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Ten faculty members named University Scholars

Jeff Unger, News Bureau director
(217) 333-1085;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Ten faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been chosen to be the 2000-2001 University Scholars.

The program recognizes excellence while helping to identify and retain the university's most talented teachers, scholars and researchers.

Now in its 16th year, the program provides $10,000 to each scholar to use to enhance his or her academic career. The money may be used for travel, equipment, research assistants, books or other purposes. Seven scholars were recognized at the Chicago campus and one at Springfield.

"The University Scholars Program is the premier recognition accorded to faculty at the University of Illinois by their colleagues," said Chet Gardner, acting vice president for academic affairs for the university. "In honoring these outstanding members of the faculty, selected by their peers, we recognize at the same time the highest values of the university."

Since the program began in 1985, 363 scholars have been named and about $8.5 million has been awarded to support their teaching and research. Funding for the program comes from private gifts to the UI Foundation's Advancement Fund.

A dinner honoring the scholars will take place Monday night (Nov. 27) at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

The Urbana scholars, their departments and a summary of their expertise:

Ulf Bockenholt, psychology: Since coming to Illinois in 1985, Bockenholt has established himself as one of the most productive and original quantitative psychologists, and he is widely recognized as a rising star and one of the leaders in this field.

Last year, Bockenholt was appointed editor of Psychometrika, the oldest and most prestigious journal in quantitative psychology. The goal of Bockenholt's theoretical and empirical work is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of choice behavior as well as the cognitive and emotional mechanisms that underlie it.

David G. Cahill, materials science and engineering: During his nine years at Illinois, Cahill has developed an international reputation in the area of surface morphological evolution in semiconductors using scanning tunneling microscopy to quantitatively follow surface roughening and smoothening processes during both molecular-bean epitaxy film growth and ion etching. Cahill currently is expanding his research to include hard wear-resistant coatings.

Susan Fahrbach, entomology: Fahrbach and her colleagues have succeeded in identifying neural as well as hormonal inputs regulating the fate of neurons in adult moths and in addition have characterized the intercellular signals initiating the degeneration of neurons. She has accomplished these research objectives by devising innovative experimental approaches and developing novel tools to allow her to pursue her studies, including an in vitro system that accurately reproduces the selectivity and temporal patterning of neuronal death in vivo. Earlier this year, she collaborated with Gene Robinson, entomology, in a project that employed harmonic radar techniques to characterize the ontogeny of spatial learning in honeybees. Their work was published in Nature and received worldwide media attention.

Marcelo Garcia, civil and environmental engineering: Within a decade after receiving his doctorate in 1989, Garcia has become one of two leading persons in the nation and one of four in the world among all active researchers in the field of river mechanics and sediment engineering. He is the lead author preparing the new version of the Sedimentation Engineering Manual of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Garcia is best known for his research in the areas of sediment entrainment from riverbeds and mechanics of turbidity currents.

Garcia proposed the first theoretical model for depositional turbidity currents with mixed grain size, thus shedding new light on the physical processes of the flow.

Elizabeth (Betsy) G. Hearne, library and information science: Hearne's central concern is children's literature - its impact on the reader and listener, its critical value and its creation as creative writing. She is an internationally acclaimed children's author, a literary critic and an original contributor to the field of folklore. Just as anthropologists have struggled with the ownership of religious artifacts and the meaning of cultural property, Hearne is opening up these questions to the world of children's literary criticism. She presents a sophisticated and compelling analysis of the conditions under which stories of, for example, native peoples are appropriated and where authorship is erased. Her 1997 book, "Seven Brave Women," won a number of important awards and was called "splendid" by the New York Times, which chose it among the notable books of that year.

David Hertzog, physics: Hertzog is an experimental nuclear physicist whose research probes the fundamental nature of matter at very small distance scales. His primary research contribution has been his remarkably creative work on the pieces of the Standard Model of particle physics, where he has made a name for himself as an innovator and a leader. He has led research in a broadly based array of experiments, including the atomic physics associated with exotic atoms, the interactions of antimatter with matter to produce strange matter (hyperons and anti-hyperons), the fundamental symmetries in T and CP invariance, the search for exotic particles, and high-precision tests of electroweak physics.

Sergei Ivanov, mathematics: Ivanov's work has been supported as a Principal Investigator by the National Science Foundation since 1995, a major sign of national recognition of his work. He is an expert in the theory of groups, particularly in the theory of infinite groups.

Ivanov was inspired by his adviser at Moscow State University to attack one of the most difficult problems in infinite group theory, the structure of periodic groups. He was invited to address the International congress of Mathematicians in Berlin in 1998, a singularly high honor for any mathematician.

Nancy Ambrose King, music: The winner of the 1995 New York International Competition for Solo Oboists, King has performed with the Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Heidelberg Opera Orchestra. In 1999, a recording of her performing was released by Boston Records and received an excellent review in the American Record Guide. She is working on another compact disc, which will consist of oboe concertos that will represent a major addition to the oboists' discography. She appears regularly in summer festivals throughout the United States, and offers master classes and clinics regionally and nationally.

Mark D. Steinberg, history: Steinberg has produced a remarkable quantity of excellent research, including the most popular current edited volume on the lives and deaths of the Romanovs; an edited volume of essays that has become a standard in graduate seminars in Russian history; a popular edition of Maxim Gorky's writings; and numerous book and journal articles. His publications, his international projects and his election to the St. Petersburg Academy for the Humanities are evidence of his worldwide reputation.

Arlette Willis, curriculum and instruction: A leading scholar in the areas of literacy acquisition and development, and educational history, Willis has opened new areas of inquiry through the conceptual and theoretical ideas she advances. Willis focuses on the philosophical and cultural factors that shape literacy research and curricula. Her book, "Hemlock in the Furrows: A Critical History of Reading Comprehension Test Development," is a critical analysis of the work of seminal thinkers in the areas of cognition, literacy and testing. She has re-examined the roles of Edmund Huey, Edward Thorndike, William S. Gray and other thinkers from the perspective of critical theory.