2019 Distinguished Professorships

Seven faculty members have been selected in 2019 to receive distinguished professorships.

The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost is pleased to announce that seven faculty members have been selected in 2019 to receive distinguished professorships:

W.R. Kenan, Jr. Professors:

Ralph S. Baric, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Ralph Baric is truly an exceptional scientist with well-established national and international recognition for his ground-breaking research in emerging infections, virus pathogenesis, drug and vaccine development. His research is highly influential and is of tremendous public health and biomedical significance. Dr. Baric has presented at numerous National Academy of Science meetings as well as various institutes under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization. With over thirty patents addressing critical advances in coronaviruses and other drug development, he has represented US researchers at the Royal Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Baric’s substantial research focuses on emerging coronaviruses, noroviruses and flaviviruses and spans the spectrum from discovery to translation. By developing robust working relationships with industry leaders, Dr. Ralph Baric is a world leader in the field of pathogenic human viruses and his research is instrumental in the development of vaccines.

Samarjit Chakraborty, Professor, Department of Computer Science

Samarjit Chakraborty is a cyberphysical systems researcher whose work spans autonomous and electric vehicles, Internet-of-Things, sensor networks, and smart buildings. Dr. Chakraborty has performed seminal research in such areas as memory-aware control systems design, worst case execution time analysis for synchronous languages, and power management.  His work has attracted the attention and support from leading industrial players ranging from technology companies such as Google to automotive companies such as General Motors, BMW, and Audi.

Paul A. Dayton, Professor and Associate Chair, UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering

Paul A Dayton, PhD, a biomedical ultrasound engineer, is Professor and Associate Chair of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / North Carolina State University Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering.  He is also Professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and an Adjunct Professor of Radiology.  He is widely published and cited for his innovative work using ultrasound and microbubble contrast agents for biomedical applications. Dr. Dayton is the Principal Investigator of a substantial and highly productive research group involved in developing new technologies for imaging blood flow, microvasculature, and molecular markers. Dayton group’s recent contributions to the field include techniques to improve the sensitivity and consistency of ultrasound imaging through optimization of contrast agent size distribution, the demonstration of high-resolution, high-SNR ultra broadband imaging, and techniques for real-time molecular imaging. They are also making world recognized advances in ultrasound-mediated therapeutics with micro and nanoparticles, and developing and applying tools for non-invasive assessment of angiogenesis progression and tumor response to therapy.


Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor:

Elizabeth Frankenberg, PhD, Professor, Department of Sociology, Director, Carolina Population Center

Elizabeth Frankenberg is a sociologist and population scientist. Her scholarship focuses on individual and family level responses to exogenous environmental change (e.g., disasters) and, by extension, the role of community in individual health and well-being. Her research on the demographic, social, economic, and health impacts of the December 26, 2004 tsunami on Indonesia is the strongest large-scale study ever done to measure population-level response to a disaster over a long period of time. Initially, the focus was on mortality, displacement, mental health and well-being immediately after the disaster, but as time has passed, she has considered the longer-term consequences of exposure to a major stressor for individuals and for population dynamics. In addition, Frankenberg is the Director of the Carolina Population Center (CPC) where she is one of UNC’s most important and innovative leaders shaping the University’s research portfolio.


Burton Craige Distinguished Professor:

Michael J. Gerhardt, School of Law

Michael Gerhardt is one of the most eminent constitutional scholars working in the United States today.  His careful, probing, and elegantly written scholarship has earned him widespread recognition as the preeminent American scholar in the fields of impeachment, appointments, presidential power, and precedent.  Exemplifying the Carolina spirit of public service, Professor Gerhardt has tirelessly contributed his expertise to the public good by performing pro bono work for the federal government and nonpartisan non-profit groups. He is the only scholar in American history to be significantly involved in the confirmation proceedings for seven of the nine justices on the United States Supreme Court.  Professor Gerhardt is the first scholar in American history to be invited by the Library of Congress to serve as its principal consultant in advising the updating of the official United States Constitution Annotated – a volume produced only once every ten years.


Alumni Distinguished Professors:

Richard A. Luettich, Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Director, Institute of Marine Sciences

Rick Luettich is a Professor of Marine Sciences and Environmental Sciences and Engineering. He also serves as Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS), an off-campus research laboratory and teaching facility of UNC-Chapel Hill located on the central North Carolina Coast. IMS is one of the premier marine laboratories in the country and is recognized by the State of North Carolina for its stature, contributions and accomplishments. Professor Luettich is also Director of the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, which performs research and develops education programs to enhance the nation’s ability to safeguard populations, properties, and economies from coastal hazards. Professor Luettich’s research focuses on modeling and observational studies of physical processes in coastal systems. His modeling has emphasized the development and application of unstructured grid methods that are optimized for geometrically complex systems such as sounds, estuaries and tidal inlets. He is best known for his contributions to the development of efforts to transition to end users the coastal circulation and storm surge model ADCIRC. This model is now in wide use in the academic, governmental and private sectors for coastal risk assessment studies, coastal protection and design studies and more recently to provide real-time predictions of storm surge.

Gillian K. Russell, Professor, Department of Philosophy

Russell is one of the world’s leading philosophers of logic and language. She works, in other words, at the austere, formal, rigorous core of contemporary analytic philosophy. Her highly creative, ambitious, and important book, Truth in Virtue of Meaning: A Defense of the Analytic-Synthetic Distinction (Oxford University Press, 2008), is a must-read for anyone working on the perennial, central philosophical questions concerning sentences (such as “All squares have four corners”) that are true purely in virtue of their meaning. Russell’s work on “barriers to implication” (such as the idea that it is impossible — in principle — to deduce how things ought to be from how things are) boldly investigates the very notion of a barrier to implication, rather than examining various alleged barriers one by one. Despite the abstract, technically sophisticated character of her research, Russell is able to make logic alive for her students. She has a remarkable gift for communicating formidably sophisticated material and meeting her students wherever they are – even those students who are not especially inclined towards (indeed, are perhaps somewhat frightened of) mathematical logic. She is an inspirational teacher and (as the Philosophy Department’s Director of Graduate Admissions) a linchpin of the Department’s standing as the top philosophy graduate program in the South and safely in the top dozen in the US overall.


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