Bass Chairs Recognized for Excellence in Teaching and Research

Five Duke faculty members have been appointed to endowed chairs as part of the Bass Program for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, which recognizes professors who have achieved distinction both in undergraduate teaching and  scholarly research.

''The Bass Society represents the very best of what higher education offers to students,''said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education. "Exceptional scholars who are committed not only to contributing to our collective body of knowledge, but also to ‘paying it forward’ by teaching and mentoring students. The five faculty members who are joining the society certainly embody this tradition.''

The winners were:

In Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Katherine Franz, Alexander F. Hehmeyer  Associate Professor of Chemistry. Her Research focuses on bioinorganic chemistry, with a particular emphasis on understanding the structural and functional consequences of metal binding in biological systems. Previously, she has received externally by a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award that recognizes excellence in both teaching and research.

Rebecca Stein, Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology. Her scholarship explores the linkages between the cultural and the political in Israel, with particular attention to consumer and popular culture and tourism. She has established herself as a prodigious and prolific scholar, having published the acclaimed Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism, as well as numerous scholarly book chapters and articles.

In the Edmund T. Pratt Jr. School of Engineering

Heileen Hsu-Kim, Mary Milus Yoh & Harold L. Yoh Jr. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Her main research interest is water chemistry, with emphasis on the mobility, transformation, and bioavailability of metals. She has built a world-class research program here at Duke in water chemistry, helping to expand the body of knowledge surrounding the impact of mercury and other metals in fish and the food chain.

Amilcare Porporato, Addy Family Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Porporato is a leading expert in the field of Ecohydrology, the interactions between water and ecosystems, and his work is fundamentally interdisciplinary in nature. His research is known for being rigorous, wide-ranging and cutting-edge, and many credit him as the originator of the field of Ecohydrology.

In the Nicholas School of the Environment

Erika Weinthal, Lee Hill Snowdon Professor of Environmental Policy. Weinthal specializes in environmental policy, international environmental cooperation and conflict, and environmental security. She has also developed innovative interdisciplinary projects with the Franklin Humanities Institute such as ''Mapping the World’s Refugees and Displaced Persons'' and a project focusing on environmental human rights.

The chairs were created in 1996 when Anne T. and Robert Bass gave $10 million as a matching gift to encourage Duke alumni, parents and friends to fully endow the positions. Candidates are nominated by faculty and evaluated by a faculty committee. Bass Professors hold the chairs for five-year terms and then become lifetime members of the Bass Society of Fellows.

Nowicki, who is also a Bass Fellow, said that raising the visibility of the Bass Society among undergraduate students and faculty will continue to be a top priority in the upcoming year. Previous efforts have included the ''Re-imagining the Academy'' lecture series co-sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Center for Instructional Technology, the ''Bass Conversations'' lunch series on instructional innovation, and a series of two-minute video interviews in which selected members of the Bass Society discuss the approach to teaching and research.

Also, Andrew Janiak, Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Philosophy, has been selected by his peers in the Bass Society to become the new faculty chair. He will succeed Craig Henriquez, the James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Professor of Biomedical Engineering, who has held the position for two years.

''The Bass Society stands for the proposition that outstanding scholarship and first-rate teaching can be mutually informative and illuminating,'' Janiak said. ''I'm delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Bass Fellows to build on Craig’s past efforts and to give the Society an even more prominent role in campus conversations about cutting edge research and novel pedagogy.''