Research Excellence Awards 2013

The breadth and depth of discovery at the University of Oregon was highlighted on Tuesday at a ceremony celebrating the 2013 Research Excellence Awards. Honors were handed out to six UO faculty members in history, biology, chemistry, architecture, English and linguistics. The event took place at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

President Michael Gottfredson, in his opening remarks, pointed to the fact that the awardees were nominated by their peers for the awards and noted how pleased he was to be able to recognize faculty for their research.

“What we’re celebrating here tonight, research excellence, characterizes the nature of our university,” Gottfredson said. “The idea that people who are actively engaged at the highest level in creativity and discovery, as well as their instructional activities, is at the core of everything we do."

Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the graduate school, pointed to the variety of specialties represented by the award recipients.

“These outstanding researchers are examining glaciers, vision, nanotechnology, Italian architecture, colonial and early American literature and digital English language learning programs ... what a range,” Espy said. “It really reflects the depth and breadth of scholarship we have here at the UO.”

The awards are handed out by the office for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education. This year’s selections included two Outstanding Research Career Awards – one to Gordon Sayre, professor of English in the College of Arts and Science, and one to James Tice, professor of architecture in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts.

Sayre is a specialist in colonial and early American literature from the 16th through the early 19th centuries with expertise in French colonial history and literature, in the exploration and cartography of North America, in Native American literature and ethnohistory, and in natural history and eco-criticism. Tice’s research focuses on the digital representation of the archeological foundations of Rome and the architecture and urbanism of the city. His other areas of expertise include spatial composition, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Italian Palazzo and Le Corbusier.

The Outstanding Research Career Award is given annually to two tenured faculty of associate or full professor rank. Award recipients will share their outstanding work with campus colleagues by giving the Presidential Research Lecture on campus in the year following the receipt of their award.

Two Early Research Career Awards were also handed out — one to Mark Carey, assistant professor of history, Robert D. Clark Honors College, and one to Cris Niell, assistant professor of biology in the Department of Biology.

Carey specializes in environmental history and the history of science. His research has focused on climate change, natural disasters, glacier-society interactions, mountaineering, water, and health/medicine. Niell studies the function and development of neural circuits for visual processing. He has helped pioneer methods to label synapses in the brain and manipulate individual neurons.

The Early Research Career Awards are presented to tenure-track faculty members at the assistant professor rank.

Tuesday’s ceremony also featured the presentation of two Outstanding Accomplishment Awards — one for a career non-tenure track faculty member engaged in independent research activities to Leslie Opp-Beckman, technology coordinator at the American English Institute, and one for a non-tenure-track faculty member engaged in technical activities in support of research to Jeff Ditto, research technician at the Center for Materials Characterization in Oregon.

Opp-Beckman was recognized for being an exemplary international leader in the field of Computers and Language Learning (CALL) through the development of online programming for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) educators, e-learning and blended learning programs, applied research and publication, grant funding procurement, and the development of online and print materials. Ditto was recognized for providing exceptional and innovative technical support to UO researchers and outside users of the UO’s nanofabrication facility as a laboratory manager and analytical specialist. He is regarded as one of the world’s most skilled operators of the dual beam Focused Ion Beam (FIB), a materials science tool for quantitative analysis housed in the CAMCOR facility.

Each of the awardees recognized at Tuesday’s ceremony will be featured in the 2013 edition of Oregon Research, the annual report published by the office for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education.

In closing, Espy thanked the university community for sending in nominations and spoke to the difficulty of choosing the awardees from such a qualified pool of applicants.

“We congratulate these award recipients, who continue to inspire us with their commitment to research excellence,” she said.