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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 25, 2004

Four Liberal Arts & Sciences Professors Named Dean's Scholars

Linda Maxson, dean of the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has named four newly-tenured associate professors Dean's Scholars, an award that honors faculty who have demonstrated excellence in both teaching and scholarship or creative work early in their careers. The 2004-06 Dean's Scholars are Jonathan Adrain, geoscience; Sonya Franklin, chemistry; Julie Hochstrasser, art history; and Roumyana Slabakova, linguistics.

Dean's Scholar awards are made possible through the UI Alumni Association's endowment of the Dean's Chair in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The endowment, managed by the University of Iowa Foundation, provides funds for the dean to use for special projects within the college.

"As we continue to face funding shortfalls, endowments like the Dean's Chair are more important than ever in supporting our extraordinarily talented faculty members," Maxson said. "I am pleased to be able to recognize this year's Dean's Scholars for their outstanding scholarly and teaching achievements. I am grateful to the Alumni Association for its generous endowment, which provides needed resources for faculty development and other worthy projects."

Dean's Scholars receive a $5,000 discretionary fund for each of two years, which they may use for "any appropriate professional reason," including equipment, travel, supplies or other support for teaching and research initiatives.

Adrain is a paleontologist who studies the evolution and paleoecology of trilobites, ancient marine animals distantly related to modern-day horseshoe crabs. Trilobites were found on Earth for about 300 million years, but have now been extinct for 250 million years. By studying their fossils Adrain offers new insights into major events that shaped life on Earth as we know it today. He will use the Dean's Scholar award to fund fieldwork for himself and his students in Newfoundland, Canada and the Great Basin area of Utah and Nevada. The award will also provide funds for new equipment and general research support. Adrain joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty in 1999 and holds a doctorate in geology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.

Franklin studies the interaction of proteins with DNA and is in the process of developing artificial enzymes that will slow or prevent certain cells from multiplying. Building an artificial enzyme from scratch will advance understanding of how enzymes and proteins function. This has therapeutic applications for chemotherapy and antibiotic development. The Dean's Scholar award will support this ongoing research and also provide funds for exploring a relatively new area of scientific inquiry into the myelin protein thought to contribute to Multiple Sclerosis. Franklin joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty in 1998 and holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley.

Hochstrasser is working on a book to be published by Yale University Press that uncovers the history behind the commodities pictured in seventeenth-century Dutch still-life painting. Dominance in a global network of trade generated the phenomenal wealth of this Dutch Golden Age and accumulated the rich array of products pictured in its paintings. But further investigation of this commerce reveals the toll of violence and exploitation that goes unseen in these artistic presentations, and that same blind spot with regard to the true social costs of this trade may have triggered the end of the Dutch Golden Age. Thus, the paintings offer a revealing history lesson. Hochstrasser will use the Dean's Scholar award to offset the expenses for the illustrations in the book as well as several future projects including a second book on Dutch still-life painting in connection with other dimensions of Dutch daily life and material culture. Hochstrasser joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty in 1998 and holds a doctorate in art history from the University of California at Berkeley.

Slabakova investigates how adult language learners acquire meaning in a second language. Her research questions stem from a well-known contrast: children are nearly universally successful in learning their native language, whereas adult learners of a second language frequently fail. Slabakova's approach to explaining this discrepancy is to show that second language learners actually comprehend much more than they can produce in the second language, hence, they know more than we suspect. Only after making sure that this is indeed a fact, teaching methods may be adjusted accordingly. Slabakova will use the Dean's Scholar award to continue her controlled studies of second language learners' comprehension of implied (but not directly stated) meanings. Slabakova joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty in 1998 and holds a doctorate in linguistics from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu