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Six outstanding ASU faculty recognized as rising stars

September 29, 2008

Six faculty members who are “rising stars” in the ASU firmament have been named exemplars by President Michael Crow. These teacher-scholars are pioneers, some still early in their careers, producing such high quality teaching and research that they set an example for others to follow.            

They include a world-class violinist, an electrical engineer who came to ASU from private industry, and four scientists whose work crosses boldly over disciplinary boundaries.           

Three are assistant professors who have earned tenure with promotion to associate professor status. They are John “Marty” Anderies in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and Jason Robert in the School of Life Sciences, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Danwen Jiang in the School of Music, Herberger College of the Arts.           

Bertan Bakkaloglu, associate professor of electrical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, received tenure. Jennifer Fewell received promotion to professor in the School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.            

Hao Yan is such a prolific and talented scholar that he was promoted from assistant professor to full professor with tenure in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.            

Anderies is a pioneering researcher on the resilience of social-ecological systems, using a range of analytical techniques to study how individual decision-making processes influence social and environmental outcomes. He has developed new ways of helping science students understand and work with mathematical methods.           

 “Marty is one of the very rare breed of young scientists who is as much at home in mathematics and econometrics as he is in biology and social science,” says Sander van der Leeuw, director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. “He actively integrates elements of all these in his very original approach to modeling and understanding institutions.            

 “He is an excellent scientist, and he is committed to early participation of students in research. His students and colleagues enjoy his warm enthusiasm for his work and its challenges.”           

Robert is a bioethicist whose research interests are diverse, ranging from the philosophical aspects of developmental biology to the philosophy of psychiatry. He is especially interested in the ethical dimensions of individual and population health, and of novel biointerventions.

"Jason Robert has boundless energy, which is reflected in the incredible rate of scholarly productivity and the breadth of the teaching commitments he has taken on,” says Robert Page, director of the School of Life Sciences. “In addition to teaching in our undergraduate programs in SoLS, he teaches medical ethics full time for the new medical school located in downtown Phoenix.  He is truly an exemplar of energy, enthusiasm, and accomplishment.”

Jiang has performed as a soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras in Asia, Europe and North America, and has appeared in concert halls such as Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, La Salle Gaveau in Paris and the Cultural Centre Concert Hall in Hong Kong. As a Chinese national violin competition prizewinner, she came to the United States as a young artist 21 years ago.           

She is a devoted and accomplished teacher, having taught at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at conservatories throughout the world before joining ASU in 2003. Many of her former students have embarked on prestigious positions in symphony orchestras and have won top prizes. She won the Herberger School’s Distinguished Teacher Award in 2005.           

 “Danwen Jiang is a world-class violinist, as shown by her many prestigious engagements worldwide,” says Kimberly Marshall, director of the School of Music. “She is also a dedicated teacher, with abundant student successes testifying to her effectiveness as a pedagogue.”

Bakkaloglu joined ASU in 2004 after nine years of advanced integrated circuit development at Texas Instruments Inc. Since then he has built a cross-disciplinary, use-inspired microelectronic design program that has gained national attention. Two of his projects have been developing devices to track the impact on humans of long-term exposure to exhaust gases, and building very low power microphones for hearing aids that can track the direction of the sound source.

His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Air Force Research Labs, as well as companies and consortia. The NSF-funded hearing aid project has the potential to help approximately 28 million Americans who suffer from a hearing impairment.

He currently mentors more than eight doctoral students, four master’s students and several undergraduates, and has developed or re-designed several classes.

“Professor Bakkaloglu has transferred his research successes to the classroom by providing ASU students with real-world problems as well as future applications,” says Stephen Phillips, chair of electrical engineering. “He believes that the future of research and development in the area of solid-state circuits and systems depends on educating students with strong backgrounds in a broad spectrum of engineering and application areas. His research is collaborative across these areas.”

Fewell’s research on the evolution and organization of social behavior, particularly division of labor, also is collaborative. She has been involved in the creation and leadership of the new Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity at ASU. The center fosters interdisciplinary research on fundamental questions of social organization, from insects to humans, and it brings together faculty from many diverse fields.

“Jennifer Fewell is a model citizen, exciting researcher, and a dedicated teacher and mentor,” says Page, life sciences director. “She co-directs the new center, runs the MARC program for minority student research, mentors several graduate students and undergraduate students in her lab, and is an excellent teacher, teaching a large enrollment introductory biology course. 

 “On top of that she has an exciting research program in social biology.  Jennifer has been an exemplar of the dedicated faculty member for most of her career. It is fantastic that the time has come for her to get the recognition she deserves.”

Since coming to ASU four years ago to join the Biodesign Institute and the chemistry and biochemistry department, Yan has made quite a mark. He was among the first scientists to see the potential of programming DNA to recognize chemical patterns and respond in a way that caused matter to self-organize at the nanometer scale. His work combines chemistry, biology, physics and material science.

“Professor Yan has produced a rapid and constant stream of innovative ideas and patents, an extreme rate of first-rate publications, impressive new approaches to teaching and training and an astounding rate of winning research funding,” says William Petuskey, chair of chemistry and biochemistry. “A large part of his success can be attributed to the rich intellectual and resource environment of the Biodesign Institute.

“The situation with Professor Yan is a wonderful example of the opportune convergence of scientific training, technological savvy, an acute appreciation of the research environment in which he found himself, and an intense drive to take advantage of all. To be sure, his work and example have impacted a significant sector of the ASU technological community.”

These exemplary faculty have received an extra salary increase in addition to the promotion adjustment. Their curriculum vitae and personal statements can be found on the Web at