Eight promising young UW-Madison faculty have been honored with Romnes Faculty Fellowships.
The Romnes awards recognize exceptional faculty members who have earned tenure within the last four years. Selected by a Graduate School committee, winners receive an unrestricted $50,000 award for research, supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).
The award is named for the late H. I. Romnes, former chairman of the board of AT&T and former president of the WARF board of trustees.
This year’s awardees are:
Lawrence Berger, associate professor of social work, studies the way socioeconomic factors (family structure and composition, economic resources) and public policies influence parental behaviors and child and family wellbeing. His recent research addresses factors such as family complexity, consumer debt, and housing stability in relation to individual and family functioning, parenting, and child development.
Song Jin, associate professor of chemistry, has developed new methods of synthesis of nanomaterials and discovered screw dislocation-driven growth of nanomaterials. Building on their new physical properties, he has advanced the exploitation of nanomaterials in solar and thermoelectric energy conversion, batteries, and spintronics.
Patricia Keely, professor of cell and regenerative biology, focuses on how cellular interactions with the extracellular matrix are altered during carcinogenesis, to result in invasive, metastatic carcinoma. She leads the Tumor Microenvironment Program at the Carbone Cancer Center, and serves as director of the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Program.
Marisa Otegui, associate professor of botany, works on the way cells control the flow of proteins between different cellular compartments and the regulatory effects of these cellular tracking events on plant development. She has developed different microscopy imaging approaches to visualize protein and membranes in plant cells at high three-dimensional resolution, and serves on the oversight committees of several imaging facilities on campus.
Paul Sacaridiz, associate professor of ceramics, is a sculptor who has shown his work widely, with recent projects commissioned by the Denver Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A frequent lecturer on the field of contemporary ceramics, he was recently nominated for a grant from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and serves on the board of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Eric Shusta, professor of chemical and biological engineering, researches drug delivery to the brain and the development of molecular, cellular and protein engineering tools that can help gain a better understanding of blood-brain barrier function. His work has drawn an NSF Career Award, the American Chemical Society Biotechnology Division Young Investigator Award, and a College of Engineering Outstanding Instructor Award.
M. Jake Vander Zanden, professor of zoology, explores the factors that degrade freshwater ecosystems, most recently focusing on the role of aquatic invasive species. While the primary emphasis is the study of Wisconsin’s lakes, he has also worked in places such as Mongolia, Iceland, and Mexico. He maintains an active outreach program, and teaches the popular Limnology and Ecology of Fishes courses.
Susan Webb Yackee, associate professor of political science, studies public policy and government regulation. Her work has been published broadly in the top journals in her field, including the Journal of Politics and Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. She currently serves as the associate director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs.