4 professors awarded highest faculty honor as Regents' Professors

professor's portrait

Four Arizona State University professors have been named Regents’ Professors for their extraordinary scholarly contributions.

Regents’ Professor is the highest faculty honor awarded at ASU, conferred on faculty who have made pioneering contributions in their areas of expertise, who have achieved a sustained level of distinction, and who enjoy national and international recognition for these accomplishments.

Honored with the distinction of 2013 Regents' Professors are:

• Barbara Ainsworth, associate director of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, professor of exercise and wellness, College of Health Solutions

Aditii Chattopadhyay, Ira A. Fulton Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, within the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the director of the Adaptive, Intelligent Materials and Systems Center at ASU

James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Bert Hölldobler, Foundation Professor of Life Sciences, School of Life Sciences, within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The awardees will be honored at an induction ceremony Feb. 6, 2014.


Barbara Ainsworth is internationally recognized for her research on physical activity and its intersection with public health. She is best known as lead author of the seminal research on the measurement and assessment of physical activity, published in the Compendium of Physical Activity, a reference used by researchers across the world to calculate the energy expenditure of activities ranging from gardening to jumping rope to downhill skiing. The original article is one of the most highly cited references in the United States.

Ainsworth has published nearly 250 other articles in top tier journals. Many relate to the ideals of ASU: community embeddedness and use-inspired research. Through her work, Ainsworth has addressed one of the most critical societal issues of our times, that of the increasing prevalence of obesity across the lifespan.

Additionally, Ainsworth has developed interventions that promote physical activity among vulnerable populations, such as minority women and older adults. She also has researched the impact of neighborhood environments on physical activity, assessed the validity of questionnaire- and device-driven measures of physical activity and investigated the promotion of physical activity in economically disadvantaged and minority populations. She works with interdisciplinary teams that are both national and international in scope.


Aditii Chattopadhyay is an internationally renowned expert on composite materials, structural health monitoring, multidisciplinary design optimization and their application in a range of important problems central to the aerospace industry and a growing variety of applications in civil/structural industries. She has provided national and international research leadership in several areas of critical importance to national priorities in aerospace engineering. These include contributions in the areas of smart materials and structures, composite materials, structural health monitoring, multidisciplinary optimization and aeroelasticity. 

Her research has been devoted to advancing basic understanding and translating that understanding to engineering practices of monitoring the long-term health of structures and materials. There are immense engineering and economic benefits to her research. Understanding and improving the health of structures and of extending the life of aging aircraft is perhaps the most significant challenge faced in the aerospace industry today.

Research by Chattopadhyay has resulted in 150 archival journal publications, 350 other publications (conference papers, book chapters and NASA Technical Memorandum) and numerous invited plenary and keynote lectures. Due to her achievements, she has been elected to the grade of Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Georgia Institute of Technology Hall of Fame. She has also received several NASA Tech Brief awards, which is among NASA’s most prestigious awards.


James Paul Gee has made extraordinary scholarly contributions, not only evidenced by his vast and varied publications, but also by highly significant intellectual contributions in three different disciplinary areas, including sociolinguistics and new literacies, discourse analysis methods, and digital media and video games. His seminal work in new literacy studies, alone, has led to an international reputation that is nearly unparalled in education. He is a member of the National Academy of Education.

Three of his many books, each with a different field and focus (sociolinguistics and new literacies, discourse analysis methods, digital media and videogames), have over 5,000 citations. He has fostered paradigm change in all three areas. His latest endeavors have been in digital learning. His research and applications in an emerging industry focus on the development of games and digital media for learning. Gee’s influence can be seen in the design of cutting edge educational games that have been used by literally millions of players. 

Gee’s pioneering research into the linguistic, cognitive and sociocultural foundations of learning and literacy, with a recent emphasis on digital media, has transformed learning sciences. His research is leading to new directions in reforming schools at all levels. 


Bert Hölldobler is lauded for his pioneering discoveries into the behavioral physiology, chemical communication and orientation behavior of animals, unlocking the social world of nature's most complex societies: the ants. He has also served as a nexus for building research partnerships across the globe and educational opportunities that cut across boundaries of discipline, institution and country of origin. He has refined how to do field research, and not just in life sciences.

Hölldobler’s research has created venues to look at the earth beneath our feet and see the connection between nature’s creatures, the remarkable variety and role that biodiversity plays in maintenance of a healthy planet and ways to understand the complexity in our own human systems. He has also opened doorways to understand species that have formidable economic impacts on people, globally. His revolutionary research into the social behavior of ants has led to key discoveries in the areas of animal communication, behavioral physiology and ecology, sociobiology, chemical ecology and evolutionary biology.

Hölldobler's impact on the scientific community and public is inestimable. He has authored or co-authored more than 312 scientific research papers since 1960, in addition to four books authored with longtime collaborator, Harvard Professor Emeritus Edward O. Wilson. Hölldobler holds the singular distinction among faculty at ASU, and is one of only a handful worldwide, of holding the triple crown of memberships: the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is the recipient of the Leibniz Prize of the German Science Foundation, the highest research award in Germany. He also is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and 20 other national and international awards for his research and scholarship.