News, Science & Research

Inaugural research awards recognize University faculty members

University celebrates faculty achievement with recognition, monetary compensation

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Professors Tim Kraska, Constantine Dafermos, Joseph Braun, Susan Moffitt, Vincent Mor and Maurice Herlihy received their awards at a ceremony April 19. The awards honored both senior and early-career faculty.

The University honored six faculty members for their research with the inaugural Brown Research Achievement Awards April 19. Various departments nominated a total of several dozen candidates and a panel of faculty members narrowed down the list. The winners, which included both senior and early-career faculty members, received a certificate from the University and a $5,000 award.

The University has made great strides to improve the scale and quality of research in recent years and wanted to celebrate the success of that endeavor, wrote David Savitz, vice president for research and professor of epidemiology, obstetrics and gynecology, in an email to The Herald.

“We see these awards as an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the faculty as leading researchers,” Savitz wrote. “Their research accomplishments are central to their roles as educators and contributors to both the academic community at Brown and to addressing societal challenges.”

Professor of Applied Mathematics Constantine Dafermos and Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice Vincent Mor won the Distinguished Research Achievement Award, which recognizes faculty members who have contributed a variety of nationally recognized research while at Brown.

Dafermos’ research has focused on nonlinear hyperbolic systems, an area of mathematics that helps explain how shockwaves work and bridges the gap between mechanics and partial differential equations.

“It’s a very good idea for the University to try to celebrate research activities at Brown because there is tremendous research activity here,” Dafermos said. These awards help recognize individuals who create high-quality work and allow researchers from different disciplines learn about research in other fields, he added.

Mor has worked extensively on improving the quality of care in nursing homes across the country. Analyzing national information about nursing homes, Mor has conducted research on identifying factors that can help improve the quality of care within these homes, such as the availability of doctors and nurses throughout the facility. Mor said he was honored by the recognition from the University and his peers, adding that he hopes to use the award to help fund a student for the summer.

Professor of Computer Science Maurice Herlihy received the Research Innovation Award for his work in distributed computing, a technique for improving the speed of multicore processors, which have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. His work helped bridge the gap between software and hardware and has been adopted by a variety of companies, including Intel and IBM. Herlihy said he plans on using the award money to attend innovative conferences.

Tim Kraska, assistant professor of computer science, Joseph Braun, assistant professor of epidemiology and Susan Moffitt, associate professor of political science and international and public affairs, were awarded the Early Career Research Achievement Awards — given to faculty members who have produced cutting edge research during their few years at Brown.

Kraska has focused on “democratizing data science” over the last few years, working to make data science accessible to everybody, not just those with extensive education and training. He has helped develop a variety of tools to make data science easier to understand and visualize. Winning the award “shows me that we are on the right track with our research agenda,” Kraska said.

Braun has focused his research on a group of children in Cincinnati, tracking individuals with low-level exposure to a variety of chemicals since birth. He is hoping to create a general profile of an individual with low-level exposure throughout their lifetime, tracking progressive changes in their health. Braun plans to bring more students into his research with the award and said he was honored to be recognized for his work from the last few years.

The University plans on continuing the awards, though the categories and number of awards distributed may vary in years to come, Savitz wrote.