Five College of Science faculty are among six Texas A&M University faculty recently appointed to the rank of university distinguished professor, effective September 1, 2011.

Dr. Tadhg P. Begley and Dr. Karen L. Wooley, professors of chemistry; Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach, professor of physics and astronomy; Dr. Peter Kuchment, professor of mathematics; and Dr. Bani K. Mallick, professor of statistics, have been recognized along with Dr. Larry J. Reynolds, professor of English, as the latest recipients of the coveted title, which is the highest rank of academic honor a faculty member can attain at Texas A&M.

The 2011 honorees are the most recent additions to an elite group of 64 currently active distinguished professors at Texas A&M, nearly half of whom (31) are affiliated with the College of Science. All are recognized by their peers as being pre-eminent world authorities in their fields and for making one or more signal contributions widely recognized to have redirected the flow of related research or scholarship.

The college's 2011 contingent, scheduled to be honored with a by-invitation-only reception Wednesday, October 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the University Club, equals its record for the largest group honored in a single year -- five in both 2010 and 2007.

"This is once again evidence of the outstanding faculty we have in the College of Science," said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science. "I couldn't be more proud of them and of all our distinguished professors, who continue to represent both the College of Science and Texas A&M University with unparalleled class and distinction."

Begley, a world-class chemist specializing in natural products biosynthesis, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2009 as holder of the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and the D.H.R. Barton Professorship of Chemistry. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1982 and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Geneva and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before embarking in 1986 on a distinguished 23-year career at Cornell University. Begley's research is focused on developing a chemical understanding of how bacteria and yeast make vitamins and involves an innovative combination of molecular biology, protein biochemistry, organic synthesis and structural studies. He has received a prestigious MERIT (Method to Expand Research in Time) Award from the National Institutes of Health (2008), a Merck Faculty Development Award, a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in Dublin and was recently elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has organized several major international conferences and is a member of the editorial boards for Bioorganic Chemistry, Chemical Biology and Drug Design and Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. He also served as editor of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Chemical Biology and Comprehensive Natural Products Chemistry-Vitamins and Cofactors. Widely regarded as an excellent classroom instructor dedicated to training and mentoring, Begley has developed a new course at Texas A&M on the biosynthesis of natural products. In addition, he is co-author of the successful undergraduate textbook, The Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways, and is the principal investigator of the NIH-sponsored Young Faculty Mentoring Workshop. At Texas A&M, he is chair of the Division of Biological Chemistry and a member of eight committees representing his department, college and university.

Herschbach, an international leader in both theoretical and experimental chemical physics who shared in the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2005 in a half-time appointment in the Department of Physics and Astronomy focused on chemical physics. He is a 48-year veteran of the chemistry faculty at Harvard University, where he earned his Ph.D. in chemical physics in 1958 and has served as the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science since 1976. Herschbach's research at the interface of physics and chemistry focuses on structure and reactions of molecules, resulting in more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed academic journals and publications. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Chemical Society of Great Britain. His many awards in addition to the Nobel Prize include the American Chemical Society's Pure Chemistry Prize (1965), the Linus Pauling Medal (1978), the Michael Polanyi Medal (1981), the American Physical Society's Irving Langmuir Prize (1983), the National Medal of Science (1991), the Jaroslav Heyrovsky Medal (1992), the Sierra Nevada Distinguished Chemist Award (1993), the ACS's Kosolapoff Award (1994), the William Walker Prize (1994) and the Council of Scientific Society President's Award for Support of Science (1999). In 1998, he was named by Chemical & Engineering News as one of the 75 leading contributors to the chemical enterprise in the past 75 years. Last April Herschbach was awarded the 2011 American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal, the AIC's highest award which recognizes service to the science of chemistry and to the profession of chemistry or chemical engineering in the United States. Beyond his research and scholarship, he is equally revered for his dedicated efforts to improve K-12 science education and public understanding of science.

Kuchment, a world-respected expert in the field of partial differential equations, medical imaging and mathematical physics, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2001 after 11 years on the faculty at Wichita State University. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics and physics from Kharkov State University, Kharkov, USSR, in 1973 and his doctorate in mathematics and physics from the Academy of Sciences in Kiev in 1983. He then joined the faculty at the Forestry Institute and State University in Voronezh, USSR, achieving the rank of professor in 1985 prior to immigrating to the United States in 1989. In the past decade at Texas A&M, Kuchment has made seminal contributions in the areas of computed tomography, quantum graphs and photonic crystals. His research program has attracted continuous funding support from the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies since his arrival in the U.S. A fellow of the Institute of Physics, he has authored more than 150 research publications in peer-reviewed professional journals as well as a book cited as a "treatise" on the subject of Floquet Theory in partial differential equations. In addition, he has given numerous invited plenary talks and organized prestigious conferences in mathematical physics, tomography and partial differential equations. A longtime supporter of educational outreach, he is director of the Summer Mathematics Research Training (SMaRT) Camp, a two-week NSF-funded program he started in 2009 at Texas A&M to broaden and encourage advanced high school students' interest in mathematics.

Mallick, considered one of today's most influential and productive statisticians as a pioneering researcher in the field of Bayesian nonparametric regression and classification, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1998 four years after receiving his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Connecticut. One of his major contributions is a publication widely used as both a resource and a textbook, Bayesian Methods of Nonlinear Classification and Regression, which is regarded as one of the definitive works on Bayesian nonlinear classification and regression. Mallick is equally renowned for his ability to do major collaborative research with scientists from myriad fields beyond his own, including bioinformatics, nuclear engineering, veterinary medicine, petroleum engineering, industrial engineering, traffic mapping, mechanical engineering, superfund hazardous waste sites and civil engineering. He often develops novel methodology and theory that is essential for sound scientific research in these collaborations and has seven currently funded research grants to support such endeavors. Mallick has been an invited speaker at more than 50 conferences and has advised dozens of current and former Ph.D. students. He has authored and edited six books and numerous research publications. A fellow of the American Statistical Association (2005), Institute of Mathematical Statistics (2008) and Royal Statistical Society (1996), Mallick also is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (1999). He has been honored with the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the Indian Statistical Association (2007) as well as a Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research (2007). He is regarded as one of the most prolific statisticians having a huge impact on the theory and practice of statistics today.

Wooley, widely respected as a top chemist worldwide in the field of materials and polymer chemistry, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2009 as a professor of chemistry and holder of the W.T. Doherty-Welch Chair in Chemistry with a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical Engineering. She earned her Ph.D. in polymer/organic chemistry from Cornell University in 1993 prior to beginning her academic career that same year as an assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. She was promoted to professor with tenure in 1999 and named a James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences in 2006 prior to receiving a joint appointment in the School of Medicine, Department of Radiology in 2007. Wooley's research interests include organic and polymer synthesis, novel macromolecular nanostructures for biomedical and materials applications, degradable polymers, nanoscale polymer assemblies, functional polymers and polymer modification. Her research group spans seven distinct project areas -- including directing a National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-supported Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology -- and has an annual budget of more than $1.2 million. She has published nearly 200 peer-reviewed articles, holds seven patents and, in 2010 alone, delivered 20 invited seminar presentations around the world. Her many awards include a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award (1994-99), an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2002), two NSF Division of Materials Research, Special Creativity Extension Awards (2002 and 2008), one of the inaugural American Competitiveness and Innovation Awards from the U.S. National Science Foundation (2008) and the Herman F. Mark Scholar Award (2009). Wooley serves on the Scientific Advisory Panel for the National Institutes of Health's Nanomedicine Development Centers and the Dutch BioMedical Materials Program and is an editor for the Journal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry as well as a member of several editorial advisory boards and 11 Texas A&M committees. Her move to Texas A&M has supplemented the already strong efforts in polymer chemistry research and has revitalized the educational curriculum with new course offerings in polymer chemistry and nanomedicine.

For a complete list of distinguished professors at Texas A&M, visit http://dof.tamu.edu/node/569.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Tadhg P. Begley

  • Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach

  • Dr. Peter Kuchment

  • Dr. Bani K. Mallick

  • Dr. Karen L. Wooley

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