Provost Chaouki Abdallah and Health Sciences Center Chancellor Paul Roth recently announced the promotion of six UNM faculty to the rank of Distinguished Professor. They include: Scott Collins, Martin Kirk, Sharon Erickson Nepstad, David Whitten, José Cañive and Robert Williams.
The rank of Distinguished Professor is the highest faculty title that UNM bestows. It is awarded to those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievements, and are nationally and internationally renowned as scholars may be considered for this faculty rank.
2016 Distinguished Professors
Biology’s Scott Collins has become one of the world’s foremost authorities on the community ecology of grasslands. His careful and path-breaking experimental field work, especially at the Konza Prairie and Sevilleta Long-term Ecological Reserve sites, has shown how environmental variability and climate change affect grassland ecosystems.
At the NSF and at UNM, Collins has been an intellectual leader of efforts to strengthen ecological research throughout the United States. He has published more than 170 journal articles and his work has been cited more than 16,000 times. Since 2004, he has served as the PI or co-PI on nearly $18 million in grants.
Chemistry’s Martin Kirk is a national leader in the study of metallobiochemistry, molecular electronics and magnetochemistry. He is especially known for his study of molybdenum-based enzyme catalysis and donor accepted bi-radicals. His research shows how complex chemical processes involving metallic substances affect life on this planet in unexpected ways.
Kirk’s work is especially known for the wide range of techniques he uses to examine these processes, with equal emphasis on detailed spectroscopic and computational bioinformatics approaches. He has published more than 120 journal articles and his work has been cited more than 3,500 times. He has served as the PI or Co-PI on more than $5 million in grants since 2005.
Sharon Erickson Nepstad, Sociology, is a world renowned authority on the intersection of religion, social movements and non-violent responses to conflict. Erickson Nepstad is author of four books published with Oxford and Cambridge University Presses. Two have received outstanding book awards from the Peace, War, and Conflict section of the American Sociological Association. NYU Press will publish a fifth major book in 2017.
In addition to this extraordinary record of excellence in publishing books, Erickson Nepstad has also published in Mobilization and Social Problems, two of the top journals in Sociology, among her 20 journal articles.
David Whitten, Chemical and Biological Engineering, is associate director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at UNM. His research areas of current interest are spectroscopy, molecular assemblies, diagnostics, interfaces, conjugated polymers and antimicrobials.
Motivated by a desire to find a better method for disinfection, Whitten and his students and collaborators have developed novel antimicrobial polymers and oligomers(smaller and simpler versions of the polymers), conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs) that have unique properties as antimicrobials, killing bacteria, viruses, fungi and biofilms in dark and light-activated processes. In 2010 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.
José Cañive, in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, NM VA Health Care System, is pursuing psychopathology research with a unique combination of research methods and technologies, the most promising being magnetoencephalography (MEG). His continued research on the cortical basis of the schizophrenia sensory gating deficit is at the cutting edge of clinical neuroscience. Innovative aspects of his research have received national recognition and numerous funding proposals from the Mental Illness and Neuroscience Discovery Institute (MIND), the National Institutes of Health, and the VA Merit Review Program, producing 21 scientific articles on the subject and published in peer-reviewed journals.
In addition to this groundbreaking work in biological psychiatry, Cañive has contributed to the understanding of psychosocial factors in schizophrenia and to consideration of ethnic factors in psychopathology. He has provided extensive mentorship to many junior investigators and has lectured widely on the neurobiological aspects and treatment of schizophrenia and PTSD.
Cañive has received numerous awards from a variety of organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Exemplary Psychiatrist Award, the Best Mentor/Teacher Award from the New Mexico VA Health Care System for three consecutive years, The University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry Milton Rosenbaum Award for Competence, Curiosity, Generativity and Generosity. He also obtained the Simon Bolivar Award from the American Psychiatric Association, and the Earl Walker Award for Outstanding Achievement in Neuroscience Research.
Robert Williams, professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, has focused his career on the improvement of health and health care for medically underserved communities, both domestically and internationally. He has provided leadership and innovation in delivering clinical care with the Indian Health Service in Crownpoint, N.M., (where he was selected as National Indian Health Service Clinician of the Year), in inner city Cleveland at a community health center, as a United Nations/Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa, and in a peri-urban township area in South Africa prior to his appointment at UNM.
His research targets health equity, primary care in underserved communities, social determinants of health, and the intersection between primary care and public health. He developed the innovative and nationally recognized NM practice-based research network, RIOS Net, built a national consortium of similar networks, PRIME Net, is the founding director of UNM’s New Mexico Center for Advancement of Research, Engagement, & Science on Health Disparities, and is currently Associate Director of UNM’s CDC Prevention Research Center.
He has received a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar Award and was ranked first nationally of all Family Physicians in total NIH funding for 2011-2014. He is Associate Editor of Annals of Family Medicine, the world’s leading primary care research journal.