UWM representative to the executive board of Milwaukee Continuum of Care, with the charge to end homelessness in Milwaukee.

“Gwat-Yong Lie has demonstrated her commitment to excellence in research, scholarship, and most importantly public service,” wrote Kathy Miller-Dillon, assistant chair of the women’s studies committee.

UWM Academic Staff Outstanding Performance & Service Award

Donna Genzmer, laboratory manager II, Cartography and Geographic Information Science Center

As the director of the Cartography and Geographic Information Science (GIS) Center, Genzmer, has been a leader and valuable resource for GIS activities at UWM.

“Donna is the glue that holds together all things GIS on campus, and between campus and the community,” wrote William E. Huxhold, professor in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning.

As director, Genzmer seeks grants and supervises graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines. She is incredibly helpful with students seeking GIS internship opportunities or with questions regarding GIS certificate programs. She is also an important member of the UWM GIS council, acting as the secretary, treasurer and web master.

Genzmer regularly volunteers to take on duties and tasks outside of her day-to-day job. For 15 years, she led the planning and marketing of the UWM GIS council and served as chairwoman of the committee. She has also served as an advisor to the UWM student GIS club and advises many students on GIS coursework and software.

“Donna Genzmer is an intelligent, thoughtful and skillful individual who has given generously and productively of her time in service to UWM, well beyond what is required or expected in her job duties,” wrote Mark Schwartz, distinguished professor of geography.

Linda Huang, administrative program manager III, Department of Global Inclusion & Engagement

Huang has championed a series of university and community initiatives aimed at improving UWM’s engagement with the community, as well as serving under-represented students in Milwaukee and across the country.

“She continuously searches for better ways to make UWM a better learning environment on campus,” wrote Chia Youyee Vang, associate professor of history

Huang has been with the Asian Faculty and Staff Association steering committee since it was established in 2004, working on fundraising for the awards program and organizing student events.

She has worked with the Organization of Chinese Americans in order to increase cultural awareness at UWM and the Milwaukee community and is also the program manager of the campus multi-cultural networking group.

The UWM chapter of the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) has seen growth and success in part due to the website and online presence created by Huang.

Nora Miller, associate researcher, Department of Human Movement Sciences

Miller has worked enthusiastically in her service to UWM and its engagement with the community.

As an associate researcher, Miller coordinates and manages all research activities conducted in the lab by faculty and students. She has demonstrated she is willing and able to develop a rapport with research participants and to build relationships to conduct and analyze research.

“Nora has gone above and beyond with her dedication to service over the years,” wrote Paula Rhyner, deputy to the provost for continuing education and outreach.

Miller translated her passion for health sciences to the community when she joined the Panther Prowl leadership team. The group meets year-round to plan the race with the campus community to raise money for student scholarships.

She has also worked to build a relationship between UWM and the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, while serving in the managers’ group overseeing thousands of runners and volunteers. She created a significant service learning opportunity for students to provide pre-race health screenings.

Miller goes beyond her duties as a member of the UWM Research Policy and Advisory committee and the Academic Staff Category B sub committee. She served as a member of the Enderis Hall Building and Safety Advisory Group, which is a 10-member campuswide group focused on maintaining a safe and healthy environment around UWM.

Nicole Palasz, senior administrative program specialist, Center for International Education

Since joining the Institute of World Affairs in 2006, Palasz has spearheaded engagement with the Milwaukee community and students.

Palasz has worked with colleagues to strengthen the institute’s relationship with Milwaukee Public Schools to boost underrepresented students’ access to international educational opportunities. She has led workshops for K-12 educators and events for students aimed at engaging area students in global perspectives and issues. She has also organized a number of events with international speakers at UWM and at area high schools.

“She brings a bigger vision to her work that I find inspiring,” wrote Julie Kline, associate director for the Institute of World Affairs.

In March, a U.S Department of Education Title VI meeting in Washington D.C. featured Palasz and her colleagues’ global-to-local service learning initiative with Milwaukee Public Schools.

Palasz was a driving force behind UWM’s involvement in the Human Trafficking Taskforce, and is engaged with the UMOS Latina resource Center and the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.

Palasz also serves the university with membership on the academic staff public relations subcommittee and the UWM Work/Life Balance committee.

“She happily takes on new challenges with the simple goal of making the Institute of World Affairs and UWM more relevant in the lives of members of our community,” wrote Douglas Savage, assistant director of the Institute of World Affairs.

UWM Academic Staff Outstanding Teaching Award

Benjamin Schneider, senior lecturer, Department of English/Film Studies

Schneider has been lauded by colleagues and students as an indispensible member of the English and film studies departments.

“Ben is on of the most dedicated and devoted educators I have ever come across,” wrote Andrew Martin, associate professor of English and film studies.

His time spent teaching and advising students has provided long-term stability to the programs he teaches, Martin wrote. Schneider has taught 16 courses over the last decade alone. Schneider’s ability to condense and convey large amounts of information in a lecture is an instructional strength.

As an equally inspiring and challenging professor, Schneider has been praised for his willingness to help others. He is very accommodating to students of all backgrounds and abilities. Students find Schneider to be inclusive and open to everyone’s ideas. Colleagues refer to him as a great resource, especially when it comes to teaching a challenging course.

“As a mentor and professor, Benjamin Schneider has had a profound impact on my life,” wrote Marni Hoest, film studies major.

Schneider is involved in the campus as an ombudsman and member of campus committees.

Joanne Lazirko Award for Excellence in Teaching With Technology

Benjamin Heinen, lecturer, Department of Criminal Justice

A sergeant with the Mequon Police Department, Heinen has championed student instruction online with new techniques for engaging students outside of the classroom environment.

“Ben is an incredibly enthusiastic instructor who utilizes his understanding of criminal justice along with his years of work experience in the field to create rich learning situations for his students,” wrote Nicole L. Weber, learning technology consultant with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Heinen was apprehensive when he was asked to teach an online criminal justice course, because being a police officer requires person-to-person interaction and he thought the instructional environment should mirror that. However, he decided instead to deliver his online class so as to engage his students to the greatest possible extent.

Heinen used videos he made to engage students in a “light-hearted manner.” He also used voice-over PowerPoints to offer a more personal lecture for the students, and to allow him to offer examples from his professional experience. Heinen used student response to video posts as an opportunity for engagement, often leaving lengthy replies for his students.

“His strategy was highly effective according to his students,” Weber wrote.

Earnest Spaights Plaza Honorees

Wilfred W. Fong, assistant dean, School of Information Studies (1985-2003)

Fong, a former assistant dean of the School of Information Studies (SOIS), was a pioneer in UWM’s history of technology-based instruction.

Fong began as a resource center manager at UWM and left as an assistant dean. His colleagues noted his extensive work to revamp SOIS technology for instruction and research beginning with the early days of desktop computers and laptops. Fong’s approach to information technology was pedagogical; He was always willing to help faculty and administration integrate information technology into their teaching and management of SOIS.

“He had vision, passion and a mindset of innovation in the growth of SOIS,” wrote WooSeob Jeong, associate professor.

Fong played a lead role in developing UWM’s information technology infrastructure. He worked on creating a sophisticated email server system, as well as a state-of-the art computer lab for students.

Fong established and taught undergraduate classes aimed at creating a better understanding of technology. He also helped to train faculty and staff to keep up with technology and its fast-paced progression.

Fong played a critical role in implementing programs such as the Master of Library Information Science (MLIS) and the Bachelor of Science in Information Resources. He worked to establish a number of international programs. The web-based MLIS program began with 12 students in 1995, and now has several hundred all over the world.

“Dr. Fong made significant and lasting contribution to the university,” wrote Jin Zhang, professor. “His services to the school and university are outstanding and exemplary.”

Clifford H. Mortimer, distinguished professor emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences (1966-1981)

A renowned scientist in the field of limnology – the study of freshwater lakes – the late Clifford Mortimer (d. 2010) spent a lifetime in pursuit of scholarly excellence and was the catalyst for some of UWM’s most distinguished scientific programs.

Mortimer, who had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society in London in 1958, was recruited to UWM in 1966 when his scientific interests became focused on the challenges and possibilities posed by the Great Lakes.

He was founding director of the Center for Great Lakes Studies, which would eventually become the School of Freshwater Sciences. At UWM, he was also a distinguished professor of zoology, predecessor to the Department of Biological Sciences.

Mortimer was the driving force behind the acquisition of the Harbor Campus building, which would later be converted into a research facility, as well as the Neeskay, a research vessel still used today. He also brought the first instrument shop, where the unique experimental devices are machined, to UWM.

“Clifford Mortimer is the father of this Great Lakes institution,” wrote J. Val Klump, professor and associate dean of research at the School of Freshwater Sciences.

In 1999, Mortimer published a book, “Lake Michigan in Motion,” that is considered a vital resource for the study of the Great Lakes. His work is still discussed at research conferences.

“No one working on a lake of any size could be ignorant of professor Mortimer’s contributions,” wrote John Berges, professor of biology.

Rachel I. Skalitzky, associate professor emerita, Department of Comparative Literature (1972-2003)

A professor of comparative literature, the late Rachel Skalitzky (d. 2014) was a dedicated faculty member and a pioneer of women’s representation and scholarship at UWM.

Skalitzky was a key force behind the establishment of the Women’s Studies program. At the time of the program’s inception in 1974, only 15 percent of the university’s faculty were women. The program was shrugged off as a “passing fad,” but under her directorship, starting in 1975, the program would become a solid facet of UWM scholarship.

As an important member of the comparative literature faculty, Skalitzky applied her interdisciplinary interests to her own work by teaching women’s studies courses in her original department. She also used the Office of Women’s Studies to sponsor outreach initiatives for women before the Women’s Resource Center was even established.

Skalitzky was an important figure behind increasing the involvement of women in administration and governance. She was often the convener of the Committee on the Academic Status of Women, where she used the time to mentor younger women faculty on preparing for promotion and campus involvement. Skalitzky successfully led a movement to get more women on governance committees by initiating bloc votes for female candidates.

“One recurring element to her mentorship has always been an uncompromising quest for fairness and equity grounded in the best professional standards,” wrote Erika Sander, associate professor emerita in the Department of Kinesiology.

“The contributions that Rachel Skalitzky made to UWM are immense,” wrote Kim Romenesko, senior academic advisor in the College of Letters and Science. “UWM is a better place because of Rachel Skalitzky’s leadership, advocacy and commitment to equality.”

University Staff Outstanding Service to UWM Award

Ann Nehring, IS supervisor II, UITS Client Services

Nehring is responsible for staffing both the UWM switchboard and the help desk, a resource that has served some 70,000 users a year since 2005.

She currently oversees five full-time and 70 student employees and has developed effective training practices for her staff in order to cope with the high rate of turnover with student employees.

“Her experience managing such a large number of students and staff is sought after and respected,” wrote Beth Schaefer.

Nehring frequently collaborates with other departments and organizations on projects. She worked with the UWM Student Association in its adoption of the information-sharing platform, KnowledgeBase. She was a driving force behind the campus implementation of Cherwell, a standard application for tracking customer related computer issues. She has also worked with the UWM Police Department to provide active shooter training for her staff.

“Ann is by nature a collaborative team player,” wrote Scott Kleba, a desktop support supervisor.

Nehring often provides leadership for the UW System help desks group, which meets several times a year to discuss ideas for their areas. Other UW System schools and Illinois State University have asked Nehring for advice regarding her daily operations in an effort to bolster own information service centers.

Dorothy Copeland, custodian, Custodial Services

For 18 years, Copeland has been contributing her exceptional service to make UWM a nicer, more enjoyable place to work and study.

A member of the custodial staff, Copeland has been praised for her tendency to take on more than is expected of her, often without being asked. She has spent most of her time working in Bolton Hall and the Geography Department, and has been known to handle the custodial responsibilities of the entire building when necessary. She has worked directly with department faculty, staff and students to organize and optimize trash collection, recycling and maintenance in Bolton Hall. Copeland continues to perform her duties beyond what is expected, even while she deals with health issues.

“Dorothy has gone ‘the extra mile’ each and every day, whenever asked, and usually through her own volition and without request,” wrote Michael Day, professor emeritus of geography.

Copeland is acutely aware of safety concerns, and assists with alerts and safety drills. She also participates in social activities within the Geography Department and has contributed to the collective good of the department. She is a helpful resource for the building, providing assistance and directions to staff, students and visitors to Bolton Hall.

“Quite simply, Dorothy has made the geography department a better, nicer place to work, and has brought a supportive and positive work environment to all of Bolton hall,” Day wrote.

Mary K. Bruno, UW human resources manager, Lubar School of Business

As a human resources manager for the Lubar School of Business, Bruno has proved to be an invaluable employee.

Known among her colleagues for her tireless work ethic, Bruno is often the first in the office in the morning and the last to leave. Her workload has been described as that of three people, and she tackles this work without complaint.

“Mary K. is unquestionably the welcoming face and exceptional colleague who sets the tone for our administrative and HR function,” wrote, Janice Miller, senior associate dean.

Bruno conducts the processing for UWM’s visiting scholars, and has taken it upon herself to help them find housing within the city. She has begun offering this service to all incoming faculty. This work, which goes beyond her job description, has become an important part of making UWM a welcoming experience for new faculty.

Bruno is an excellent trainer for incoming long-term employees, and over the past year she took responsibility for training the assistant to the associate dean, which was an important task during staff shortage.

Bruno has greatly improved the school’s recruiting process by providing support for screening resumes and preparing expert salary analysis and screening forms.

Elise Bechly, HR specialist senior, Department of Human Resources

Bechly is an integral human resources employee because of her efforts on the last two redesigns UWM’s Applicant Information Management System (AIMS).

“Elise is extremely knowledgeable on all HR functions, and is considered a subject matter expert in recruitment, classification and compensation,” wrote Ayron Vander Linden, human resources assistant advanced.

Bechly has been the project manager for the initiative to adapt AIMS since 2012, when she worked with a team of human resources staff to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the classified recruiting process. She was able to restructure the process, reducing the average approval time and the amount of paper records. Updating the system was an extremely involved process, because prior to its completion, half of the campus recruitments were done through the Office of State Employee Relations.

A second redesign of AIMS led by Bechly was aimed at conforming and adapting the system to the new requirements generated by the university personnel system.

“Through this effort UWM will be in a better position to recruit more efficiently, and through a more standardized, and meaningful process,” wrote Mario Babicic, senior HR specialist.


Ryoichi S. Amano, professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Amano is an established leader in the fields of turbo-machinery, aerospace and energy systems for power systems.

He has worked on high-profile aerospace propulsion engineering projects, including the aerojet engine at NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC); the gas turbine engine for Raptor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; and solid booster rocket engine research at the Air Force Research Lab at Edwards Air Force Base.

Amano’s research has captured the attention of many federal agencies and large companies, such as NASA, the U.S. Army, Toshiba and Hitachi.

In the energy field, some of his research has been used by Tokyo Electric Power Company in the construction of new power plants. Other work has developed a process to help power plants reduce harmful emissions.

“Heat transfer and fluid flow are amongst the key issues of great importance to R&D engineers for sustainable energy systems,” wrote Ashwani K. Gupta, distinguished university professor at the University of Maryland. “Professor Amano is an international authority in his field on modeling with focus on applications to power industry. His work on wind energy is well-recognized.”

Carol Hirschmugl, professor, Department of Physics

Hirschmugl’s approach to experimenting with infrared imaging at diffraction limit has made it possible to observe previously hidden surface structures.

She developed a specialized microscope that uses the ultra-bright, infrared light generated by synchrotron radiation to reveal high-quality chemical images of cellular and subcellular interactions.

This instrument has been sought by collaborators worldwide, including groups from Canada and Germany.

“She has been invited to various national laboratories and universities in the U.S. and Europe to jump-start infrared spectroscopy efforts there,” wrote F.J. Himpsel, physics professor emeritus at UW-Madison. These have included the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Yale University and the European Synchrotron Light Source workshop.

Some of her most recent work has been in extending imaging to three dimensions, which has made it possible to form chemical maps of protein and lipid structures in stem cells.

“Carol is a truly exceptional physicist who has advanced her career by a combination of ability, determination and focus, while excelling at every phase,” wrote Gwyn Williams, deputy division head at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility near Newport News, Virginia.

Reinhold Hutz, professor, Department of Biological Sciences

The research of Hutz has furthered the knowledge of reproductive technologies for people.

Renowned for his study in the reproduction of non-human primates, Hutz has combined several disciplines within the biological sciences that focus on reproduction. His work led to the development of in vitro fertilization techniques used to treat infertility in humans.

“Reinhold is a fantastic colleague; he is collaborative, collegial and has an impeccable reputation,” said Francesco J. DeMayo, professor of molecular and cellular biology at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Hutz is also an expert in the study of reproductive toxicology, investigating contaminants called endocrine disruptors, chemicals, which even in trace amounts, confuse the messaging system of the body’s hormones.

“He has had a truly impressive and productive scientific career,” wrote Robert Tanguay, distinguished professor of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology at Oregon State University.

Hutz’s career has also included multiple levels of service to UWM. In his nearly 30 years here, he has served as an interim associate dean for research in the Graduate School, Graduate Program director and co-director of the Natural Science Divisional Committee.

Fatemah “Mariam” Zahedi, professor, Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business

Zahedi has proven herself to be a distinguished scholar in the field of information systems.

Much of Zahedi’s work has been in the cutting-edge technology that includes social networks, cyber security and artificial intelligence. Her theoretical and empirical research focuses not only advancing technologies, but also on issues individuals encounter in using information technology and the ways to enhance their lives through the technology.

She has investigated both the negative side of information systems, such as security violations and privacy concerns, and also the valuable aspects, such as green advances and applications that improve health care.

In 22 years at UWM, Zahedi has held several prestigious positions – Wisconsin Distinguished Professor, Trisept Solutions Professor, James R. Mueller Distinguished Professor and her current role as the Roger L. Fitzsimonds Distinguished Scholar.

“She has elevated the profile of UW-Milwaukee in the information systems and business administration communities through her many excellent contributions,” wrote Izak Benbasat, distinguished professor of information systems at the University of British Columbia.

Zahedi has also brought her research to the community, working to share technology knowledge with minority and women entrepreneurs.


Joseph Peschio, associate professor, Department of Foreign Languages & Literature

In “The Poetics of Impudence and Intimacy in the Age of Pushkin,” Peschio explores the provocative and irreverent literary styles that proliferated during the Golden Age of Russian literature of the early 19th century. Collectively referred to as literary shalosti, these genres – including the friendly verse epistle, the burlesque, the epigram, the comic narrative poem and the prose parody – challenged existing literary institutions and a Russian regime vilified for the heightened state scrutiny into private life and its harsh suppression of the Decembrist uprising.

Peschio’s book is the first comprehensive history of Russian shalosti – whose literary manifestations included obscenities in poems, impenetrably obscure allusions and literary inside jokes. He argues that the formal innovations fueled by these rogue works posed a greater threat to the Russian government and established literary traditions than more overt criticisms or conventional forms of discourse.

William Mills Todd III, the Harry Tuchman Levin Professor of Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University, writes, “Peschio brings conceptual power, scholarly rigor, and an appropriately light touch to this important but elusive topic. An absolutely indispensable study of the creative irreverence of the Pushkin period.”

“The Poetics of Impudence and Intimacy in the Age of Pushkin” was published by the University of Wisconsin Press as part of its prestigious Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies series. The book was a 2014 finalist for the Best Book in Literary/Cultural Studies Prize sponsored by American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.

Tami Williams, associate professor, Department of English

The 2014 publication of “Germaine Dulac: A Cinema of Sensations” established Williams as the world’s leading authority on the first feminist filmmaker.

The first full-length historical study and critical biography of Dulac is the product of an ambitious research undertaking that critics have called “astounding.” Williams draws upon a massive amount of primary source material, including Dulac’s personal papers, production files and archival film prints.

Published as part of the Women and Film History International series from the University of Illinois Press, “Cinema of Sensations” explores the artistic and sociopolitical currents that shaped Dulac’s approach to cinema and also examines the groundbreaking techniques and strategies she used to critique conservative notions of gender and sexuality.

Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, associate professor of English at Rutgers University, calls the book “a monumental, extraordinarily well-researched, highly readable portrait of one of the most significant figures in the history of cinema.” She concludes,“There is, quite literally, no other book like it anywhere . . . It is the first book of its kind and will always be the best.”

Williams’ work on early French cinema and avant-garde culture has appeared in international journals and anthologies in English, French, German, Greek, Italian and Slovenian. She serves as secretary of Domitor, the international association for the study of early cinema. At UWM Williams has been a CIE Global Studies Fellow and Center for 21st Century Studies fellow, and has received seven travel awards from CIE and the UWM Office of Research.


Jason Puskar, associate professor, Department of English

It didn’t take long for Puskar to make an impression at UWM. Among some 300 applicants for an assistant professorship in English in 2005, “He stood out from the beginning as simply the best,” wrote Jane Gallop, distinguished professor of English and chair of the search committee. “His was hands-down the best writing sample of the sixty we read.”

His first book, “Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity, and the Production of Chance,” published by Stanford University Press in 2012, explores how the effects of chance, accidents, and the upheavals of modern life in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries were represented in realist American fiction. Puskar argues that literature at this time actively produced chance by categorizing injuries and losses as blameless accidents, and that doing so helped Americans develop new forms of social solidarity.

Of his forthcoming book, which explores the technology of the push button in modern American culture, Gallop wrote, “I was pretty much blown away by its originality, scholarly ambition, and sheer brilliance. The first book was very good; the second will be phenomenal.” Work on his first book was supported by a Research Growth Initiative grant, his second by a 2014-2015 fellowship at the Center for 21st Century Studies.

He is also a popular choice with students. Last spring he chaired four dissertation committees, served on seven others and chaired two graduate-level project committees.

Rafael Rodríguez Sevilla, associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Rodríguez Sevilla has achieved national and international prominence for his work on the evolution of behavior, specifically sexual selection and speciation in insects.

His department chair, Professor R. David Heathcote, says Rodríguez Sevilla’s work is “changing the way evolutionary biologists think about population divergence and the process of speciation.” He has adapted Doppler-laser vibrometry – a technique for detecting vibrations on surfaces – to measure in detail the vibrational signals of various kinds of male insects, and how females interact with them. Rodríguez Sevilla’s work has also revealed that social and rearing environments can influence the expression of insect genotypes.

Michael Greenfield, now a professor at Université François Rabelais de Tours, directed Rodriguez Sevilla’s dissertation, a National Science Foundation-funded project that he finished in 2002 at the University of Kansas.

“Without question, he is the most intellectually gifted of the 14 graduate students that I have trained over the years – the one most destined for a successful, long-term career in academia,” Greenfield wrote. “I have followed his progress and new directions, which I might describe as meteoric in the past few years.”

Rodríguez Sevilla has attracted more than $1.2 million in research funding. He has published 55 journal articles – 33 as lead author – and is associate editor of the journal Evolution, published by the Society for the Study of Evolution.

Xavier Siemens, associate professor, Department of Physics

When Siemens joined the UWM faculty in 2007, he was already a premier researcher in gravitational-wave astronomy – a reputation earned from postdoctoral work at UWM, as well as Caltech and other institutions.

Siemens is a leader in the search for gravitational waves, whose existence is predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. These faint, low-frequency waves carry information on the motions of objects in the universe, and their detection and analysis will allow scientists to observe further back into the history of the universe than ever before.

With Siemens’ novel incorporation of radio astronomy data into the quest, gravitational waves may soon be detected indirectly – as tiny fluctuations in the steady frequency of radio waves from spinning neutron stars. The promise of this idea has spawned the National Science Foundation’s new North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) – one of only 10 NSF Physics Frontiers Centers nationwide. With this five-year, $16 million grant, Siemens leads a team of more than 20 researchers from 11 institutions.

Siemens also contributes extensively to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration, a group of more than 900 scientists worldwide dedicated to the detection and analysis of gravitational waves – and the largest, most ambitious project ever funded by the NSF.

Siemens has published more than 150 papers, which have been cited more than 7,000 times. He has attracted more than $42 million in research grants – $34 million as principal investigator – including continuous funding from the NSF since 2008.




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