Faculty achievement awards go to Epstein, Johnson

Lee Epstein, whose research and teaching make key contributions to both Arts & Sciences and the School of Law, and Eugene M. Johnson Jr., whose work has had an enormous impact on the international neuroscience community, will receive the University’s annual faculty achievement awards.

Epstein, Ph.D., the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Political Science in Arts & Sciences and professor of law in the School of Law, is the winner of the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award.

Wrighton, Johnson and Epstein at the Chancellor's Gala
(From left) Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton visits with faculty achievement award-winners Eugene M. Johnson Jr. and Lee Epstein at the Chancellor’s Gala April 12 at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center. Wrighton announced the pair as the winners at the gala. – Photo by Mary Butkus

Johnson, Ph.D., the Norman J. Stupp Professor of Neurology and professor of molecular biology and pharmacology and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the School of Medicine, is the winner of the Carl and Gerty Cori Faculty Achievement Award.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton made the announcement at the Chancellor’s Gala April 12 at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center. The awards will be conferred at the Faculty Achievement Awards Program at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Eric P. Newman Education Center at the Medical Campus.

“Professors Epstein and Johnson are outstanding choices for this year’s faculty achievement awards,” Wrighton said. “Each has been recognized for their scholarly achievements by their colleagues and peers, and their career contributions thus far are truly exceptional.

“They join a distinguished group of earlier recipients of the awards. The University is fortunate to have such outstanding academic leaders as members of its community, and it is noteworthy, of course, that these awardees have been selected by distinguished members of the faculty. Such recognition by one’s peers is especially significant and prized.”

The selection committee for the awards includes three members each from Arts & Sciences and the medical school and one member from each of the University’s other six schools.

Criteria for selection are:

• Outstanding achievement in research and scholarship;

• Recognized prominence within the community of scholars;

• Service and dedication to the betterment of the University; and

• Respected accomplishment in teaching.

The awards include a $5,000 honorarium.

Epstein joined the political science department in 1991 and soon after became a full professor. From 1995-99, she served as department chair, and in 1998 she was named to the Mallinckrodt professorship.

In 2000, she received a dual appointment when she joined the law school.

Internationally recognized as a leading authority on courts, law and judicial politics, Epstein has authored, co-authored or edited 12 books, including award-winners The Supreme Court Compendium: Data, Decisions, and Developments and The Choices Justices Make.

In addition, Epstein is the recipient of seven grants from the National Science Foundation to support her research.

Contributing to her profession, Epstein serves as a member of the board of directors of the American Judicature Society and as a member of the board of trustees of the Law and Society Association. She sits on the editorial or advisory boards of several scholarly publications, and she currently serves as president of the Midwest Political Science Association.

As an active member of the University community, Epstein is on the Academic Planning Committee for the College of Arts & Sciences; the advisory boards for the law school’s Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies; and the University’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Hearing Committee.

Recognized for her inspiring and demanding role as a teacher, she was recently honored with the Faculty of the Year Award from Student Union and as Professor of the Year by the Undergraduate Political Science Association.

Johnson is internationally renowned for his research on the death of nervous-system cells during normal development and in response to disease.

In collaboration with Jeffrey D. Milbrandt, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and of pathology and immunology, Johnson’s team discovered three neurotrophic factors, which are molecules critical for the development and maintenance of the nervous system. With the ability to protect and restore nerve cells, these proteins may provide a basis for medically preventing and treating neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease.

Johnson’s research has also helped explain how nervous-system cells die without sufficient amounts of neurotrophic factors, as occurs during normal development. His team continues to study the biochemical and genetic mechanisms of this cell death and to examine pharmacological approaches to preventing nerve-cell death in neurological diseases.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1966 and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry in 1970, both from the University of Maryland. He joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1976.

In addition to his duties at the medical school, Johnson serves on several national editorial boards and committees, including the Medical and Scientific Council of the Alzheimer’s Association and the advisory council of the National Institute on Aging.

He has received many honors and awards, including six Distinguished Teaching Service Awards from the School of Medicine. He also received the MERIT Award of the National Institute on Aging and was named the Decade of the Brain Medalist by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.