Andy Hyland
Office of Public Affairs

Four researchers receive University Scholarly Achievement Awards honoring midcareer faculty

Mon, 04/13/2020

LAWRENCE — Four midcareer faculty members at the University of Kansas have earned an award recognizing their significant scholarly achievements and research contributions to their field.

The University Scholarly Achievement Award recognizes either a truly outstanding single scholarly or research contribution or a series of closely related contributions. A panel chaired by Joy Ward, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology, reviewed nominations for the awards from research colleagues at KU and across the nation.

This year’s winners:

  • Sarah Finocchario Kessler, associate professor of family medicine and community health at KU Medical Center
  • Stuart Macdonald, professor of molecular biosciences
  • Laura Mielke, Dean’s Professor of English
  • Karrie Shogren, professor of special education and senior scientist in KU’s Life Span Institute

“As our entire planet rises to address an unprecedented challenge in fighting COVID-19, we’ve all been reminded of the important role that leading research universities can play in improving our lives,” Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said. “The contributions of these four scholars are inspiring and cover a wide range of areas of study. Taken together, these efforts demonstrate the value of work that can have an impact far beyond our campuses, and I congratulate them on their achievements.”

The recipients were to be presented with their awards during a University Research Awards presentation in April, but that event will not be held as scheduled due to concerns related to COVID-19. Additional details about the event will be announced at a later date.

This year’s recipients have made major contributions to their respective fields:

Sarah Finocchario Kessler

Kessler’s research combines interests in global health, reproductive health and HIV to improve safer childbearing for people living with HIV. Her active studies in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania focus on safer conception strategies and e-health systems like the HIV Infant Tracking System (HITSystem) to support expedited diagnosis, treatment initiation and retention among pregnant women living with HIV and their infants. She is also partnering to develop alternative HIV drug delivery mechanisms ideal for infants to enhance medication adherence and survival.

Stuart Macdonald

Macdonald’s work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for many years, and it focuses on the area of quantitative genetics and genomics. His lab has recently focused on how genetic differences among individuals can affect their ability to deal with environmental toxins. His work with genetics and fruit flies has biomedical applications and can help us understand complex human genetic traits and diseases. He is a productive researcher in his discipline, having published more than 40 scientific papers and book chapters since 1999.

Laura Mielke

Mielke’s research focuses on politics and performance in American literature and culture from the late 18th century through the mid-19th century. Her most recent book focuses on the relationship between theatre and the antislavery movement in antebellum America. Her scholarship combines performance studies and critical race theory, and it relies on methodologies including close reading, archival research and digital editing. Her record of scholarship has given her an international reputation in the field of 19th century race and performance studies, and she serves as a mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students interested in her field of research.

Karrie Shogren

Shogren’s research focuses on self-determination and systems of support for people with disabilities. She has been an early contributor to theory and research in the application of self-determination to the education of learners with disabilities to enhance in school and post-school outcomes. She is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of special education, and she has published more than 160 peer-reviewed journal articles and is a co-author or co-editor on 18 books published or in production.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today