LAWRENCE — Four faculty members at two Kansas universities were named recipients of the Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards, the state higher education system’s most prestigious recognition for scholarly excellence.
The annual awards are given in four categories of scholarly and creative achievement. This year’s honorees:
- Uwe Thumm, University Distinguished Professor of Physics, Kansas State University, recipient of the Olin Petefish Award in Basic Sciences
- Donna Ginther, Roy A. Roberts and Regents Distinguished Professor of Economics, KU, and director, Institute for Policy & Social Research, recipient of the Balfour Jeffrey Award in Humanities & Social Sciences
- Mark Shiflett, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, KU, and director, Institute for Sustainable Engineering, recipient of the Irvin Youngberg Award in Applied Sciences
- Timothy Musch, University Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology (College of Health and Human Sciences) and Physiology (College of Veterinary Medicine), Kansas State University, and director, Cardiorespiratory Exercise Lab, recipient of the Dolph Simons Award in Biomedical Sciences.
The four will be recognized in April along with recipients of other major KU research awards.
This is the 41st annual presentation of the Higuchi awards, established in 1981 by Takeru Higuchi, a distinguished professor at the University of Kansas from 1967 to 1983, his wife Aya, and the KU Endowment Association. The awards recognize exceptional long-term research accomplishments by faculty at Kansas Board of Regents universities. Each honoree receives $10,000 for their ongoing research.
The awards are named for former leaders of KU Endowment who helped recruit Higuchi to KU.
Olin Petefish Award in Basic Sciences
Uwe Thumm is a University Distinguished Professor of Physics at Kansas State University. He is internationally known for his scholarship in atomic, molecular, optical and surface physics.
His work includes understanding the interaction between light and matter in time and space. This basic research has implications for numerous technological fields, such as solar energy, and novel electro-optical detectors and computers.
Individually and with colleagues at the J. R. Macdonald Laboratory at K-State, Thumm has earned more than $50 million in research funding. He received the Senior Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, widely considered the highest German science award for researchers outside the country.
Thumm earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Freiburg.
Balfour Jeffrey Award in Humanities & Social Sciences
Donna Ginther is the Roy A. Roberts and Regents Distinguished Professor of Economics and director of KU’s Institute for Policy & Social Research. Her work broadly covers science policy, labor economics and economic demography.
She is best known for studying factors that promote or inhibit diversity, equity and inclusion in the sciences and academia. In 2011 and 2018, Ginther published papers showing racial disparities in funding from the National Institutes of Health, which later became known as the “Ginther gap.” This led to the creation of a task force and mentoring program at the agency to address these disparities.
She has served as the principal investigator or co-investigator on projects totaling more than $7 million.
Ginther earned a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Irvin Youngberg Award in Applied Sciences
Mark Shiflett is a Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering and director of the Institute for Sustainable Engineering at KU. His research involves developing environmentally safe chemical processes and products that are sustainable.
Currently, Shiflett is working on separation methods for recycling refrigerants with high global warming potential. Preventing the release of these refrigerants into the atmosphere through recycling has the potential to eliminate 175 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 50 million cars. His research group is also developing methods for removal of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water, processes for recycling critical metals used in lithium-ion batteries
, and techniques for storing vaccines without the need for refrigeration.
He has received more than $10 million in external funding in the past six years while at KU.
Shiflett earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.
Dolph Simons Award in Biomedical Sciences
Timothy Musch is a University Distinguished Professor and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Anatomy & Physiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Health & Human Sciences at Kansas State University. He studies exercise intolerance in patients with heart failure.
His research established how heart failure redistributes blood flow among muscles during exercise and the role of nitric oxide in post-heart failure exercise. This work has helped the NIH define a national strategy for effective exercise treatment for heart failure patients.
He has received more than $7 million in research funding as both principal investigator and co-investigator.
Musch earned a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular physiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
The award funds are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.