An internationally recognized microorganism researcher and an expert in health-related communication are recipients of this year’s University of Florida Foundation Preeminence Term Professorships. The professorships recognize the extraordinary accomplishments and prestige the awardees bring to the university and are accompanied with a cash award to advance their research.
Julie Maupin-Furlow and Janice Krieger will each receive $25,000 to hire research assistants, purchase equipment, participate in special training, collaborate on work and invest in other means of support that enhance their research. Maupin-Furlow is pioneering the use of microorganisms to create biofuels and chemicals. Krieger is focused on making scientific research more accessible and understandable for the general public. They were selected to receive the Preeminence Term Professorships from a pool of UF’s top faculty members who were nominated by their deans.
Maupin-Furlow, a microbiology and cell science professor in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, concentrates her research on microorganisms that thrive in hot springs and other severe environments once thought uninhabitable. Her research has helped scientists better understand the molecular mechanisms that are fundamental to all life. Her discoveries are also generating new biocatalysts that can be used to produce renewable fuels.
Krieger is director of UF’s STEM Translational Communications Program in the College of Journalism and Communications. Her research looks at how to best share complex information with laypeople and on informed decision-making at the intersection of health and science – for example, explaining to people how and why medical recommendations change so doctors maintain credibility.
“The heart and soul of a university is its faculty — the men and women who come to work each day to share their knowledge with tomorrow’s leaders and to search for ways to enhance our lives,” UF Provost Joe Glover said. “Julie and Janice exemplify that through their research and dedication to their disciplines. These term professorships provide funding that will help them address real-life issues.”
Endowed term professorships are representative of UF’s commitment to, and investment in, faculty members whose work is transforming lives. Such endowments are a cornerstone in UF’s aspiration to be among the best public universities, because they provide additional funding for projects and help UF retain and recruit the most talented professors. Maupin-Furlow and Krieger are the fifth and sixth Preeminence Term Professorships winners. Last year, medicinal chemistry professor Hendrik Luesch and associate sociology professor Stephen Perz were honored. And in 2013, diabetes researcher Mark Atkinson and chemical engineer Fan Ren were the winners.
“It’s amazing to me what our faculty accomplish, a lot of it seemingly through pure will. Imagine what they can do with more funding to support their work,” said UF Foundation Chair Scott Hawkins. “That’s the reason for these professorships. We want to give our faculty the tools to make amazing happen.”