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ASU names new crop of faculty to highest honor

February 3, 2016

7 professors join rank of Regents' Professors

There are many bright stars in Arizona State University's universe, and a handful of the brightest will be honored Thursday, Feb. 4, at the 2016 Regents' Professors Induction Ceremony in Tempe.

Regents’ Professor is the highest faculty honor and goes to full professors from one of the three Arizona public universities whose exceptional achievements have brought them national or international distinction. With the latest additions, ASU has a total of 83 Regents’ Professors.

The seven newest will be recognized at a ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Evelyn Smith Music Theater on the Tempe campus. Here is a glimpse into their fields, passions and expertise.

Stephen Bokenkamp 

Stephen R. Bokenkamp, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Stephen Bokenkamp was a pacifist during the height of the Vietnam War, so he lobbied with recruiters to serve in a capacity that didn't involve combat. The result made him a spy and set him on a path to become an expert of Chinese culture.

Bokenkamp said he has enjoyed his eight years at ASU, which have challenged him intellectually and professionally. He recently won a Guggenheim award for translation work on his new book, “Zhen’gao” or “Declarations of the Perfected,” a sixth-century Chinese book of celestially revealed material.

“When I came to this university, President Crow said I’d be doing things I’d never done before, and he was right,” Bokenkamp said. “This has been a stimulating place to be.”

portrait of ASU professor Janet Franklin

Janet Franklin, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Janet Franklin, a professor in the ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, fuses disciplines of geography and biology by studying the climate and topographical changes.

She said the honor of being named Regents' Professor has left her “flattered, honored, surprised and humbled.”

“This has been a big year,” Franklin said. “I’m the kind of scientist who has been quietly doing my work for three decades. I never expected this kind of recognition. It feels pretty nice.”

A woman with long hair poses for a portrait.

Petra Fromme, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Petra Fromme, a world expert on proteins, has been a pioneer in using new technology to research their molecular structure. As director of the new Center for Applied Structural Discovery at the Biodesign Institute, she leads 12 faculty and their students from different disciplines studying the structure and dynamics of proteins, potentially leading to improved manmade technologies. 

She feels her appointment as Regents’ Professor will boost the center’s profile.

“I think it will increase the visibility of the center and attract students who would otherwise do their PhD at Harvard or Yale,” she said.

Geotechnical engineer Edward Kavazanjian

Edward Kavazanjian Jr., Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Engineering professor Edward Kavazanjian has excelled as a teacher, researcher and leader among professional colleagues — and he’s still striving to make major contributions to his field.

In nominating Kavazanjian for the designation, fellow ASU engineering Regents’ Professor Bruce Rittmann noted Kavanzanjian’s ability to “engage, challenge and excite graduate and undergraduate students, while providing national and international leadership at the forefront of geotechnical engineering.”

“Bringing new insights to students and seeing how that opens up their perspective on the important work they could do as engineers is why I love teaching,” Kavazanjian said. “Nothing has been as personally rewarding as seeing some of my former students succeed professionally and become my professional colleagues and closest friends.”

portrait of Flavio Marsiglia

Flavio F. Marsiglia, College of Public Service and Community Solutions

Flavio Marsiglia's work on diversity, substance use and youth development is regarded to be among the best and most influential in the field, and it's why he was named as a Regents' Professor.

“Flavio is doing research that is exceptional in every sense,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “He is an internationally recognized expert on health disparities and minority health research who has not only brought innovative ideas to the forefront, he has brought communities together to enact solutions.”

“Most kids do not use alcohol or other drugs, and we as a society tend to focus on the ones who do,” Marsiglia said. “We do, however, need to educate and equip all youth with tools for prevention. Above all else, I want to be an advocate for prevention.”

Robert Page

Robert Page, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Robert Page, an expert in honeybee genetics, was the founding director of the School of Life Sciences and is the former provost. Page calls the Regents' Professor honor “icing on the cake” and is proud of the recognition of his research.

Through the decades of administration, Page has maintained his work with the honeybees. In 2013, he released the book “The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution,” summarizing his lifetime of research.

“I teach the students fundamental biology and behavior of bees and how we take that knowledge and change their behavior to benefit us, so we can profit from their honey and the pollination services they provide," Page said.

“I’ve turned a lot of kids on to bees.”

BL Turner II

B.L. Turner II, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

It doesn’t take long to figure out why B.L. Turner II is a pioneer in the field of sustainability science or why ASU has recently named him a Regents’ Professor. His work has changed the way communities and countries are thinking about the environment and climate change.

Turner was instrumental in founding ASU’s interdisciplinary School of Sustainability, was one of the first researchers to use data to better understand how humans affect the landscape and the implications for the environment.

"I’m very satisfied with what I do and I love what I do. So if you can do what you love doing, people will recognize that what you did is very valuable to you," Turner said. "I enjoy and deeply appreciate the recognition comes along with being a Regents’ Professor."

2 ASU alumni awarded fellowships from National Endowment for the Arts

February 3, 2016

The National Endowment for the Arts celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016. Their first act of the year was to award creative writing fellowships of $25,000 to provide writers with the time and space to create, revise, and research. From a pool of 1,763 applicants, just 37 were selected.

Two of this year’s recipients, Kevin Haworth and Vedran Husić, are graduates of the same program at Arizona State University: the Department of English’s master of fine arts program in creative writing. The Department of English is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Images of Kevin Haworth and Vedran Husić Download Full Image

National Endowment for the Arts director of literature Amy Stolls said of the recipients: “These 37 extraordinary new fellows provide more evidence of the NEA’s track record of discovering and supporting excellent writers.”

Those at ASU who worked with Haworth and Husić as students were thrilled, but not surprised by their selection.

Professor of English Melissa Pritchard, who retired in December 2015, was on graduate committees for both alumni. She remembers them as, “extremely talented, highly intelligent, wildly driven writers.

“Kevin was in a graduate class of mine where we read novels, then practiced writing shadow ‘mini-novels.’ When Kevin read his aloud, we all realized he had a real novel, an important novel, on his hands. Unanimously, we urged him to write it.

“Vedran would read stories in workshop that would leave all of us stunned, unable to say a word. They were magnificent stories.”

Pritchard went on to say, “both Kevin and Vedran were extraordinary students, and have become extraordinary writers. I’m so proud of them.”

Haworth, a 1997 ASU grad, is the author of three books — “Famous Drownings in Literary History,” “The Discontinuity of Small Things” and “Far Out All My Life” — and co-editor of “Lit from Within: Contemporary Masters of the Art & Craft of Writing.” His essays and short stories have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, and The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row, among other venues, and he writes a monthly column for Michigan Quarterly Review. Haworth has taught writing and literature at Arizona State University, Antioch Writers Workshop, 826 Michigan, Ohio University, and Tel Aviv University. He is the Director of Carlow University’s MFA in creative writing.

Husić, who received his ASU degree in 2013, has published fiction in Ecotone, Witness, North American Review, The Massachusetts Review, Blackbird, and elsewhere. A recipient of a Fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, he’s at work on a novel about the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Husic is pursuing a doctorate in creative writing at The University of Missouri, where he also teaches.

ASU’s program in creative writing, from which Haworth and Husić both graduated, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.

Since 1990, 81 of the 138 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA creative writing fellows.

From a release by the National Endowment for the Arts, with contributions from ASU’s Jenny Irish. 

Kristen LaRue-Sandler

Manager, marketing + communications, Department of English