IU Bloomington names Sonneborn Award recipient, Provost Professors

  • May 16, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Susan H. Williams, the Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law in the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, will receive the 2014 Tracy M. Sonneborn Award, which honors an Indiana University faculty member for outstanding research and teaching.

IU Bloomington also has named three Provost Professors: Bogdan Dragnea, professor in the Department of Chemistry; Barbara Klinger, professor in the Department of Communication and Culture; and Peter Todd, professor in the Cognitive Science Program and Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The three Provost Professors are in the College of Arts and Sciences.

As recipient of the Sonneborn Award, Williams will give the annual Sonneborn Lecture during the fall 2014 semester at a time and location to be announced. The award and lecture are named for the late IU biologist Tracy M. Sonneborn, a renowned geneticist who was also highly regarded for his teaching.

"Susan Williams is truly deserving of the Sonneborn Award," said Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. "She is widely recognized for her path-breaking scholarship on constitutional theory, and she is an inspiring teacher who brings out the best in her students. Her fearless work in constitutional design has helped empower marginalized populations in some of the world's most troubled regions."

Faculty who are designated Provost Professors have achieved local, national and international distinction in both teaching and research. The position was created in 1995 and was originally called Chancellor's Professor. The name changed in 2009.

"Professors Dragnea, Klinger and Todd have combined highly original research and scholarship with outstanding teaching of both graduate students and undergraduates," Robel said. "I am delighted to recognize their dedicated efforts to advance the university, its students and their faculty colleagues."

"These faculty members exemplify the outstanding teaching, research and scholarship that make Indiana University Bloomington a truly special place," added Thomas Gieryn, IU Bloomington vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. "It's a great pleasure to recognize their achievements, which demonstrate that pioneering research goes hand-in-hand with inspirational teaching."

Susan Williams

A leading scholar of constitutional theory and feminist jurisprudence, Williams has turned her interests in gender equality and individual rights to the design of constitutions in emerging democracies. As director of the Center for Constitutional Democracy, she advises groups that promote democracy in areas marked by social divisions, such as ethnicity, religion and language. She has worked with ethnic minority groups in Burma, the governments of Liberia and South Sudan, and civil society groups in Northern Africa and Vietnam to educate reformers about constitutionalism and to design constitutions that fit the needs of each country and promote democracy.

Her most recent book, "Social Difference and Constitutionalism in Pan Asia," (Cambridge University Press 2013) brings together distinguished scholars to address the challenges of difference and constitutionalism from a range of disciplines; her own contribution offers a theoretical framework for constitutional design. Along with her many articles, she is also the author of "Truth, Autonomy, and Speech: Feminist Theory and the First Amendment" and the editor of "Constituting Equality: Gender Equality and Comparative Constitutional Law."

Williams is known as one of the most challenging and effective teachers in the law school; she teaches a first-year course on property law and upper-level courses on feminist jurisprudence, the First Amendment, and constitutional design.

Bogdan Dragnea

Dragnea is a leading researcher in physical virology whose work has helped place IU Bloomington at the forefront of the field. Part of the physical chemistry group in the Department of Chemistry, he conducts research on the assembly, disassembly and intracellular tracking of viruses in living cells.

He was among the first researchers to recognize that protein self-assembly used in nature to create virus particles could be exploited to create nanoparticle "cages" with well-defined structures and novel physical properties. He more recently developed a new research direction seeking to understand the assembly of immature HIV-1 particles; the research explores early events of HIV-1 budding and assembly, with the long-term goal of developing ways to inhibit growth of the virus.

Dragnea is a campus leader in the development of nanoscience and contributed to National Science Foundation grants that enabled the chemistry department to acquire key research instrumentation. He coordinated the department's newly established materials chemistry subdiscipline from 2005-11, overseeing tremendous faculty growth in the area and taking responsibility for development and implementing a new graduate curriculum.

Barbara Klinger

A leading scholar who has pushed the boundaries of film studies, Klinger has given many invited lectures, including keynote addresses at prominent conferences, and her writings have been translated into Polish and Czech. She has published in top-tier journals and twice won the Society for Cinema Studies' Katherine Singer Kovacs Best Essay Award, its highest honor for a journal article. In 2011, she was elected President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the field's national organization.

Her book "Melodrama and Meaning: History, Culture, and the Films of Douglas Sirk" established Klinger as an expert in the study of reception, which explores the role of audiences in constructing the meaning of films. "Beyond the Multiplex: Cinema, New Technologies, and the Home" was the first book to explore in detail and with theoretical sophistication the implications for film reception of new technologies that have changed the way audiences enjoy film. Her forthcoming "Cinema and Immortality: Hollywood Classics in a Transmediated World" focuses on how classic films have survived through their interactions with new media and circulation venues.

A committed teacher, Klinger has directed 20 dissertations, with six more in progress, and served on an additional 44 doctoral research committees. Students remark on the rigor of her course syllabi and her level of preparation, encyclopedic knowledge of film theory and history, thorough lectures, extensive feedback and enthusiasm for the topics.

Peter Todd

Todd's research deals with heuristics, simple rules for making decisions in a wide range of contexts from choosing dinner to searching for parking. He explores cognitive mechanisms used to generate adaptive behavior, how such mechanisms evolve, and the ways in which evolution, cognition and other adaptive processes can interact.

His book "Simple Heuristics that Make Us Smart," co-authored with Gerd Gigerenzer of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, has been cited thousands of times. Its 2012 sequel, "Ecological Rationality," is already widely cited. Todd has published on topics as varied as musical cognition, food choice, human mate choice, the evolution of parental behavior, artificial neural networks and artificial life.

A highly regarded teacher of both large undergraduate lecture courses and graduate seminars, he is director of graduate studies for the Cognitive Science Program and is part of the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior, the Food Studies Program, and the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. He co-authored winning proposals for College of Arts and Sciences Themesters on "Good Behavior, Bad Behavior" in 2012 and "Eat, Drink, Think: Food from Art to Science" in 2014.

Provost Professors receive an annual award of $2,500 for three years and a $5,000 grant for a project that demonstrates how teaching and research are mutually reinforcing. The Sonneborn Award carries a $3,500 cash award and a $1,000 grant to support research or creative activity. A reception to honor the four faculty members will be scheduled in the fall 2014 semester.

Past winners of the Sonneborn Award and faculty members who have been designated Provost Professors can be seen at the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs website.

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Susan H. Williams

Susan H. Williams

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Bogdan Dragnea

Bogdan Dragnea

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Barbara Klinger

Barbara Klinger

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