Wisconsin Academy: Newly-elected Wisconsin Academy Fellows represent the best of Wisconsin

Contact: Jason A. Smith, communications director

MADISON—The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters today announced its 2011 Fellows: atmospheric scientist Steven Ackerman, geologist Robert H. Dott Jr., Epic Systems Corporation founder Judith Faulkner, musician and composer Maury Laws, economist Donald A. Nichols, visual artist JoAnna Poehlmann, and historian Jeremi Suri. Complete biographies and images of the Wisconsin Academy’s 2011 Fellows can be found below or online at http://www.wisconsinacademy.org along with existing Wisconsin Academy Fellows.

“These new Fellows have all attained extraordinarily high levels of achievement in their professions; individually, they have made varied and fascinating contributions to Wisconsin. As a collection, the Wisconsin Academy’s 2011 Fellows demonstrate vividly that thought and culture thrive in this state, making it a vibrant and wonderful place to live,” says Linda Ware, Fellows selection committee chair.

Join the Wisconsin Academy in congratulating the 2011 Fellows at a public awards ceremony on November 6, 2011, at Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison. More details to follow.

Established in 1981, the Fellows program represents the highest level of recognition conferred by the Wisconsin Academy. Fellows are elected for their high levels of accomplishment in their fields as well as a lifelong commitment to intellectual discourse and public service. These distinguished individuals from a wide range of disciplines help the Wisconsin Academy shape its programs and projects. To be considered, one must have or have had a meaningful relationship with the state of Wisconsin and be highly esteemed for qualities of judgment, perceptiveness, and breadth of knowledge of how literature, art and science contribute to the culture and welfare of the state. Those elected will also have a career marked by an unusually high order of discovery; technological accomplishments; creative productivity in literature, poetry, or the fine or practical arts; historical analysis; legal or judicial interpretation; philosophical thinking; or public service.

The Wisconsin Academy seeks statewide nominations from Academy members, existing Fellows, and the general public for fellowship consideration. The Council, the Wisconsin Academy’s governing body, awards Fellows distinctions based on the recommendation of a selection committee broadly representative of the sciences, arts, and letters. The total number of Fellows is limited to 100.

About the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters

Founded in 1870, the Wisconsin Academy applies the sciences, arts, and letters to bring context, civilized discussion, and meaningful action to the most important issues and ideas of today. We create spaces—public forums, art galleries, publications—where citizens join together to examine the challenges of our times, suggest solutions, and look at the world in new ways. We celebrate and preserve Wisconsin’s human, cultural, and natural resources. In this way the Wisconsin Academy connects people and ideas for a better Wisconsin. For more information on Wisconsin Academy programs and events, or to become a member, visit http://www.wisconsinacademy.org.

Steven Ackerman – Madison

Steven Ackerman’s extraordinary career as an atmospheric scientist has brought him international renown. Ackerman’s research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), where he is director, has produced new methodologies for interpreting satellite observations of clouds, enhancing Wisconsin’s reputation as the birthplace of satellite meteorology. An internationally prominent agency with over 130 scientists and graduate students, CIMSS works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to collect weather data from satellites to improve weather and climate forecasting. As a professor and CIMSS director, Ackerman encourages collaboration and the sharing of techniques, data, and expertise in order to foster advances in weather prediction that help save lives and livelihoods worldwide.

In addition to chairing multiple UW–Madison campus programs that improve teaching and learning, Ackerman has collaborated on the development of engaging online learning tools, written an award-winning textbook on introductory climatology concepts, and published a number of books and popular science articles on the subject.

Ackerman has shared his climate insights not only though his research and course work, but also through his imaginative interdisciplinary connections. His commitment to public science education is reflected in the work he does on weather exhibitions with museums across the country. Travelers at the Dane County Airport can view his work in an art exhibition showcasing satellite images of Wisconsin, and Ackerman can be found discussing weather and climate issues as one of the “Weather Guys” on air at Wisconsin Public Radio and in the pages of the Wisconsin State Journal. His Wisconsin Weather Stories project for K–12 students, developed to generate interest in the science and folklore of weather, garnered acclaim in the form of the 2005 Dorothy Howard Prize for Folklore and Education.

Among numerous other awards and honors, Ackerman received NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal in 2010, the American Meteorological Society’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2009, and in 2007 was recognized for his contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Prize that same year.

Robert H. Dott Jr. – Madison

Beginning his career at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1958 as an assistant professor in the Department of Geology, Robert H. Dott Jr. is today recognized as a humanitarian, a champion of the geological sciences, and faithful mentor to over three generations of students. His pioneering research in sedimentary geology and well-attended lectures and field trips, along with many scholarly articles and a widely used and highly acclaimed textbook titled Evolution of the Earth (8th ed., 2010), combine to make him one of Wisconsin’s foremost historians of geologic thought.

Dott has published papers on a variety of sedimentary processes—deep-sea sands, desert dunes, marine shelves—and his 2002 co-authored paper, “Stranded on a Late Cambrian shoreline: Medusae from central Wisconsin,” published in Geology, reports the remarkable discovery of jellyfish impressions preserved over 500 million years ago. Dott has also published scholarly articles documenting contributions of famous early geologists in Wisconsin, including T.C. Chamberlin, Charles Van Hise, and others.

While maintaining a research program that spanned the continents, Dott also brought attention to significant geo-heritage sites here in Wisconsin. His Roadside Geology of Wisconsin, co-authored in 2004 with John Attig, introduces travelers to some of Wisconsin’s unusual geological features. One of those features, the Point of Rocks outcrop near Baraboo, was through Dott’s stewardship added in 2010 to both the Wisconsin State Historical Society and the U.S. National list of historic sites.

Peers have recognized the value of Dott’s work with the Twenhofel medal from the Society for Sedimentary Geology and the Sloss Award from the Geological Society of America (GSA). Dott was also the national chair of the History of Geology Division of the GSA, and in 1995 received the Division’s Mary C. Rabbit Award for exceptional scholarly contributions of fundamental importance to our understanding of the history of the geological sciences. In April 2011 he received the American Geological Institute’s Marcus Milling Legendary Geologist Medal.

Judith Faulkner – Verona

The developer of a comprehensive, patient-centric electronic medical record (EMR) system and founder of Epic Systems Corporation, Judith Faulkner is recognized for her scientific and technological leadership. Her vision for health care technology is both comprehensive and simple: provide the relevant medical information when it’s needed, do what’s best for the patient, and help clinicians collaborate. Her innovative health information technology infrastructure allows for the implementation of workflow steps, clinical guidelines, and best-practice alerts tailored to each clinician’s role in patient care while on the patient end providing information regarding prescriptions, appointments, communication with the care team, and prevention/treatment reminders.

Epic EMR systems do away with traditional paper files and provide a single, shared patient record which can be accessed by clinical staff across all manner of health care services and, with proper consent, across different health care organizations. Given the complexity and magnitude of medical data that may be included, the technological challenge has been to develop this comprehensive infrastructure for diverse health care settings while scaling to millions of records and thousands of concurrent users who all require rapid response times.

Independent studies have documented the positive impact of Epic technologies on the quality of clinical care and the software has led to improvements in medical research. To date, 240 health care organizations use Epic technologies to provide medical care to approximately 118 million people. This includes fourteen Wisconsin organizations that increasingly serve as the early adopters of the latest advances in Epic’s health technologies.

Faulkner has led Epic strategically and operationally to create state-of-the-art technologies that improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care across Wisconsin, the United States, and, increasingly, the world.

Maury Laws – Appleton

Orchestras, ensembles and vocalists throughout Wisconsin and the world have benefited from the musical compositions and arrangements of Maury Laws. Laws began playing the guitar and singing country music in his native North Carolina at the age of twelve, and by age sixteen was a featured soloist with local dance bands and jazz groups. After returning from service in World War II, Laws toured with the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra and appeared with vocal groups on the Perry Como, Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan shows.

Laws is perhaps best known for his original soundtrack work on animated films and television specials beloved by children the world over,including the stop-motion classics Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1965) and Frosty the Snowman (1969), as well as the Rankin/Bass productions of The Hobbit (1977) and Wind in the Willows (1982).

Many famous artists, including Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Angela Lansbury, Burl Ives, Danny Thomas, Art Carney, Judy Collins, John Houston, and Ethel Merman, can be counted among those who have performed his work, and Laws has also composed music for Off-Broadway theater as well as European and American orchestras alike.

In Wisconsin, Laws brings his professional knowledge to extraordinary collaborations with UW–Oshkosh, Lawrence University, and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra as well as other regional orchestras. In 2004 he crafted music for The Legend of Lambeau Field, a documentary chronicling the life of the historic football stadium, and in 2006 Laws (along with Fred Sturm) composed The Baseball Music Project, an orchestral concert series dedicated to celebrating the National Baseball Hall of Fame through the great lineage of baseball music.

Donald A. Nichols – Madison

An economist with national and international visibility, Donald A. Nichols is recognized as an award-winning teacher, published scholar, university leader, and public servant. For more than thirty years, Nichols has focused his research, teaching, and publications on those factors affecting unemployment, inflation, and regional economic growth.

Currently a Professor Emeritus of Economics and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Nichols served as director of the UW–Madison La Follette School of Public Affairs from 2002 to 2006, building the program into a nationally recognized school of public policy and enhancing its practice of the Wisconsin Idea, a century-long commitment of the University of Wisconsin to extend its expertise beyond the campus borders to solve the problems of the world at large. Nichols also played a key role in the creation of UW–Madison’s Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE), a campus-wide, interdisciplinary research center.

At the state level, Nichols served as economic advisor to Governor Tony Earl, was executive secretary of Earl’s Council on Economic Affairs, and served on Governor Jim Doyle’s Economic Advisory Council. At the national level, Nichols served on the Senate Budget Committee and was U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Research.

In addition, Nichols has made regular contributions to policy debate on a state and national level. In Wisconsin, he is well known for his frequent policy papers and economic forecasts over the last two decades. His frequent “white papers” on the Wisconsin economy have had a profound influence on many policy initiatives.

JoAnna Poehlmann – Milwaukee

JoAnna Poehlmann’s art is a rare combination of superb draftsmanship, meticulous observation, droll humor, and effusive joy. Her graphite drawings, watercolor paintings, and multimedia collage drawings, hand-colored lithographs and etchings, and limited edition books are infused with a deep appreciation of art, literature, and the natural world.

Poehlmann’s pieces are housed in collections both public and private across the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), István Király Muzeum (Budapest), and Museum für Kunsthandwerk (Frankfurt). In addition, her work has been commissioned for nontraditional venues such as the Baltimore Zoo and Milwaukee Performing Arts Center. Recent solo exhibitions in Wisconsin include The Insectipedia of JoAnna Poehlmann (2010) at the Racine Art Museum and On and Off the Wall: Books, Beasts, Boxes, Bats (2008) at Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Schlueter Gallery.

A popular lecturer and teacher, Poehlmann reminds student-artists of the tremendous importance of observation and draftsmanship. Well-known among friends and admirers for her extensive collection of specimens, she strongly prefers to draw from nature. For Poehlmann, drawing with scientific accuracy expresses her respect and love for her subjects. At the same time, she draws from the history of art and literature in her work, making fascinating connections and paying tribute to great artists and writers of the past.

An artist since childhood with an impressive resume of artistic achievement to her credit, Poehlmann’s one concern is having enough time to pursue all of her ideas. As she says, “There’s so much to draw, there’s never going to be enough time to do it all.”

Jeremi Suri – Madison

Jeremi Suri is the E. Gordon Fox Professor of History, director of the European Union Center of Excellence, and director of the Grand Strategy Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research focuses on how global transformations like war, migration, nation-building, and mobility through higher education—all transformations Suri experienced in his lifetime—have affected history as well as contemporary American culture and policy on a global scale.

On campus Suri challenges boundaries by improving interdisciplinary problem solving with groups like the UW JASONS. Founded by Suri in 2009, the UW JASONS work with students and faculty across university disciplines to tackle problems of societal importance at state, national, or international levels. Suri often works with groups such as veteran’s organizations, and provides online courses to U.S. military officers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The author of four books, including the critically acclaimed Henry Kissinger and the American Century (2007), Suri was named one of “America’s Top Young Innovators” in Arts and Sciences by Smithsonian. A prolific writer and frequent public lecturer and guest on radio and television programs, Suri is recognized both in Wisconsin and nationally as an intellectual risk-taker, challenging the boundaries between disciplines and holding the university accountable in fulfilling its obligations to the public. He is not afraid to ruffle feathers—like raising questions about the allocation of athletic department resources—to ensure that institutional conservatism in some quarters doesn’t allow for coasting on a good reputation.