The College of Arts and Sciences recognized 12 new distinguished professors at a reception Oct. 24 in Hyde Hall.
“We are fortunate to have such extraordinary scholars and teachers on our faculty,” said Dean Kevin Guskiewicz, who presented framed certificates to the honorees. “Through your scholarship and creativity, you enhance knowledge, discover new ideas and approaches, and seek solutions to the world’s great challenges.”
The new distinguished professors include:
Chris Clemens, Jaroslav Folda Distinguished Professor, Physics and Astronomy. Clemens is an observational astronomer and scientific instrument builder whose research centers on the astrophysics of stars. He is especially focused on studying white dwarf stars using a technique known as asteroseismology, which he helped invent. He established at UNC the Abraham Goodman laboratory, a world-class facility for astronomical instrumentation.
Robert P. Goldstein, James L. Peacock, III, Distinguished Professor, Biology. Goldstein’s research focuses on mechanisms of cell shape change that drive cells from the surface of an embryo to the interior, a process important to the formation of the brain and spinal cord in humans. This research is expected to revolutionize our understanding of cell and developmental biology.
Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa, Lawrence I. Gilbert Distinguished Professor, Public Policy. Handa’s scholarly specialization is in poverty and human resources in developing countries. He employs economic and related theory and advanced research methods to understand how public policy can address child poverty. He seeks to understand how public policies can influence behavior that improves children’s outcomes.
Paul W. Leslie, Pardue Distinguished Professor, Anthropology. Leslie has combined methods of historical demography with mathematical modeling and computer simulation. Working with multidisciplinary teams in Kenya and Tanzania, he has helped to pioneer ways to assess the health and well-being of contemporary pastoralists and the resilience of the people and societies of Africa’s vast grasslands.
Peter R. Hansen, Henry A. Latane Distinguished Professor, Economics. Hansen conducts research in time-series econometrics, with special attention to forecasting and volatility. His recent work has been published in leading econometrics journals. In 2014, he appeared on Thomson Reuters’ list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.
John P. McGowan, John W. & Anna H. Hanes Distinguished Professor, English and Comparative Literature. In his 24 years at Carolina, McGowan has authored and edited dozens of works on philosophy, political theory and literary studies. He is interested in how writers respond to the social conditions in which they live. He was the first director of The Graduate School’s Royster Society of Fellows and served for eight years as the director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.
L.A. (Laurie) Paul, Eugene G. Falk Distinguished Professor, Philosophy. Paul’s work has stimulated research in fields beyond her native metaphysics, including psychology, sociology, decision theory, theology, religious studies and ethics. She an engaging and provocative speaker, and a public intellectual who has successfully brought the tools of philosophy to bear on issues that matter directly to ordinary people.
Louise Toppin, Kappa Kappa Gamma Distinguished Professor, Music. Toppin has made outstanding contributions to the world of music, particularly through her tireless, decades-long project of bringing the concert music of African-American, female and other underrepresented composers to light and to life. She is also a world-renowned soprano and educator.
Samuel Amago, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor, Romance Studies. Amago is a leading scholar of 20th- and 21st-century Spanish literature and film and has published two books and numerous influential articles in the field. His students roundly praise him for his teaching skills, his innovative course design and his dedication to teaching.
Kathleen DuVal, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor, History. DuVal is the author of several important books on American history and is a widely respected scholar. She teaches her students how to think like historians, demonstrating in the classroom how historians approach the past. Her book, Independence Lost, was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize.
Beth Kurtz-Costes, Zachary Taylor Smith Distinguished Term Professor in Research and Undergraduate Education, Psychology and Neuroscience. Kurtz-Costes’ research focuses on the development of children’s motivational beliefs and family and cultural influences. Her most recent work involves the examination of parental racial socialization, school race structure and the development of achievement-related beliefs in African-American youth.
Benjamin Mason Meier, Zachary Taylor Smith Distinguished Term Professor in Research and Undergraduate Education, Public Policy. Meier’s work lies at the intersection of public policy, political science, international law and global health. He has written extensively on the history of the World Health Organization’s human rights policies and has advanced the argument that a right to health care is a collective as well as an individual human right.