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4 top researchers named 2024 Regents Professors

Professors earn prestigious honor for expertise in supply chain, Shakespeare, anthropology, planetary science

November 16, 2023

Four Arizona State University professors are being honored with the highest faculty award possible — Regents Professor.

The four are internationally recognized experts at the top of their fields, and on Thursday, they joined an elite rank when their nominations were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. The new Regents Professors are:

  • Jonathan Bate, a Shakespeare and sustainability scholar and Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities in the College of Global Futures, the School of Sustainability and the Department of English in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Alexandra Brewis, a medical anthropologist and President’s Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
  • Thomas Choi, a supply-chain management expert and the AT&T Professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, a planetary scientist, Foundation Professor and director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

“Research that has real-world impact — including the ability to spark curiosity and innovation in the classroom — is unbelievably important,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “These new Regents Professors are simultaneously driving new knowledge about our world and pioneering new ways to engage students, which in turn propels discovery that advances society in fantastic ways. They inspire us with their outstanding inquisitiveness, leadership and accomplishments.”

To receive this designation, the new Regents Professors must be recognized by peers nationally and internationally. Groups of tenured faculty members make the nominations, which are evaluated by an advisory committee following an established review process. Crow then considers the recommendations and forwards them to the Arizona Board of Regents for final approval.

“Our newest cohort of Regents Professors are globally recognized scholars and leaders in their respective fields,” said Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost. “They embody the culture of faculty excellence found throughout all fields of study at ASU and are advancing knowledge that contributes to our understanding of the world and our place in the universe.”

Here’s more on the new Regents Professors:

Jonathan Bate

Bate joined ASU in 2019 from Oxford University, where he was provost of Worcester College. He still is a professor of English literature at the University of Oxford.

Bate is an expert in sustainability as well as in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, Romanticism, biography and life-writing, contemporary poetry, visual culture and theater history. He is a Distinguished Global Futures Scholar. He has written 20 books, including “Mad about Shakespeare: Life Lessons from the Bard” in 2022.

In 2015, he was knighted for services to literary scholarship — one of only four literature scholars in the history of the U.K. to have been knighted for scholarship.

One reviewer wrote: “I cannot think of a single active literary scholar anywhere in the world whose accomplishments would better merit appointment as Regents Professor — and that is even before taking account of Bate’s founding and major continuing prominence (as a scholar and as an advocate) in the broader … field of environmental humanities.”

Alexandra Brewis

Brewis, a biocultural and medical anthropologist, founded the Center for Global Health at ASU in 2006 and served as director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change from 2010 to 2017. She is a Distinguished Global Futures Scientist.

She researches the intersections of culture, health, environment and well-being. She focuses on how low social position and resource insecurity interact with daily experiences and emotions to exacerbate the stresses that worsen physical and mental health. She is currently focusing on the topics of obesity, water security and climate change.

One reviewer wrote: “A specialist in the biology and culture of Pacific Islanders, she has done anthropological fieldwork in 13 different localities throughout the world — more than any other anthropologist I know. ... In my opinion, Professor Brewis is one of the most important biocultural anthropologists in the world. Her research has addressed a wide variety of persistent health problems for contemporary human societies — primarily of marginalized low-income populations but also for citizens of very rich countries like our own.”

Thomas Choi

Choi is co-director of the Complex Adaptive Supply Networks Research Accelerator, an international research group of scholars.

He researches the upstream side of supply chains, in which a buying company interacts with many suppliers that are organized in various networks, and his publication record makes him among the most prolific scholars in supply chain management in the world.

One reviewer wrote: “Dr. Choi is well known for his contributions to supply management and, specifically, his work on complex adaptive systems. His seminal paper from 2001 with the Journal of Operations Management served as the springboard for a plethora of papers that surfaced in this domain. One can comfortably argue that he is one of the founders of this domain in the realm of supply chain management. … His work on supplier selection and supplier relationships has revolutionized the literature as well.”

Meenakshi Wadhwa

Wadhwa has been involved in several NASA missions and is principal scientist for the Mars Sample Return mission, which is scheduled to launch no earlier than 2029. She was co-investigator on the Genesis mission and a collaborator on the Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Wadhwa researches the processes that form the planetary bodies in the solar system. Her group has developed novel approaches for using highly precise isotope analyses to measure the time scales involved in the formation of planetary bodies and study the origins of water in the solar system.

One reviewer wrote: “Another indication of her respect within, and her contribution to, the planetary science community has been her active participation, and often leadership, of the many planning committees involved in NASA-related studies of extraterrestrial materials, for example serving as president of the Meteoritical Society. … Generations of planetary scientists have been looking forward to the return of samples collected from known sites on Mars, so her lead role in this effort is a good reflection of the community’s respect for Dr. Wadhwa’s expertise and leadership.”

Editor's note: The titles will be officially conferred at a ceremony Feb. 22.

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