Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Awards go to faculty at KU, Kansas State, Wichita State

Tue, 10/08/2013

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Kevin Boatright
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LAWRENCE – Four faculty members at three universities in Kansas have been named recipients of the state's most prestigious recognition for scholarly excellence: the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards. The four will be recognized Wednesday, Oct. 30, during a ceremony at the Lied Center of Kansas.

This is the 32nd annual presentation of the awards, established in 1981 by Takeru Higuchi, a distinguished professor at the University of Kansas from 1967 to 1983, and his wife, Aya. The awards recognize the exceptional long-term research accomplishments of faculty at Kansas Board of Regents universities. Each award includes a citation and a $10,000 award for ongoing research efforts. The money can be used for research materials, summer salaries, fellowship matching funds, hiring research assistants or other support related to research.

This year's recipients are William Barnett, Oswald Distinguished Professor of Macroeconomics in the Department of Economics, KU; William Groutas, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Wichita State University; Siyuan Han, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, KU; and Mary Beth Kirkham, Professor in the Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University.

Awards are given in four categories: humanities and social sciences, basic sciences, biomedical sciences and applied sciences. Each award is named for former leaders of KU Endowment who played key roles in recruiting Higuchi to KU. Their financial support of KU helped enhance university research throughout the state of Kansas.

This marks the second time an award has gone to a Wichita State faculty member. Ramesh K. Agarwal, formerly professor of aerospace engineering, was recognized in the applied sciences category in 1998.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will speak at the presentation ceremony. She will be joined by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeff Vitter and Vice Chancellor of Research and Graduate Studies Steve Warren. Past Higuchi Award recipients who attend will also be recognized.

This year's recipients of Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards:

Balfour Jeffrey Award in Humanities and Social Sciences

William BarnettWilliam Barnett is the world’s leading figure in the study of methods for the accurate measurement of monetary and financial aggregates, an essential component of monetary policy by the world’s central banks. Barnett came to KU in 2002 from Washington University in St. Louis, and he was previously the Stuart Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. His academic background includes a Bachelor of Science from M.I.T., an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts and doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University.

Dolph Simons Award in Biomedical Sciences

William GroutasWilliam Groutas is internationally known for his work combating such diseases as West Nile virus, Dengue virus, norovirus and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He came to Wichita State as an assistant professor in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Groutas became a professor in 1987 and was named a distinguished professor in 1991. His academic background includes a Bachelor of Science and diploma in education from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and a doctorate from the University of Kentucky. He served as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University.

Olin Petefish Award in Basic Science

Siyuan Han is one of the world’s leading researchers in quantum computing, especially the development of superconducting devices. Practical quantum computing based on qubits (quantum bits) is in its infancy but will increase computing speed tremendously, enabling scientists to solve certain extremely hard problems. Han came to KU as an associate professor in 1997 from Stony Brook University and became a professor in 2003. His academic background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Science and Technology of China and a doctorate from Iowa State University.

Irvin Youngberg Award for Applied Sciences

Mary Beth KirkhamMary Beth Kirkham is an international authority on the plant-water relations of winter wheat and the uptake of heavy metals by crops grown on polluted soil. She was the first to document the effects of elevated levels of carbon dioxide on crops grown under semi-arid conditions. Kirkham came to Kansas State in 1980 following faculty appointments at Oklahoma State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Attendance at the Oct. 30 ceremony is by invitation. More information about the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Awards is available online.

The fund is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.



This past spring, KU welcomed world-renowned paleontologist, K. Christopher Beard, to the Jayhawk family. Beard joined one of the nation's top institutions in natural history, evolutionary biology, and biodiversity studies and a group of researchers among the top in their fields. “I have worked with a number of KU graduates over the years, so I am very familiar with the quality of the program. I have been greatly impressed with the positive, collaborative environment." To learn more about KU's Biodiversity Institue and Natural History Museum go here: http://biodiversity.ku.edu/ Tags: KU Natural History Museum #KUdifference #Biology #NaturalHistory #Science

KU students grow algae for biofuel, cleaner water KU's "Feedstock to Tailpipe Initiative" (see http://www.cebc.ku.edu/RET-2014) is working on a project that starts with algae. Researchers are demonstrating how community wastewater operations can add a large-scale, algae-growing facility that will not only return cleaner air and water back to nature, but also provide a sustainable source for biodiesel fuel.


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