University honors 10 teachers with distinguished professorships; two from School of Public Health

March 09, 2007
Photograph of Dr. Gerardo Heiss

Photograph of Dr. Gerardo Heiss
Photograph of Dr. Mark Sobsey

Photograph of Dr. Mark Sobsey

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced the latest recipients of its 2007 distinguished professorships, which are among the highest campus-wide recognitions of excellence. Drs. Gerardo Heiss and Mark Sobsey from the School of Public Health are two of the recipients.

Ten honorees were chosen from 26 nominations to the Distinguished Chairs Selection Committee, based in the Office of the Provost, and were approved by Chancellor James Moeser and the Board of Trustees. They will be honored at an April 16 event on campus.

Honorees come from the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of law, medicine and public health. All received distinguished professorships bearing the names of Burton Craige, Cary C. Boshamer or the Kenan family.

The William R. Kenan Jr. Professorships were established in 1965. These professorships were originally endowed at $5 million through a bequest from William R. Kenan Jr., who received a bachelor of science degree from the university in 1872.

Dr. Albert Baldwin, a professor in the biology department, received the William R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professorship. Associate director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baldwin is a faculty member in the Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology. He came to Carolina in 1989.

Created in 1917 through the bequest of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham, the Kenan Professorships, which are separate from the William R. Kenan Jr. awards, were among the university’s earliest endowments. She created these professorships in honor of her father and uncle, Thomas S. Kenan and James Graham Kenan. Her bequest was one of the largest gifts made to a state university at the time.

Recipients of the Kenan Professorships are: Drs. Barbara Entwisle of the sociology department, Roberto Camassa of the mathematics department, Gerardo Heiss and Mark Sobsey of the School of Public Health, and Yee Jack Ng of the physics department.

Entwisle is director of and a fellow at the Carolina Population Center. She is professor of sociology, adjunct professor of geography and a faculty member in the Curriculum in Ecology. Her research examines the extent to which social contexts influence individual behavior and attitudes. She joined the university in 1994.

Camassa is a professor in the mathematics department. His research explores the behavior of fluids ranging from ocean waves to how fluid is transported in human lungs. He was a joint recipient of a $1.7 million research training grant from the National Science Foundation in 2005. He came to Carolina in 1997.

Heiss is a professor in the School of Public Health’s epidemiology department. He has published more than 260 peer-reviewed papers, many of them focused on the complexities of cardiovascular disease and stroke. He has researched the factors responsible for heart disease and stroke such as socioeconomic status, race, alcohol and tobacco use, and physical activity. He has been at Carolina since 1974.

Sobsey is professor of environmental microbiology in the School of Public Health and holds an adjunct appointment in the Curriculum in Marine Studies. His area of expertise is public health microbiology. He is an expert on water and food supply pathogens and has made contributions to the science of removal of infectious agents from drinking water. He first came to Carolina in 1974 and has been in the department of environmental science and engineering since 1984.

Ng is a professor in the physics department. An advisor for undergraduate physics majors, he teaches the department’s core course in electricity and magnetism for upper-division physics majors. Ng researches theory of elementary particles, quantum field theory, gravity and cosmology, and he has published more than 100 research articles. He came to Carolina in 1987.

The Cary C. Boshamer Professorships were established in 1969 by Cary Carlisle Boshamer, a member of the class of 1917. In addition to endowing professorships, Boshamer financed the Cary C. Boshamer Scholarships and contributed substantially to the university’s athletic program by providing funds for scholarships, an artificial turf practice field and the baseball stadium that bears his name.

Drs. Rudy Juliano of the School of Medicine and Mark Bonds of the music department received Cary C. Boshamer professorships.

Juliano is a professor in the pharmacology department and chairman of Carolina’s Roadmap Committee, which facilitates interaction between campus researchers and the National Institutes of Health’s “Roadmap for Medical Research” initiatives, designed to transform the nation’s medical research capabilities and speed the movement of research discoveries. Juliano was professor and chairman in the department from 1986-2002.

Bonds is an associate professor in the music department. His scholarship examines 19th-century instrumental music and has resulted in three influential books in the field: “Wordless Rhetoric” (1991), “After Beethoven” (1996) and “A History of Music in Western Culture” (2003), which has been widely adopted at American and Canadian universities. He came to Carolina in 1992.

The Burton Craige Professorships in Jurisprudence were established in 1941 by the late Burton Craige of Salisbury and Winston-Salem. An attorney, historian, author and philanthropist, Craige made the gift in memory of his father, Kerr Craige (bachelor of arts 1863) and his grandfather Burton Craige (bachelor of arts 1829, master’s 1847).

Drs. Pamela Conover of the political science department and Judith Wegner of the School of Law received Burton Craige professorships.

Conover is a professor in the political science department and has co-written 35 journal articles and 12 book chapters. Her teaching interests include political psychology, the politics of sexuality, political communication, democratic theory, women in politics and American government. She has been chairwoman of three university committees on campus life and learning. Conover joined the university in 1984.

Wegner is a professor in the School of Law. She was dean of the school from 1989 to 1999, after serving for eight years as a member of the faculty and for two years as associate dean. She recently completed a research leave as Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and has been principal investigator on the Foundation’s major study on legal education, part of its “Program on Preparation for the Professions.” Wegner was president of the Association of American Law Schools in 1995. Her teaching activities include law courses, city and regional planning and a “Difficult Dialogues” discussion initiative, for which she led efforts to secure a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in 2005. She came to Carolina in 1981.

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UNC contact: Mike McFarland, (919) 962-8593, mike_mcfarland@unc.edu.

School of Public Health contact: Ramona Dubose, (919) 966-7467, ramona_dubose@unc.edu.