University primatologist caps 4 decades of teaching, mentoring with award

May 7, 2012

Leanne Nash was the first female professor and only primatologist on campus when she joined Arizona State University’s Department of Anthropology 41 years ago.

She is retiring this month from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which was formed from the earlier anthropology department. Professor Leanne Nash Download Full Image

In April, the ASU Faculty Women’s Association awarded Nash the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, which “seeks to recognize faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding mentorship to students and/or to other faculty.”

Nash’s success as a mentor is especially notable because most of her students have been women, who continued on to successful careers in a field long dominated by men.

“Nobody epitomizes the characteristics of support and guidance this award honors as strongly and as continuously as professor Leanne Nash,” said Brenda J. Baker, fellow ASU anthropologist.

Throughout her career, Nash reached out to other women faculty, providing guidance that ranged from answering questions about the university, and the field in general, to offering emotional support and resources.

Her legacy also includes launching eight new anthropology doctoral graduates and chairing 26 master’s level and five undergraduate student thesis committees. Her first doctoral student also was the first female doctorate awarded in physical anthropology at ASU.

During her tenure, she remained the university’s sole primatologist and gained a reputation for establishing and overseeing a galagos colony on the Tempe campus and for her collaborative work with the Primate Foundation of Arizona and the Phoenix Zoo. Nash was one of the first primatologists anywhere to study exudates, the plant gum that some primates eat and ferment internally.

In 2008, the American Society of Primatologists honored Nash with the Distinguished Primatologist Award. Yet, for Nash, the “inspiring students and great colleagues” she has worked with over the years are the highlights of her career.

Baker added, “Nash has had a profound effect on the field of primatology and the development of ASU’s anthropology program. She will also be remembered for many years to come for her ongoing dedication to mentoring students and colleagues.”

Ashley Carter,
School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Petuskey, Kenney to aid in advancing Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU

May 7, 2012

William Petuskey and Patrick Kenney, senior faculty leaders with extensive teaching, research and administrative experience at Arizona State University, have been appointed associate vice presidents of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

Petuskey has served as chair of ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since 2006. His doctorate in ceramic science is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kenney, founding director of ASU’s School of Politics and Global Studies, has a doctorate in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Iowa. William Petuskey and Patrick Kenney Download Full Image

“Arizona State University is embarking on an ambitious goal of doubling the research volume and more importantly accelerating impact, which requires advancing research, innovation and entrepreneurship in all areas of the university,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

“Such a goal requires strategic and tactical thinking in all disciplines, including humanities and arts, social sciences, physical and natural sciences, engineering and technology. This necessitates scholar leaders who not only understand our intellectual assets but also have the ability to link them to potential opportunities to accomplish our mission,” Panchanathan said.

“Dr. Petuskey will help advance the natural and physical sciences, engineering and technology portfolio. Dr. Kenney will help advance social sciences research across the university. Dr. Kenney will assume the OKED role in addition to serving as the incoming dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Panchanathan.

“We are rapidly accelerating economic and societal impact. Dr. Petuskey and Dr. Kenney bring the leadership and the proven experience of working with faculty members and students to help us build a major world class knowledge enterprise,” Panchanathan said.

An important objective of OKED is to bring together faculty expertise around various themes and concepts and connect faculty members with institutes, initiatives, research centers and opportunities with federal and state agencies, as well as with industry and foundations.

“The breadth of research activities at ASU is astounding and has produced a stimulating environment to work,” said Petuskey. “Hardly a day goes by that I haven’t learned of something new and interesting going on here. The enormous growth in recent years of the overall research enterprise at ASU can be measured in terms of competitively won research funding, publications and presentations, and the patenting of new innovations.

“A major part of my new job will be to help facilitate the continuing growth of these activities. As a department chair, I took great pride in the accomplishments of our faculty, students and staff. I look forward to the same experience as I become more engaged in the larger ASU research community,” Petuskey said.

Petuskey was co-director of the Science and Engineering of Materials Graduate Program from 1998-2006. He joined ASU in 1983 as an associate professor and has served as assistant and associate chair of the department before being appointed chair in 2006. Early on at ASU, Petuskey focused his attention on the chemistry of materials and was one of several principal investigators of major NSF-funded initiatives on the high pressure synthesis of new materials. More recently, he has focused research on nanomaterials for electronic, magnetic and structural applications. Before coming to ASU, Petuskey was an assistant professor in the department of ceramic engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Kenney, who has been at ASU since 1986, remarked: “The research questions currently examined by ASU faculty and students are substantial, cutting across a range of fundamental and normative topics.

“Social science scholars bring an eclectic set of methodologies to bear on solving puzzles and challenges facing the globe. In my role with OKED, I look forward to advancing the social science research efforts at ASU,” Kenney said.

In addition to his position as an associate vice president in OKED, Kenney will continue his role as director of ASU’s Institute for Social Science Research and serve in a new role as dean of social sciences for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Kenney, who is author of “No Holds Barred: Negative Campaigning for the U.S. Senate” and “The Spectacle of U.S. Senate Campaigns,” was chair of ASU’s Department of Political Science from 2002-2009, before helping establish and then being appointed director of the School of Politics and Global Studies.

ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development advances research, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship. The university’s major interdisciplinary research institutes and initiatives are part of OKED, which include the Biodesign Institute, Global Institute of Sustainability, Flexible Display Center, LightWorks, Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative, Security Defense Systems Initiative, Learning Sciences Institute, Institute for Social Science Research, Institute for Humanities Research and Decision Theater.