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Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Five IU professors promoted to distinguished rank

EDITOR'S NOTE: A complete list of Indiana University Distinguished Professors, along with titled professors and additional information, is available online.

Feb. 18, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Five professors from Indiana University Bloomington and the IU School of Medicine on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus have been promoted to the distinguished rank: David Burr, professor of anatomy and cell biology; Edward G. Carmines, Warner O. Chapman Professor and James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science; Keith Clay, professor of biology; Nets Katz; professor of mathematics; and Mervin Yoder, professor of pediatrics.

The rank of distinguished professor, the most prestigious academic appointment Indiana University can bestow upon its faculty, was created by the IU Board of Trustees in 1967. The title is conferred by the university president with approval of the board.

"A world-class research university begins with a world-class faculty who push the boundaries of knowledge and discovery through path-breaking scholarship and research," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Indiana University's distinguished professors, including our five newest inductees, are recognized as national and international leaders by their peers and have made outstanding and fundamental contributions in their disciplines that have been widely recognized and applauded."

The distinguished professorship typically recognizes faculty who have pioneered or substantially transformed their field, garnering international recognition for their work. Nominations are made each year by faculty, alumni and students, among others, identifying outstanding scholarship, artistic or literary distinction, or other achievements that have won significant recognition by peers.

Nomination materials are reviewed by the University Distinguished Ranks Committee, whose members forward up to five candidates to the president. Upon review and agreement, the president sends the names to the trustees for official action.

The new distinguished professors will be recognized formally at an event this April -- along with other university teaching award winners yet to be announced -- as part of the festivities marking the anniversary of IU's founding in 1820. McRobbie will preside over the faculty recognition banquet, which includes a reception, musical entertainment and a dinner for honored faculty and their guests.

Brief biographies of IU's new distinguished professors follow. Longer versions will be available online in April, along with those of the university's teaching award winners.

David Burr, professor of anatomy and cell biology

David Burr

Erik Markov/ IU Communications

David Burr

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David Burr is described by a Fellow of the Royal Society of London as "the world's leading authority on the relationship between bone structure and function and its relation to physiology and disease." He is widely acclaimed for two broad areas of investigation: the significance of skeletal micro-damage to bone health and metabolism and the adverse effects (fragility and fracture) of current treatments for osteoporosis. His research was instrumental in the 2011 decision by the FDA to require warning labels on products shown to result in atypical fractures, has redefined what is taught to future scientists about cellular communication in bone, and has alerted physicians to debilitating side effects, changing how therapies are performed.

One letter attested that, "Dave's paradigm has emerged as the scientific consensus," and another wrote that his contributions "have changed the way the scientific community views skeletal health and disease."

His work drives the reputation of IU as a world-class center of excellence in musculoskeletal biology. Burr, who joined the IU School of Medicine faculty in 1990, has attracted more than $16 million in extramural funding during his time at IU and has amassed the "strongest bone research group -- unsurpassed in breadth and depth -- of any institution in the United States." Burr (B.A., '73, Beloit College; M.A., '74, University of Colorado; Ph.D., '77, University of Colorado) is an adjunct professor of anthropology and professor of biomedical engineering at IUPUI.

Edward G. Carmines, Warner O. Chapman Professor and James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science

Edward Carmines

Chris Meyer/IU Communications

Edward Carmines

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Edward G. Carmines is a widely respected scholar whose research focuses on elections, public opinion and political behavior. An IU Bloomington faculty member since 1975, he is Warner O. Chapman Professor and James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is director of the Center on American Politics and research director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

Carmines is the co-author of six books, two of which, "Issue Evolution: Race and Transformation of American Politics" and "Reaching Beyond Race," received special recognition from the American Political Science Association. He has published widely in major journals and is currently conducting research projects on citizens' ideology, attitudes and behavior in a partisan era, public evaluations of Congress and the role of policy issues in national elections.

Carmines (B.A., '68, Old Dominion University; M.A., '72, College of William and Mary; Ph.D., 75, State University of New York at Buffalo) is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been a visiting professor at the University of Oxford and a fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University.

Keith Clay, professor of biology

Keith Clay

Chris Meyer/IU Communications

Keith Clay

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For more than 80 years, ecologists believed competition was the driver of terrestrial ecosystems, but Clay is the biologist who changed that way of thinking when in 1988 he first began publishing research on the symbiotic relationship between plants and fungi and their provisions for defensive mutualism. The work has since been recognized as having identified the profound effects this relationship has on plant community structures from forests to savannahs.

His work has always focused on how specific symbiotic interactions affect larger-scale ecological and evolutionary processes, branching out from plant-to-plant interactions and evolution to soil pathogen influences on plant species mortality in temperate forests, the ecology of the 17-year cicada eruption in southern Indiana, and the interactions of ticks and micro-organisms that reside in their guts.

As director of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve -- seven properties totaling over 1,500 acres and a 6,000-square-foot lab that was IU's first Silver LEED certified building -- since it was founded in 2001, Clay (B.S., '77, Rutgers College; Ph.D., '82, Duke University) promotes hands-on research and exudes a commitment to outreach that includes Indiana's elementary and high school students. But one example is his production of the acclaimed educational video "Return of the Cicadas," funded by the National Science Foundation and made available with complementary educational materials to every high school in Indiana. The Department of Biology is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Nets H. Katz, professor of mathematics

A college graduate at age 17, a Ph.D. recipient three years later and currently Indiana University's latest Guggenheim fellow, Katz is considered one of the world's leading researchers in the field of combinatorics, the study of finite or countable discrete structures. The field influences other areas of research in computer science, drug discovery and robotics.

Within a year Katz , working with others, advanced the cap set problem in additive combinatorics and also resolved a 65-year-old problem -- the Erdös distance problem -- in combinatorial geometry that sought to determine the minimum number of distinct distances between any finite set of points in a plane. The Department of Mathematics is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

A past winner of the Fields Medal said Katz (B.S., '90, Rice University; Ph.D., '93, University of Pennsylvania) has had a major impact on the field in several different areas, from harmonic analysis and geometric measure theory to arithmetic combinatorics and analysis of partial differential equations.

"He is an independent and original thinker and has shown the ability to come up with new, interesting ideas in different areas of mainstream research and leave a mark," the Fields Medal winner said. "Several of his papers had unexpected impacts and turned out to be influential in much wider circles."

Mervin C. Yoder, Richard and Pauline Klingler Professor of Pediatrics

Mervin Yoder, Jr.

Erik Markov/ IU Communications

Mervin C. Yoder

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Mervin C. Yoder's research has yielded new insight into the way stem cells are generated, fundamentally changing the way researchers think within the field. A secondary research area led to the discovery of a hierarchy of another type of rare cell, which affected the way researchers think about cell analysis for cardiovascular and other diseases.

He joined the IU School of Medicine as assistant professor of pediatrics in 1985 and is now professor of pediatrics and biochemistry and molecular biology. Yoder is also director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, associate chairman for basic research within the Department of Pediatrics and, since 2011, has served as assistant dean for entrepreneurial research at the school as well as associate director for entrepreneurship at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Yoder (B.A., '75, Malone College; M.A., '76, Indiana State University; M.D., '80, IU School of Medicine) has published hundreds of refereed publications, review articles and book chapters, and has mentored postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate research students. He owns one patent and founded biotechnology firm EndGenitor Technologies Inc.