University of New Mexico Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway and Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth recently announced the promotion of seven UNM faculty to the rank of Distinguished Professor.
The rank of Distinguished Professor is the highest title that UNM bestows upon its faculty. It is awarded to those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievements, and are nationally and internationally renowned as scholars.
On main campus, the honorees include three from the College of Arts & Sciences, Yemane Asmerom, Terry Loring and Sherman Wilcox, one from the School of Architecture & Planning, Claudia Isaac, and three from the Health Sciences Center, Arup Das, Eve Espey and Mauricio Tohen.
“This year's new distinguished professors are an amazingly impactful group, whose scholarship spans the full breadth of UNM, from poverty alleviation through community engagement to the beauty of C*-algebras. These four colleagues have impacted their fields of study, and changed the world through discovery and action.”
“I’m so proud of the work our faculty are doing to support, encourage and uplift students and their peers," said Executive Vice President and Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Paul Roth. "Health Sciences has always focused on quality mentorship and guidance from our faculty and these recipients embody those values. I want to congratulate Dr. Espey, Dr. Tohen and Dr. Das on this well-deserved recognition.”
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Yemane Asmerom came to UNM 27 years ago with the vision to build a world-class radiogenic isotope laboratory for applications and techniques that help to address a wide range of issues related to climate change and its impact on civilizations, especially in the southwestern United States and Mesoamerica. Asmerom’s isotopic techniques include uranium-series isotopes and other long-lived isotopic systems, providing the ability to determine time from decades to billions of years.
Asmerom’s strong international reputation has resulted in numerous collaborations worldwide leading to research efforts that address a wide range of topics from climate change on earth at various timescales to exploring the evolution of the solar system that has provided new insights and answers to decades-old scientific research. Recent research includes an international team that reported sea level as high as 16 meters during a period of Earth’s history when CO2 in the atmosphere was at current levels; and research involving isotopic data from Belize and others in the Neotropics involving the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), which corresponding to the rainfall belt of the tropics, will shrink as the Earth warms, leading to increased aridity in places such as Central American countries and southern Brazil.
Additionally, Asmerom is a Fellow of the Geochemical Society & European Geochemical Society (2016) and the Geological Society of America (2015).
Dr. Claudia Isaac conducts community-engaged scholarship and practice that focuses on community-driven practice, particularly concerning community education, local organization development, and scholarly civic engagement. She conducts layperson training and participatory evaluation and directs community-based participatory research in the areas of community economic development and poverty alleviation, food systems planning, affordable housing, neighborhood planning, and land use, metropolitan redevelopment, and community capacity building.
Isaac, who has taught at UNM for more than 30 years, works with government, nonprofit and educational organizations to help disenfranchised people to produce community-driven plans, evaluations, and policies. In May 2017, Isaac was the recipient of UNM’s 2nd Annual Community Engaged Research Lecture Award, one of the highest honors the University bestows on its faculty members in recognition of research/creative activity of exceptional merit, for her community engagement efforts.
Dr. Terry Loring, professor of Mathematics and Statistics, is completing his 30th year as a faculty member at UNM. His research in C*-algebras and K-theory, with major advances in applications to critical problems in Physics, has been published in Pure Mathematics journals and top journals in Physics. Loring was recently named a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.
A pure mathematician or a better term says Loring is a theoretical mathematician, one who neither seeks nor runs from applications, his luck was good enough that the purely theoretical work he completed as a graduate student found an application decades later – while he was still alive. In that time computers advanced so that calculations he once performed on size 12 matrices, can now be done on size 12 million matrices. Following specific problems, he has been led to wander around pure math, high-performance computing, and condensed matter physics.
Dr. Sherman Wilcox has been a Professor of Linguistics at UNM since earning his Ph.D. at UNM in 1988. He has built a strong international reputation for his contributions to Cognitive Linguistics and the Linguistics of Sign Languages and is one of few scholars who has been able to demonstrate expertise in the study of sign languages from many nations, not just American Sign Language. As a senior scholar in the field of linguistics, Wilcox has focused on synergistic activities that bring to UNM early career linguists, who have limited opportunities to advance their knowledge of signed language linguistics from around the world, to enhance their ability to study the signed languages of their home countries.
Wilcox has dedicated his career to the scientific study of the world’s signed languages studying the grammatical structure of signed languages, with the goal of better understanding the interaction of language, whether spoken or signed, cognition, and the human mind. He has worked on research projects that study American Sign Language, Argentine Sign Language, Brazilian Sign Language, Catalan Sign Language, Chinese Sign Language, Iranian Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, Saudi Sign Language, and others. He helped to establish a B.S. Degree in Signed Language Interpreting in the early 1980s preparing professional signed language interpreters to serve the Deaf community in New Mexico and across the nation. Many of the interpreters that are seen on television now during the COVID–19 pandemic are graduates of the interpreting program. Wilcox is currently an Associate Editor of the journal Cognitive Linguistics and was recently named the President of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association, a reflection of his international stature in his discipline.
Health Sciences Center honorees
Dr. Arup Das is a Regents' Professor of Ophthalmology at UNM’s School of Medicine in the Division of Opthalmology, Department of Surgery. Das’ laboratory focus is on the molecular mechanisms that play an important role in the pathogenesis and development of different phenotypes of human diabetic retinopathy. Das' lab studies the complex disease of diabetic retinopathy by combining whole-exome sequencing studies and well harmonized phenotypic analyses of patients and appropriate controls with a goal to identify novel genetic variants and proteins for understanding the genetic mechanisms of diabetic retinopathy, and help in development of novel biomarkers, improved therapeutics and precision medicine
The physician-scientist and Director of the Retina Service is a principal investigator on several clinical trials in diabetic retinopathy and is also actively involved in basic science work in angiogenesis and diabetic retinopathy.
Dr. Eve Espey is the Chairperson of the Department of Ob/Gyn and Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Family Planning, and Family Planning fellowship director at UNM. She is President-Elect of the Society of Family Planning and is the Medical Advisory Committee Chair for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Espey is the Chair of the American College of OB-GYN’s workgroup for Long Acting Reversible Contraception.
Espey has won several teaching awards and has been recognized nationally as a mentor for Medical Students for Choice. She has numerous publications in the area of family planning and medical education and has been involved in international family planning work.
Dr. Mauricio Tohen came to UNM in February 2013 as the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Before coming to UNM, Dr. Tohen was clinical director of the Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders Program at McLean Hospital from 1988-1997. In 1997 he joined Lilly Research Laboratories where he held the senior-most scientific rank of Distinguished Lilly Scholar. In 2009, he joined the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he was the head of the Division of Mood & Anxiety Disorders and the Krus Endowed Tenured Professor in Psychiatry.
Tohen has more than 250 original publications. His honors include a FIRST award from NIMH, the Pope Award from McLean Hospital, a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and in 2011 the Simon Bolivar Award from the American Psychiatric Association for outstanding contribution to education, research and overall achievement in Psychiatry; and leadership in Hispanic Psychiatry.