UWM names five new distinguished professors

Five members of the UW-Milwaukee faculty have been named distinguished professors, bringing the number of active distinguished professors to 33.

Since 1973, 52 UWM faculty members have been named distinguished professors for their scholarly achievements and productivity, and in recognition of their distinction by their peers, nationally and internationally.

“Designation as a distinguished professor is a recognition of a faculty member’s outstanding research record and the international impact of his or her work in the field,” said Robert Schwartz, professor of philosophy and chair of the distinguished professors committee. “The award not only honors the recipient, but serves to highlight the major contributions UWM faculty make to scholarship as well as enhance UWM’s reputation of as a world-class research university.”

Here’s a brief introduction to UWM’s newest distinguished professors.

Kathleen Dolan, professor of political science

(UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

Dolan’s work focuses on women as candidates, gender stereotyping in voting and elections, and political knowledge and participation. Her first book, “Voting for Women: How the Public Evaluates Women Candidates,” is required reading in graduate and undergraduate syllabi. More recently she is the author of “When Does Gender Matter? Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections,” published by Oxford University Press.

Her publications are among the most frequently cited by scholars who study women and politics, with more than 2,300 citations nationally and internationally. She is regularly sought after by national media for commentary on political matters and was interviewed over 40 times in 2016 alone, and including 13 times by international media outlets.

Writing for the political science executive committee, associate professor Paru Shah noted that Dolan’s peers at other institutions attested to her “international distinction” in her fields of research, and that she has “contributed to, advanced and has a significant impact” in these fields.” The letters stressed:

  • Dolan’s reputation as a leading scholar in the field of women, gender and politics;
  • the continued importance of Dolan’s books and scholarship; and
  • her leadership in the discipline and professional service.

Dolan received her doctorate from University of Maryland-College Park in 1991 and joined the UWM faculty in 1993. Among many professional service activities, she has served as co-president of the Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association from 2013 to 2015.

Thomas Holbrook, Wilder Crane Professor of Government

(UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

Holbrook’s scholarship is concentrated primarily on voter behavior, though he has also contributed to the research literature on state and local politics. His first book, “Do Campaigns Matter?” (1996, Sage Press) has been cited over 750 times. His latest book, “Altered States,” was published in 2016 by Oxford University Press. The books have been cited hundreds of times by fellow researchers, both nationally and internationally.

His many scholarly articles have similarly been cited thousands of times, many of those in international publications. His blog has received tens of thousands of hits, and his views appear often in national and international news media.

Among his peers, Holbrook is regarded as one of the national leaders in the study of American politics, who tests important research questions with strong quantitative skills and distinctive research strategies.

In her nomination letter, Paru Shah wrote that Holbrook “has contributed seminal works to the literature on presidential elections and campaign effects that stand the test of time in a way that many works do not. He has had a distinguished career of publication in some of the very best, most visible outlets in the discipline.”

Holbrook, who earned his doctorate at the University of Iowa, came to UWM in 1989. He served as the director of the Undergraduate Laboratory for the Empirical Analysis of Politics from 2008 to 2012 and as editor of “American Politics Research” from 1997 to 2003.

John Isbell, professor of geosciences

(UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

Isbell is recognized as one of the leading authorities on the late Paleozoic ice age. His research on sedimentology and stratigraphy focuses on the extent and timing of global glaciation during that period 300 million years ago. He has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation, including several from the Office of Polar Programs, for which he has served as leader of 10 field trips to Antarctica. (Mount Isbell in the Geologists Range in Antarctica was named after him by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names for his work in the area.)

Fellow researchers from Russia to Patagonia wrote in support of his nomination to the distinguished professorship. In her nomination letter, associate professor Margaret Fraiser wrote that Isbell’s work has had “profound implications for understanding ancient and future climate change and its repercussions on ecosystems.”

His 60-plus research seasons have taken him to five continents, including fieldwork in Argentina, Brazil, Russia, South America and several states in the U.S.

Isbell received his doctorate in geology from Ohio State University in 1990 and joined the UWM faculty in 1992. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a presidential fellow at Ohio State.

Christine Kovach, professor of nursing

(Photo courtesy of Ovation Communities)

Kovach, director of research at the Jewish Home and Care Center of Milwaukee and a center scientist in UWM’s Center for Aging and Translational Research, is an internationally recognized expert in gerontological nursing and quantitative research methods.

Kovach’s research has fundamentally changed the science of gerontological nursing through the creation of interventions to improve treatments for people with dementia. Among her major accomplishments is the development of serial trial interventions, now internationally recognized as a best practice for managing pain and agitation experienced by people with dementia who are unable to verbalize their unmet needs.

In transmitting the College of Nursing executive committee’s recommendation, Associate Professor Jennifer Doering wrote, “All of the external reviewers spoke of Dr. Kovach as a consummate scholar well known and respected internationally for a program of research that has advanced the science of gerontological nursing.”

Kovach earned her doctorate from the University of Rochester in 1990 and joined the UWM nursing faculty in 2001. Kovach was named editor for the journal Research in Gerontological Nursing in 2011, and serves as an editorial board member for the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. She is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Mark McBride, professor of biological science

(UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

McBride is a microbiologist who studies bacteria that move via gliding motility, rather than with tail-like flagella. His lab has developed techniques that allow the identification of the genes responsible for the “motor” that moves the bacteria. The work has led to seminal discoveries on bacterial mechanisms, and his research techniques have attracted researchers from around the world to UWM. He is recognized as a world leader in studies of two diverse bacterial families, Flavobacteriaceae and Cytophagaceae. His publications have been cited by others nearly 3,000 times.

David Heathcote, chair of the department of biological sciences, said that among letters of support for the nomination, four came from members of the National Academy of Sciences and one from a Fellow of the Royal Society. Heathcote noted that McBride “has also made extensive and meaningful service contributions to the department, university and his profession.”

McBride is the first recipient of the Shaw Scientist Award for promising new science faculty (in 1995) to achieve distinguished professor status.

McBride received his doctorate in bacteriology from UW-Madison in 1987 and joined the UWM faculty in 1992. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Bacteriology and Archives of Microbiology, has served on National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation review panels, and has been chair of the General Microbiology Division of the American Society of Microbiology.

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