University names 2019 Henry Russel Lecturer, awardees


Max S. Wicha, a physician-scientist recognized internationally as a leader in cancer stem cell research and immuno-oncology, has been selected as the 2019 Henry Russel Lecturer, considered the university’s highest honor for senior faculty members.

Max Wicha

Wicha is the Madeline and Sidney Forbes Professor of Oncology, director of the Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery and professor of internal medicine, Medical School. He will deliver his lecture during the winter term of 2019.

Wicha was the founding director of U-M’s Rogel Cancer Center for more than 25 years and oversaw its development into one of the top cancer research centers in the country.

The Henry Russel Lectureship is awarded annually to a faculty member with exceptional achievements in research, scholarship or creative endeavors, as well as an outstanding record of teaching, mentoring and service.

In addition, four faculty members were selected to receive Henry Russel Awards for 2019. The Henry Russel Award is one of the university’s highest honors for junior faculty members.

The recipients are:

Meghan Duffy

Matthew Johnson-Roberson

Timothy McAllister

Necmiye Ozay

• Meghan A. Duffy, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, LSA.

• Matthew Johnson-Roberson, assistant professor of naval architecture and marine engineering, and of electrical engineering and computer science, College of Engineering.

• Timothy McAllister, associate professor of music, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

• Necmiye Ozay, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, CoE.

Wicha, among the most highly cited scientists in his field, joined the university in 1980 and has authored more than 200 publications in leading journals. He directs a research group that has made many seminal contributions in understanding the pathways that regulate breast cancer stem cells and the role of cytokines.

Wicha’s research helped identify cancer stem cells in human breast cancer, the first in any solid tumor, and developed the molecular markers and assays that are now widely used to isolate and characterize cancer stem cells. His recent research has been key to understanding the fundamental role that cancer stem cells play in tumor metastasis.

The co-founder of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Wicha collaborates with other biotechnology companies to develop and test cancer stem cell inhibitors. His accolades include the Stanford University J.E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine and the American Association for Cancer Research Komen Award.

A mentor of young scientists, Wicha has participated on many university committees, and has served as president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and as a member on the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Duffy, who joined the university in 2012, is one of the leading evolutionary ecologists of her generation of scientists. She has made groundbreaking research contributions in advancing the understanding of general principles in host-pathogen interactions.

Duffy’s research has advanced fundamental understanding of the evolution of host-resistance to parasitism, and the dynamics of host-pathogen systems and their wider consequences for larger ecological communities. She has published 60 peer-reviewed papers and her awards include a National Science Foundation Early Career Development Program Award.

A national leader in science outreach, Duffy was a mainstage speaker at the March for Science in Washington, D.C., and she established a program that pairs undergraduates at minority-serving institutions interested in ecology and evolutionary science with mentors to help them prepare for graduate school.

Johnson-Roberson, considered the top underwater roboticist of his generation of researchers, joined the university in 2013. He is a world leader in the development of marine robotic systems that can operate in challenging environments and deploy underwater mapping technologies that acquire and assemble massive amounts of data to provide large-scale, 3-D, color-corrected images.

He is co-director of U-M’s Ford Center for Autonomous Vehicles, where he leads multidisciplinary teams that are researching perception, control and planning for self-driving cars and developing algorithms, mathematical models and technologies for object detection and imagery needed for safe autonomous vehicles.

Johnson-Roberson’s awards include the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Program Award. He directs and supports two research labs, has advised 24 master’s students and is the adviser and mentor for two postdoctoral fellows and 13 Ph.D. students.

McAllister, who joined the university in 2014, is the leading performer of the classical saxophone in the world today and a leading champion of contemporary classical music. He performs regularly as a soloist with the world’s finest orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Detroit Symphony.

A member of the PRISM Quartet, McAllister is credited with more than 200 premieres of new works by eminent and emerging composers. He has made more than 40 recordings as a soloist and ensemble performer with major music labels, and he is only the second saxophonist to appear as a soloist in the 120-year history of the BBC Symphony Proms concerts in the Royal Albert Hall.

McAllister, who performed on the Grammy-winning recordings “John Adams: City Noir” and “Gavin Bryars: The Fifth Century,” has earned several accolades, including SMTD’s Paul C. Boylan Alumni Award.

Under McAllister’s leadership, the university’s saxophone program has maintained its reputation as being the most prominent in the world. He has expanded the curriculum to focus on group improvisation and creative music-making.

Ozay, who joined the university in 2013, is a world leader in the field of feedback control engineering for dynamical systems. An innovative engineer, she has developed novel techniques to model, design and test cyber-physical systems.

Her research has produced what has been called an epistemic breakthrough for the development of highly complex cyber-physical systems required for autonomous vehicles, swarms of mobile search-and-rescue robots, smart cities and other smart systems that can reliably operate on a massive scale.

Ozay has also made a major breakthrough in cybersecurity, creating a highly novel approach for detecting attacks on cyber-physical systems that greatly exceeds previous results in detection.

Her awards include the 2014 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award and the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Program Award.

Ozay earned the College of Engineering’s 1938E Award in recognition of her excellence as an outstanding teacher in elementary and advanced courses, as an understanding counselor of students who seek guidance in their choice of a career, as a contributor to the educational growth of the college, and as a teacher whose scholarly integrity pervades her service and is a tribute to the engineering profession.


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