UW-Madison: Nine Receive Named Professorships

MADISON – With research areas ranging from nanotechnology to language acquisition,
from Latin American history to Enlightenment scholars in France and more, nine
University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty members have been awarded named
professorships by the UW Board of Regents. They are:

– Robert H. Blick, professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics,
Lynn H. Matthias Professor in Engineering II.

Since joining the UW-Madison engineering faculty in 2003, Blick has brought
innovative technologies to bear on nano-electromechanical systems, quantum
electronics and bio-electronics. He currently is working on building single-electron
transistors to be used for quantum computing, designing and constructing
three-dimensional nanostructures for mobile communication devices, and applying
nanostructuring techniques to ion channels, the most fundamental unit of information
exchange in living systems.

The five-year Matthias Professorship honors a 1926 UW-Madison graduate in electrical
engineering who developed many seminal product lines for Milwaukee’s Allen Bradley
Co. The dean of the College of Engineering allocates its funds.   

– Franco Cerrina, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Lynn H. Matthias
Professor in Engineering I.

Cerrina, director of the UW-Madison Center for Nanotechnology, works on the
nanofabrification of semiconductor devices, and in their application to genomic
science problems. He leads an interdisciplinary program directed to the de-novo
synthesis of genes and other biomolecules to synthesize DNA on demand.

In 2005 the College of Engineering split the Matthias Professorship into two
separate endowed chairs, now known as the Lynn H. Matthias Professorship I and II in

– Myra Marx Ferree, professor of sociology and women’s studies, Martindale-Bascom
Professor. Ferree, a leading scholar of gender and social movements, currently is
writing a book on German feminism. She also has been analyzing the Web sites of
transnational women’s organizations to see how they incorporate feminism into their
public identities. In addition, she has co-edited (with Aili Tripp, UW-Madison
professor of political science and women’s studies) on global feminism.

Donald Albert Martindale received his bachelor’s (1939), master’s (1940) and his
doctorate (1948) from UW-Madison. He went on to a long and distinguished career as a
sociologist specializing in social psychology, American society, comparative
institutions and more. The Martindale-Bascom Professorship is a five-year
appointment that carries $10,000 annually to be used for research-related expenses.

– Douglas Maynard, professor of sociology, Conway-Bascom Professor. Interested in
the sociology of everyday life and interaction, Maynard is the author of an
important monograph on the delivery and reception of good and bad news. Other
studies have focused on issues in science and technology, cognition in interaction,
disability studies and more. This year he has been named a Fulbright Scholar at the
University of Helsinki.

A memorial to Emma Welsch Conway, this professorship promotes research in sociology.
It carries an annual $10,000 allocation for five years.

– Robert D. Nowak, associate professor electrical and computer engineering,
McFarland-Bascom Professor in Engineering. Nowak is known worldwide for his
contributions to statistical image processing, network tomography (solid object
X-rays), wireless sensor networks and statistical machine learning. His work
addresses the challenge of processing far more data and information than ever before
by focusing on the theoretical foundations of information processing, and by
training the next generation of researchers. He has received young investigator
awards from the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office and the Office of
Naval Research.

The McFarland-Bascom Professorship supports a faculty member in any engineering
department. It comes with a $15,000 allocation annually for five years. 

– Seth Pollak, associate professor of psychology, College of Letters and Science
Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Pollak has been studying how social
experiences affect underlying causes of emotional, learning and behavioral problems
in young children. He frequently consults with Dane County Early Head Start, the
Madison Metropolitan School District, police departments and more to improve
responses to child victims of violent crime. He also aids caseworker training at the
Wisconsin Department of Child Protective Services.

Funds for the College of Letters and Science Distinguished Professorships in
Psychology provide $5,000 annually for five years to promote research in the

– Jenny Saffran, professor of psychology, College of Letters and Science
Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Saffran’s research focuses on how infants
acquire their native language: the kinds of learning abilities required to master
linguistic complexities. To make that inquiry she investigates what kinds of
learning occur in infancy, biases that shape human learning abilities and the
relationship between these biases and language. In 2000 she received a Presidential
Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Clinton at a White
House ceremony.

– Steve J. Stern, professor of history, Alberto Flores Galindo Professor. Stern
studies how ordinary Latin Americans have adapted creatively to adversity and
injustice, thereby reshaping the moral bases and social relationships of their
communities. He has addressed issues including encounters between Spanish and
indigenous peoples during colonial periods, gender and power in rural Mexico, the
“Shining Path” insurgency in Peru and ways in which Chileans deal with traumatic
memories of the Pinochet regime.

Peruvian historian Alberto Flores Galindo studied such subjects as how class and
ethnic relations in colonial Lima, the “Indian Question” in Peru and the history of
utopian thought among native peoples in the Andes. The Galindo Professorship
provides $10,000 annually for five years.    

– Anne Vila, professor of French and Italian, Halverson-Bascom Professor. Currently
investigating why many seminal figures “living the life of the mind” in 18 the
century France often were portrayed not as heroes of the intellect but as social
misfits, with physically peculiarities and worse.

Donald L. Halverson maintained that student residence halls should be an important
part of the university’s educational process. He began his career as a professor of
French, and gained recognition for his effective management of French House. He also
served later as the university’s housing director. His professorship allocates
$15,000 for three years to be used for research-related expenses.