Henry Russel Lecturer, award winners announced for 2023

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Mark E. Newman, a world-renowned physicist and towering figure in the study of complex networks who has reshaped his field and trained a new generation of leading scientists, has been selected as the University of Michigan’s 2023 Henry Russel Lecturer.

The lectureship was announced at the July 21 Board of Regents meeting. Newman will deliver his lecture in the winter term of 2023.

The Henry Russel Lectureship is the university’s highest honor for senior members of its active faculty. It is awarded annually to a faculty member with exceptional achievements in research, scholarship or creative endeavors, as well as an outstanding record of distinguished teaching, mentoring and service to U-M and the wider community.

Also at the meeting, it was announced that four faculty members will receive Henry Russel Awards, the university’s highest honor for faculty members at the early to mid-career stages of their careers.

Those recipients are:

  • Andrej Lenert, assistant professor of chemical engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Alexandra Rosati, assistant professor of psychology and of anthropology, LSA.
  • Kira Thurman, assistant professor of Germanic languages and literatures, and of history, LSA.
  • Liuyan Zhao, assistant professor of physics, LSA.
Mark Newman
Mark Newman

Newman, the Anatol Rapoport Distinguished University Professor of Physics, professor of physics, and of complex systems in LSA, was among the first to recognize the importance of network structure in determining the behavior of complex systems, and to understand how theoretical methods of statistical physics could be adapted to network science.

He helped found the field of modern network science in the late 1990s, a field that is now among the most active areas of complex systems and interdisciplinary physics research.

He has published nearly 200 refereed papers in leading journals. His early papers made fundamental contributions to topics including random graph models, network robustness, assortative mixing, community detection and search algorithms, and have secured classic status in the field.

His recent research addresses two broad areas of network science: the development of statistical inference methods based on generative network models that can detect subtle underlying structures buried in observed data, and the investigation of the mathematical properties of matrices and the development of fast algorithms for investigating clusters of strongly connected nodes, or communities, in complex networks.

His 2003 paper on the structure and function of complex networks was the single most highly cited paper for a decade in all of mathematics. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics.

Newman received his Bachelor of Arts degree and Ph.D. in physics at the University of Oxford. He was appointed a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University in 1991, and in 1996 was appointed a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute where in 1998 he was appointed research professor.

He joined U-M in 2002 as assistant professor of physics, was promoted to associate professor of physics in 2005 and to professor of physics in 2008.

Andrej Lenert
Andrej Lenert

Lenert has received wide recognition for his research that achieves significant efficiencies for producing on-demand electrical power and high-grade heat from solar energy. He has made major contributions for reaching net-zero energy by solving some of the most pressing problems associated with conversion and storage of renewable energy.

Lenert is recognized as a gifted teacher in the classroom and an equally outstanding mentor in the laboratory. He redesigned one of the most challenging required courses for chemical engineering undergraduates, incorporating new learning techniques and tools, and galvanized student engagement.

He joined U-M as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Nanoscale Transport Lab, after which he was appointed in 2016 as assistant professor of chemical engineering.

Alexandra Rosati
Alexandra Rosati

Rosati investigates the evolution of complex cognitive skills such as decision-making and self-control among a wide range of primates, including apes, monkeys and lemurs. She also is developing new comparative understandings of patterns of cognitive development, change and aging in nonhuman primates.

She has developed three successful new undergraduate courses on evolution that feature highly engaging hands-on learning activities, and has codeveloped a new evolution pathway for undergraduates in the biopsychology, cognition and neuroscience major.

She joined U-M in 2017 as assistant professor of psychology and of anthropology.

Kira Thurman
Kira Thurman

Thurman’s scholarship stands at the intersection of German history, German cultural studies, Black studies and musicology. In numerous journal articles and book chapters, and in many invited lectures in North America and Europe, she is opening new perspectives on the history of the trans-Atlantic Black experience through her study of Black classical musicians.

In recognition of her outstanding and original scholarship, she has received a Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, a research fellowship from Vienna’s Institute for Cultural Studies, and a research fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

She joined U-M in 2015 as assistant professor of Germanic languages and literatures and assistant professor of history, and this fall will begin an appointment as associate professor of music.

Liuyan Zhao
Liuyan Zhao

Zhao’s seminal research in condensed matter physics focuses on discovering and understanding novel electronic phases found in quantum materials. Her fundamental discoveries have been widely hailed for their significance in advancing understandings of the unique properties of these materials that can be used in wholly new technologies.

In recognition of her accomplishments and exceptional promise as an earlier-career scientist, she received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award in 2018, and in 2021 she received the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship.

She joined U-M in 2017 as assistant professor of physics and was promoted to associate professor in 2022.

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