Four researchers named recipients of University Scholarly Achievement Award

LAWRENCE — Four midcareer faculty members at the University of Kansas will receive an award in recognition of their significant research or scholarly achievements in their field.

The University Scholarly Achievement Award recognizes truly outstanding scholarly or research contributions, with one award given each year in each of four categories: arts and humanities; medicine and clinical sciences; science, technology and mathematics; and social science and professional programs.

This year’s winners in each category are as follows:

  • Erik Scott, Department of History (arts & humanities)
  • Sandra Billinger, Department of Neurology (medicine and clinical science)
  • Timothy Jackson, Department of Chemistry (science, technology and mathematics)
  • Jeffrey Hall, Department of Communication Studies (social science and professional programs)

“These four scholars have all helped to elevate our university through their work, and I look forward to helping them celebrate their successes,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “Taken together, these faculty members and their inspiring achievements demonstrate the breadth and depth of the contributions to society that are possible through the work of one of America’s leading research universities.”

A panel chaired by Karrie Shogren, the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor of Special Education in the KU School of Education & Human Sciences, reviewed the nominations from colleagues at KU and across the nation.

These four winners — along with the winners of other annual research awards — will be honored at the University Research Awards ceremony April 25. The event will be hosted by the chancellor, and all faculty and staff are invited to attend to help celebrate the university’s top researchers from both the Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses.

Additional information about each of this year’s recipients and their work from the nomination materials is below.

Erik Scott

Erik Scott

Erik Scott, associate professor of history, is one of the most accomplished and original historians of Russia of his generation. His first book, titled “Familiar Strangers,” focused on the experience of Georgians living outside their homeland. Despite its narrow focus — or perhaps because of it — "Familiar Strangers” has become a key text for historians working to understand how people adapt to different ethno-territorial environments.

His second book, to be published by Oxford University Press in June 2023, is titled “World Without Exit: Soviet Cold War Defectors and the Borders of Globalization.” Telling the story of the Cold War through the personal stories of those who defected, it is both a brilliant rethinking of the Cold War and the first-ever history of defectors.

Sandra Billinger

Sandra Billinger

Billinger is an internationally recognized pioneer and research leader in post-stroke clinical exercise testing and prescription. Her work has changed clinical practice paradigms at KU Medical Center and internationally, including substantial work in Singapore. 

Billinger was recognized by the World Stroke Organization as one of 30 women globally as part of their Women in Stroke leadership recognition initiative. She is the only American physical therapist invited as a writing group member for the Canadian guidelines for exercise post-stroke in 2011 and updated in 2019. She was recently included in a newly formed physical activity workgroup within the International Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Alliance with a goal of codifying the first global, stroke-specific guidelines for physical activity and exercise after stroke, and she is working with colleagues in Singapore and their Ministry of Health to implement aerobic guidelines post-stroke nationally.

She has over 100 publications; two of these publications have over 1,000 citations each. Her letter writers describe her as “one of the five most accomplished PT-PhDs in the world” and a “force of nature.”

Timothy Jackson

Timothy Jackson

Timothy Jackson is an outstanding, internationally recognized scholar who works in biomimetic transition metal chemistry. Jackson’s research has made a significant impact at the interface of chemical catalysis and chemical biology, utilizing metalloenzymes (nature’s highly refined catalysts) as biomimics for small molecule catalysts to harness environmentally taxing industrial chemical processes in an energy efficient and atom-economical fashion. His research synergistically uses synthetic, spectroscopic and computational approaches to advance biomimetic chemistry, ultimately addressing the critical challenges of finding new-generation catalysts for the synthesis of a variety of industrially and pharmaceutically important chemicals. In addition to his strong funding track record and significant scientific contributions, his continuous dedication to teaching and mentoring excellence is noteworthy. 

Jeffrey Hall

Jeff Hall

Hall’s research focuses on interpersonal communication and human communication and technology, including the role of communication in creating, managing and enhancing relationships and the implications of technology-mediated communication on human society. One of his nominators described his scholarship as opening “an entirely new research trajectory for the field of communication.” Another noted that his work is prolific, impactful and is “shaping the way researchers and practitioners study interpersonal communication.”

He has written or co-written over 80 articles and book chapters and written two books.  His work has been cited over 1,400 times and has been referenced by multiple media outlets. His most recent book, “Relating Through Technology,” has been described as one of the most important books in the area. His work has been funded through internal grants at KU, and he has received multiple awards for his publications from national and international professional organizations. He is also the founding editor-in-chief of the Human Communication & Technology journal.

Tue, 03/28/2023


Joe Monaco

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Joe Monaco

KU Office of Public Affairs