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Fellowships help faculty change direction

“Research questions change,” says Anne Meltzer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “as new discoveries take place and new insights emerge.”

Recognizing that disciplines and research programs evolve during a faculty member’s career, the College of Arts and Sciences has awarded New Directions Fellowships for Mid-Career Faculty to four professors.

The awards, available for full professors and for associate professors nearing promotion, provide $10,000 a year for two years to support scholars who would like to pursue new directions in their research.

“We’re pleased to be able to award these fellowships,” says Anne Meltzer, the Herbert and Ann Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Over time, research questions change as new discoveries take place and new insights emerge. It can be quite difficult to move in a new direction without developing additional expertise or experience.”

This year’s recipients are:

Lynne Cassimeris, professor of biological sciences, has spent nearly 30 years studying the cell’s internal skeleton, a series of protein polymers that are continually assembled and reorganized. Several research labs, including the Cassimeris group, have recently discovered that a regulator of when and where these polymers assemble is also required for cancer cells to survive. Cassimeris plans to move from studying polymer assembly to studying how these polymers can stimulate cancer cells to kill themselves.

“The New Directions Fellowship is an amazing opportunity to shift my research focus and stimulate my group to think about different questions and new approaches,” says Cassimeris.

Connie Cook, professor of Chinese in the department of modern Languages and literature, specializes in paleographic texts of BC-era China. She will use the fellowship to study newly discovered texts written on bamboo strips, which are reforming scholars’ basic understanding of the founding of Chinese civilization.

Cook plans a long-term research project that will integrate a deeper understanding of the material and social contexts for the production and dissemination of these new texts with a close reading and translation of key texts. The project will build on her current work as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Beijing.

Don Morris, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, has been quantifying and characterizing carbon transport from watersheds for the last few years. He will take a new direction by using organic carbon age as an index of organic carbon mobilization and terrestrial watersheds.

The research is designed to better understand why organic carbon is mobilized from small watershed-scale landscapes. Morris’ research has important implications for understanding the important role of human activities on global carbon cycling and climate change.

Gordon Moskowitz, associate professor of psychology, studies the unconscious nature of thinking as it relates to people, with an emphasis on stereotyping. He also examines how the pursuit of goals is facilitated by unconscious processes. He will combine these interests to examine how people can control stereotyping, or pursue the goal of being unbiased.

The fellowship will allow Moskowitz to apply theories of unconscious stereotyping and stereotype control to medical professionals. He plans to illustrate that health disparities often found in minority populations (differences in diagnosis and treatment of disease) can be partly traced to unconscious (and undesired) stereotyping in doctors and nurses. He will examine new ways to reduce stereotyping among medical professionals through psychological interventions that draw on advancements in understanding unconscious stereotyping.

The College of Arts and Sciences will award two New Directions Fellowships annually so that in any given year, four faculty members will be supported.


Photo by Douglas Benedict

Story by Tricia Long

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2011

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