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Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2004

Four IU professors are 2004 Guggenheim Fellows

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Four Indiana University Bloomington professors have been awarded Guggenheim fellowships, the Guggenheim Foundation announced today (April 8).

Professor of Central Eurasian Studies Christopher Beckwith, Professor Emeritus of Folklore and Ethnomusicology Mary Ellen Brown, Professor of Biology Ellen Ketterson and Distinguished Professor of Biology Loren Rieseberg are among the 2004 fellowship winners.

The 80-year-old Guggenheim fellowships are given "on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment," to "men and women devoted to science and liberal studies, great teachers, creators of beauty, and generally to those devoted to pursuits that dignify, ennoble and delight mankind," according to the foundation.

An expert on birds' sexual behavior, Ketterson will use her Guggenheim grant to do something unusual -- bringing contemporary studies of human sexual behavior to bear on similar studies in other animals. Usually, scientists extrapolate in the other direction. Ketterson will examine whether human sex and gender concepts apply in songbirds. Studies she will begin later this year in South Dakota, Nevada, Costa Rica and Mexico will examine how geographic differences in songbird behavior and physiology relate to sex and, possibly, gender. Ketterson is a member of IU's Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior. She is also president of the Kinsey Institute's Board of Governors and has a part-time appointment in IUB's Gender Studies Program.

Rieseberg plans to use his Guggenheim grant to write The Origin and Evolution of Plant Species, a comprehensive, 11-chapter monograph that Rieseberg says will provide a much-needed update to plant biology texts currently available to botanical students and researchers. A leader in plant population genetics and evolution, Rieseberg plans to integrate much of his own scholarly work into the monograph. He also hopes the book will put to rest speculative and unsupported opinions about the nature of plant species as well as what types of evolutionary processes are likely to produce new species.

Beckwith, a world-renowned expert on the languages and early history of Central Eurasia, will use his Guggenheim award to write a comprehensive history of Central Eurasia, focusing on the nomadic steppe empires and their connection with Silk Road commerce and the development and spread of science and technology.

Folklorist Brown plans to revisit and recast the beloved English and Scottish ballads edited by 19th-century polymath Francis James Child. The Making of Francis James Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898) will be an ethnographic analysis of more than 33 manuscript volumes meant to reveal Child's working processes, premises, and the extent of his reliance on correspondence for texts, advice, and comparative data.

Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted about $228 million in fellowships to more than 15,000 Americans and U.S. resident aliens. Recent Guggenheim fellows among IU's total of 113 are biologist Rudolf Raff, poet Kevin Young and composer Claude Baker. IU has had at least one fellow each year since 1998.

Rieseberg also has been named to receive the first-ever Stebbins Medal by the Vienna, Austria-based International Association for Plant Taxonomy. The medal, which will be awarded at the May meeting of the International Organization of Plant Biosystematists in Valencia, Spain, recognizes the previous year's "outstanding article or book about plant systematics and evolution," according to IAPT secretary-treasurer Tod Stuessy. A committee of five professional plant evolutionary biologists awarded the honor to Rieseberg and coauthors of "Major ecological transitions in wild sunflowers facilitated by hybridization," published last year in the journal Science.

To speak with Beckwith, Brown, Ketterson or Rieseberg, contact David Bricker, IU Media Relations, at 812-856-9035 or