Nine faculty earn named professorships

Julie Kundhi, April 5, 2023

Nine faculty earn named professorships

Nine University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors have been awarded professorships from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.

“These exceptional members of our faculty are doing big things, and I am grateful they call Nebraska home,” said Katherine Ankerson, executive vice chancellor. “Their research, teaching, and service is changing lives, not just our students, but the lives of each other and society.”

University Professorships

Of the nine awarded, two faculty members received University Professorships, which recognize those who have shown an extraordinary level of scholarly or creative achievement and clear potential for continuing accomplishments.

Eileen Hebets

Headshot of Nebraska's Eileen Hebets

Eileen Hebets will be George Holmes professor in biological sciences.

Hebets currently holds a Charles Bessey professorship and leads an internationally recognized program that explores elements of behavior, physiology, and ecology to investigate fundamental questions about how and why communication occurs in organisms. Her research has resulted in nearly 140 peer-reviewed articles in top journals. The overall body of her work is highly cited and several papers are considered foundational studies within the field. Hebets has received nearly continuous funding for her science, as well as her science communication and informal science education. She is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and a recipient of the NU Innovation, Development, and Engagement Award and College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award. As president of the Animal Behavior Society, she implemented major policy updates to increase the safety and inclusivity of the society. She is a highly successful mentor to students and postdoctoral researchers, and, through her work with the Organization of Tropical Research, to international scientists as well. She is well known for her many outreach efforts including her Eight-Legged Encounters events and UNL’s SciComm Conference.

Kimberly Tyler

Headshot of Nebraska's Kimberly Tyler

Kimberly Tyler will be George Holmes professor in sociology.

Tyler currently holds a Willa Cather professorship. Her nationally recognized research program seeks to understand both risk and protective factors associated with the most vulnerable populations, including youth experiencing homelessness and victims of partner abuse and/or sexual assault. She has 113 publications with outstanding impact in leading journals for research in her areas of expertise. Her research at UNL has been associated with more than $17 million in funding including grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Tyler is described as an exceptional classroom instructor and a superb mentor willing to reach out to students perceived to be at risk. Her instructional and mentoring skills have been recognized with an award from sociology graduate students and she is a recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award and Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Education. Tyler has served on the editorial boards of several journals, has participated in a wide variety of departmental and university committees, and has been an active member of the American Society of Criminology and the American Sociological Association.

Willa Cather/Charles Bessey professors

Three faculty members were named Willa Cather/Charles Bessey professors. The professorship was established in 2001 to recognize faculty members with the rank of professor who have established exceptional records of distinguished scholarship or creative activity.

Qingsheng Li

Photo of Qingsheng Li in his lab

Qingsheng Li will be Willa Cather professor in biological sciences.

Li conducts internationally recognized research on pathogenesis and prevention of viral diseases with an emphasis on human immunodeficiency virus. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, including one in Science, two in Nature, and three in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and has two patents. Li is currently funded by multiple National Institutes of Health grants as either principal investigator or co-principal investigator and he has received $14 million in external research funds. His contributions to classroom teaching focus on two high-demand, high-enrollment courses with challenging assignments: Human Physiology and Immunology. He is a long serving member of the university’s Research Council, Biotech Advisory Board, and Institutional Biosafety Committee. Additionally, Li has served as an NIH panel reviewer and is a standing section member for the HIV Vaccine Development Study Section. He is on the editorial boards of more than a dozen journals and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Mucosal Immunology Research.

Robert Powers

Headshot of Nebraska's Robert Powers

Robert Powers will be Charles Bessey professor in chemistry.

Powers conducts research on the application and development of nuclear magnetic resonance methodologies to understand the structure, function and evolution of novel proteins and their corresponding therapeutic utility in structure-based drug design programs. He is a leader in both the fundamental and applied areas of omics research, in which monitoring of changes in metabolites, lipids, or proteins within biological systems provide insight into understanding biological processes, including disease states and the response of diseases to potential treatments. His research has resulted in more than 190 publications with outstanding impact, as well as numerous book chapters and patents. Powers’ research efforts have been associated with $50 million in external funding. He is currently a co-principal investigator on numerous grants including two large Department of Defense grants and co-director of a large National Institutes of Health-funded center. Powers is an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award.

Francisco Souto

Photo of Francisco Souto

Francisco Souto will be Willa Cather professor in art, art history and design.

Souto’s creative work pushes the technical boundaries of his discipline, through exploration of mezzotint and highly detailed drawing, while also making visual statements of the social and political reality that is eroding his home country of Venezuela. He has been an artist-in-residence in national and international venues, his prints and drawings have been published in many catalogs and books, and his work is held in several collections worldwide. Souto’s honors include more than 45 national and international awards and grants including Lorenzo iL Magnifico Award at the Florence Biennale International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Italy, special prize at the 7th International Triennial of Prints in Japan, selected prize at the 12th International Biennial of Prints and Drawing in China, and the International Award at the British International Print Exhibition. His work has been exhibited in over 95 venues in the last 12 years including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Fonds d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in France, Till Richter Museum of Contemporary Art in Germany, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, The Nerman Museum of Art in Kansas City, and The Armory Center for the Arts in California.

Susan J. Rosowski professors

Two faculty members were named Susan J. Rosowski associate professors. The professorship recognizes faculty at the associate professor level who have achieved distinguished records of scholarship or creative activity and who show exceptional promise for future excellence.

Brian Couch

Headshot of Nebraska's Brian Couch

Brian Couch will be Susan J. Rosowski associate professor in biological sciences.

Couch conducts research on college science education and is a leader in discipline-based education research, which combines knowledge of teaching and learning with discipline-specific content to help facilitate student understanding. Couch has 48 high impact publications, including one focused on the implementation of new teaching practices in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and several in CBE—Life Sciences Education on assessing core concepts in biology. He has secured 14 external awards, 10 as principal investigator, for $20 million in external funding. Two awards of note are a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence grant for institutional change and a National Science Foundation award for vision and change in biology education. Couch has been a keynote speaker at numerous national conferences, received a major society award, and was an invited panelist to a National Academies round table. He is an editor of a major journal in his field and a senior editor of an open access journal focused on teaching resources in biology and physics.

Xiaoshan Xu

Photo of Xiaoshan Xu in his lab

Xiaoshan Xu will be Susan J. Rosowski associate professor in physics and astronomy and in the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience.

Xu conducts research on metal oxides with emphasis on quantum materials, particularly in ferroic materials involving quantum magnetism, ferroelectricity, and the magnetoelectric multiferroics. He has coauthored more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including ScienceNature Materials, and Physical Review Letters. In the past five years, Xu has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on five major grants including a National Science Foundation $10 million Materials Research Science and Engineering Center grant and a $20 million Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research grant. He has also received early career development awards from the NSF and Department of Energy. Xu’s teaching and outreach excellence extends to include all levels from high school to postdoctoral students, with a proven track record to prepare students for continuing education or the workforce. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter and as a reviewer and panelist for four funding agencies.

Aaron Douglas/John E. Weaver professors

Two faculty members were named Aaron Douglas/John E. Weaver professor. The professorship was established in 2008 to recognize faculty members with the rank of full professor who demonstrate sustained and extraordinary levels of teaching excellence and national visibility for instructional activities and/or practice.

Vanessa Gorman

Headshot of Nebraska's Vanessa Gorman.

Vanessa Gorman will be Aaron Douglas professor in history and in classics and religious studies.

Gorman conducts research into digital approaches to language analysis and categorization, which has contributed to new approaches for teaching Greek and other classic languages. Her instruction builds upon her expertise — exploring new tools to help students gain proficiency in ancient languages. Within the history department, she is described as one of its best and most impactful instructors who provides students with “rich windows” into ancient civilizations. She has two published monographs; an edited book; and nine peer-reviewed journal articles or chapters. Gorman has received numerous accolades for her teaching: the Department of History’s Outstanding Teaching Award; seven Certificates for Contributions to Students from the UNL Parent’s Association; the McClymont Distinguished Teaching Fellow Award; and the NU Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award. Outside of the classroom, she has mentored 10 undergraduate student honors theses in the last five years alone, and within her profession, she is part of two major multi-institutional projects exploring new methodologies to support the scholarship and study of classical languages and literatures.

Kenneth Kiewra

Photo of Kenneth Kiewra

Kenneth Kiewra will be John E. Weaver professor in educational psychology.

Kiewra conducts research on note taking, talent development, and scholarly productivity. He created the SOAR (select, organize, associate, regulate) teaching and learning method and pioneered the investigation of the roles parents play in the talent growth of children. His scholarship has been shared through six published books and numerous published articles and chapters, conference presentations, news articles, and a film documentary. He has been listed among the top 2% of the most cited researchers worldwide throughout their careers, according to research on metascience by Stanford University. Kiewra has given more than 500 invited instructional practice presentations and interviews around the world. He has developed and taught courses for preservice teachers, practicing teachers, teaching assistants and tutors, and those teaching chess in schools. Kiewra’s excellence in teaching has been recognized with the NU Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award, University of Texas at Dallas National Chess Educator of the Year Award, and the College of Education and Human Sciences’ Swanson Award for Teaching Excellence and Charman Outstanding Professor Award.