Distinguished University Professor presentations set for Nov. 15


Three faculty members who have received one of the University of Michigan’s top honors will talk about their career work before a virtual and in-person audience Nov. 15.

Distinguished University Professors Lutgarde Raskin, Joel Slemrod and Karen Smith will speak at 4 p.m. in the Alexander G. Ruthven Building’s University Hall. Members of the public are welcome to attend.


The event also will be livestreamed on the U-M YouTube channel at youtu.be/tuA7-SWBJzM.

Each lecture will conclude with a brief question-and-answer session with the audience. The event will be followed by a reception.

The Board of Regents established the Distinguished University Professorships in 1947 to recognize senior faculty who have exceptional scholarly or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence and superior records of teaching, mentoring and service.

Each honoree names the professorship after a person of distinction in their field. Recipients give an inaugural lecture that highlights their professional and scholarly experience.

Those who wish to attend or watch the livestream of the lectures can register online.

Here’s a look at the professors and the topics of their presentations:

Lutgarde Raskin

“Managing Microbiomes in Urban Water Systems”

Lutgarde Raskin
Lutgarde Raskin

Raskin is the Vernon L. Snoeyink Distinguished University Professor of Environmental Engineering. She also is the Altarum/ERIM Russell D. O’Neal Professor of Engineering, associate dean for academic programs and initiatives, and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.

In their recommendation to the Board of Regents, Susan M. Collins, then provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Michael Solomon, Rackham Graduate School dean and vice provost for academic affairs, wrote, “Professor Raskin’s work strives to use sustainable design approaches to understand and improve the engineered water cycle microbiome.

“She is a pioneer in the field of applied microbial ecology and has fundamentally shaped how microbial-ecology based research can be applied to solve problems in critical areas of pollution control, clean water, and renewable energy.”

Raskin’s presentation will provide an overview of her research contributions focused on managing microbiomes in existing urban water infrastructure and development of sustainable biotechnologies for our collective urban future.

Joel Slemrod

“Life and Taxes”

Photo of Joel Slemrod
Joel Slemrod

Slemrod is the David Bradford Distinguished University Professor of Economics. He also is the Paul W. McCracken Professor of Business Economics and professor of business economics and public policy in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business; and professor of economics in LSA.

“Professor Slemrod is a leading global authority on the design and effects of tax policies. He has made numerous path-breaking contributions to almost every area of inquiry related to taxation,” Collins and Solomon wrote.

“He has demonstrated how tax policies affect the behavior of households and firms, and his insights have both shaped academic understanding of taxation and contributed to the structure of government tax practices worldwide.”

Slemrod will present highlights from his experience of more than 40 years about inquiry on taxes in an accessible way.

Karen Smith


Karen Smith
Karen Smith

Smith is the William Fulton Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics. She also is the M.S. Keeler II Professor of Mathematics and professor of mathematics in LSA.

“Professor Smith is a distinguished mathematician whose research is in algebraic geometry, a field of study that seeks to understand the properties of the solutions of systems of polynomial equations and leads to some of the deepest areas of all mathematics,” Collins and Solomon wrote.

“While a highly abstract field of mathematics, algebraic geometry has a host of applications, from computer-aided design to medical applications to cybersecurity. Professor Smith is a leader in understanding the field from a theoretical perspective and in discovering its conceptual connections with other areas of mathematics.”

Smith’s lecture will be about geometric shapes called algebraic varieties. Specifically, she will look at pictures of the singularities of some of these objects — points where the shape crosses itself or has a pinch point or is otherwise “non-smooth.”


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