Blackwell receives WARF Named Professiorship; Schmidt receives Romnes Fellowship

By Natasha Kassulke

Thirty-two members of the University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty have been awarded 2019-20 faculty fellowships. The awardees span the four divisions — arts and humanities, physical sciences, social sciences and biological sciences — on campus, and two are from the Department of Chemistry.

“Our faculty are a key component of what makes UW–Madison a world research institute and I am excited that we can recognize a cohort each spring with these fellowships,” says Norman Drinkwater, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “These awards highlight faculty efforts to support the research, teaching, outreach and public service missions of the university.”

The awards are made possible by research efforts of UW–Madison faculty and staff. Technology arising from these research efforts is licensed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Income from successful licenses is returned to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education to fund research activities throughout the divisions on campus, including these awards.

Ten faculty are appointed to WARF Named Professorships. The awards, which come with $100,000, honor faculty who have made major contributions to the advancement of knowledge, primarily through their research endeavors, but also as a result of their teaching and service activities. Award recipients choose the names associated with their professorships.

Eleven faculty have received H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellowships recognizing faculty up to six years past their first promotion to a tenured position. The award is named in recognition of the late WARF trustee president H.I. Romnes, and comes with $60,000 that may be spent over five years.

Eleven faculty also have been honored with Kellett Mid-Career Awards to support faculty who are seven to 20 years past their first promotion to a tenured position. The award was created to provide needed support and encouragement to faculty at a critical stage of their careers and comes with $75,000 that may be spent over five years. The award is named for the late William R. Kellett, a former president of the WARF board of trustees and president of Kimberly-Clark Corp.




Helen E. Blackwell, Norman C. Craig Professor of Chemistry, pursues research questions at the interface of organic chemistry and bacteriology to understand the role of chemical signals in bacterial interactions and infectious disease. She and her research lab have developed a range of novel chemical strategies that allow them to intercept and delineate an important cell-cell signaling pathway in bacteria called quorum sensing.




J.R. Schmidt is a professor of chemistry. His research focuses on designing new computational methods to enable predictive modeling of next-generation gas sorbents and catalysts. Schmidt is a leader in efforts to integrate computational chemistry into the undergraduate curriculum.

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