Carnegie Mellon University
September 13, 2019

MCS Faculty Honored with Professorships

By Jocelyn Duffy

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS

Six Mellon College of Science (MCS) faculty members have been honored with professorships to support their work in biological sciences and physics. Alison Barth, Luisa Hiller, Veronica Hinman, Benjamin Hunt, Sandra Kuhlman and Curtis Meyer were recognized at a reception Sept. 12 in the Mellon Institute. 

“An endowed professorship is one of the highest honors that our institution bestows upon faculty, and this honor symbolizes the high esteem to which they are held,” said Carnegie Mellon University Provost Jim Garrett.

Barth, Hinman and Meyer received endowed professorships that will support their work at Carnegie Mellon. Hiller, Hunt and Kuhlman received career development professorships that support scientists at the beginning of their careers.

“Each of these faculty members are being recognized for their important work in fields that will be some of the most important of the 21st century,” said Rebecca W. Doerge, Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science. “While their discoveries will make a significant impact in the world, that impact is equaled by their contributions to the students who they teach in class and mentor in the lab.”

Maxwell H. and Gloria C. Connan Professorship in the Life Sciences
Alison Barth, Professor of Biological Sciences

Barth joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 2002, after earning her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the cellular and synaptic changes that occur in the brain’s neocortex during learning. She is also interested in identifying the algorithms of learning and determining how these algorithms can be used to inform engineered systems.

Barth has received numerous awards, including the McKnight Foundation’s Memory and Cognitive Disorders Award, the Humboldt Foundation’s Bessel Research Award and a Sloan Foundation Fellowship. Barth also holds appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute.  

Maxwell H. and Gloria C. Connan established this professorship in 2002 to support the work of Carnegie Mellon. The Connan’s were profoundly committed to the university and were enthusiastic supporters and volunteers for more than 60 years.

Eberly Family Career Development Professorships of Biological Science
Luisa Hiller, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Sandra Kuhlman, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Hiller joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty after earning her Ph.D. from Northwestern University Medical School and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute’s Center for Genomic Sciences. Hiller studies the molecular mechanisms Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) employs to cause disease. She has discovered novel cell-to-cell communication molecules that are employed to promote disease.

Kuhlman joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky and holding postdoctoral positions at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the University of California, Los Angeles. Kuhlman studies the influence that cortical inhibitory circuits have on sensory development and perceptual learning.

The Eberly Family shares its good fortune through a number of philanthropic vehicles, including The Eberly Foundation, The Eberly Family Charitable Trust and The Community Foundation of Fayette County. The Eberly Family Career Development Professorships of Biological Science support exceptional biological sciences faculty in MCS.

Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professorship and Head, Department of Biological Sciences
Veronica Hinman, Professor of Biological Sciences

Hinman joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 2006 after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Queensland and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. Hinman’s research focuses on the evolution of gene regulatory networks (GRNs), the complex pathways that control the expression of genes. She uses echinoderms, including starfish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins, as models to study how GRNs control cell fate during the early stages of development and how they are reused in regeneration. 

Hinman directs Echinobase, an open-access bioinformatics database that is the primary repository for genomic information on echinoderms. She also is a member of the Department of Computational Biology and Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology. 

Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz had a long association with Carnegie Mellon as a student, an educator and a scientist, earning his bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees at Carnegie Tech and serving as an administrative fellow at the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. He established the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professorship in Life Sciences in 2000. The professorship has historically gone to the head of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Falco DeBenedetti Career Development Professorship in Physics
Benjamin Hunt, Assistant Professor of Physics

Hunt joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty after earning his Ph.D. at Cornell University and completing postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An experimental condensed matter physicist, Hunt studies the complex behavior matter exhibits in the quantum limit, including in two-dimensional materials. Hunt has received an Early Career Award from the Department of Energy and a Cottrell Scholar Award.

Emma Falco DeBenedetti established the Falco-DeBenedetti Professorship in 2013 in memory of her husband, Sergio DeBenedetti. DeBenedetti joined Carnegie Tech in 1949 and taught and conducted research at Carnegie Tech and Carnegie Mellon until he retired in 1984.

Otto Stern Professorship of Physics
Curtis Meyer, Professor of Physics 

Meyer joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1993 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and completing postdoctoral work at the University of Zurich. A nuclear and particle physicist, Meyer furthers our understanding of quantum chromodynamics through his research on the nuclear matter that makes up the universe. He has conducted research at labs in the United States and Europe and has been the spokesperson for the GlueX experiment at Jefferson Lab in Newport News since 2007.

Curtis also serves as MCS’s first associate dean for research. He has previously served as the college’s associate dean for faculty and graduate affairs. He has won the college’s Julius Ashkin Teaching Award and the university’s William H. and Francis S. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching.

Otto Stern was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century, winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1943 for his discovery of the magnetic moment of the proton. Stern was a research professor of physics at Carnegie Tech.