Henry Russel lecturer, awardees named for 2015


Homer A. Neal, known nationally and internationally for his accomplishments in experimental high energy physics, has been selected as the 2015 Henry Russel Lecturer — one of the university’s highest honors for a senior member of its active faculty.

Neal is an interim president emeritus, vice president emeritus for research, director of the University of Michigan’s Project Atlas, Samuel A. Goudsmit Distinguished University Professor of Physics and professor of physics, LSA.

Homer Neal

His selection as the Henry Russel Lecturer recognizes his work, which currently involves research at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, where his research group is part of the ATLAS Experiment. Neal also participated in the DZERO collaboration that in 1995 announced the discovery of the top quark.

In addition, four faculty researchers will receive the Henry Russel Award, one of the highest honors the university bestows upon junior faculty. They are:

• Henriette Dina-Maria Elvang, associate professor of physics, LSA.

• Kristin P. Kuster, assistant professor of music, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

• SangHyun Lee, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering.

• Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, assistant professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health; and research assistant professor of internal medicine, Medical School.

The honorees are selected for recommendation by the Russel Awards Faculty Advisory Committee, chaired by Janet Weiss, dean of the Rackham Graduate School.

The Henry Russel Lectureship is awarded each year to a U-M professor in recognition of exceptional achievements in research, scholarship or creative endeavors, and an outstanding record of teaching, mentoring and service. Neal will present the Russel lecture March 10, 2015.

Neal’s technical research expertise includes the design of particle detectors, particle event reconstruction and analysis, large-scale database management and particle physics phenomenology.

He has led many experiments that have elucidated the nature of spin effects in high energy particle interactions, including proton-proton elastic scattering, electron-positron scattering and in various inclusive hadronic reactions, according to the official Regents Communication submitted by President Mary Sue Coleman.

Neal also has distinguished himself as an innovator in undergraduate science education, at both the university and national level.

While on the National Science Board in 1986, Neal chaired the committee that produced the Board’s first comprehensive report on undergraduate science education. This study resulted in the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program and the Research Experience for Teachers Program, both of which are still flourishing today. When he came to Michigan in 1987, he established a special REU program at CERN, which has benefited hundreds of U-M students, as well as undergraduates from around the nation.

Neal has delivered testimony to Congress on numerous occasions, on matters ranging from the funding of national laboratories to the state of science education. He currently is president-elect of the American Physical Society.

His achievements have been recognized with a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Stony Brook Medal, and the Indiana University Distinguished Alumni Service Award. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Elvang, who came to U-M in 2009, focuses her research on theoretical, high energy physics. More specifically, she works on aspects of quantum field theory, gravity, supergravity and particle physics. Her research interests reside at the interface between particle physics, general relativity and string theory. Currently, she is working on new methods for calculating scattering processes and on problems related to understanding fundamental properties of quantum field theories.

Among her 40 papers 14 already have over 50 citations. Currently, she holds four substantial grants on which she is principal investigator or co-PI, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010-15) and a Cottrell Scholar Award for research and teaching (2013-15).

Kuster, who joined U-M in 2008, has demonstrated an outstanding record of creativity and of teaching others to be creative. Her music has received support from such organizations as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Argosy Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the American Composers Orchestra and the Larson Family Foundation, among many others. She has received commissions from numerous ensembles, and between 2003 and 2013 she held 30 guest composer residencies.

Among Kuster’s many awards are the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission from American Composers Orchestra. At U-M, she already has served on 13 dissertation committees, is the graduate adviser in the composition department, and has taken on the role of departmental director of social media.

Lee, who came to U-M in 2010, focuses his research on the understanding and management of construction dynamics through the design and development of mechanisms, models and systems that integrate automatic data acquisition, computer simulation and visualization, particularly in mega construction projects. He has published 38 journal papers, 68 conference papers, and secured two patents. At the same time, he has also developed two new courses at U-M while introducing a new and important module, Building Information Modeling, to two other courses.

Lee has led research on two grants from the NSF, in addition to other grants that total $3.48 million. He has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, awards for best paper and other honors, the most recent being named the John L. Tishman CM Faculty Scholar (2013-15).

Zikmund-Fisher uses his interdisciplinary background in decision psychology and behavioral economics to study factors that affect individual decision-making about a variety of health and medical issues, with a particular emphasis on health and environmental risk perceptions and the effects of poor numeracy on health and medical decision making.

Currently Zikmund-Fisher is principal investigator of a multiyear award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and test novel ways of displaying laboratory test results in patient portals of electronic health record systems that will make these data more useful and meaningful to patients. He has been first or second author on 24 of the 55 published papers since 2009 and served as senior author (per medical authorship practices) on another 14 articles.

The Russel Award and the Henry Russel Lectureship were established in 1925 with a bequest from Henry Russel of Detroit who received three degrees from U-M.


Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.