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Distinguished University Professorship Lectures

February 8, 2022, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm EST

The Distinguished University Professorships recognize senior faculty with exceptional scholarly and/or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence, and superior records of teaching, mentoring, and service. At this virtual event, three recipients will present on their career work and answer audience questions.


Nancy G. Love, JoAnn Silverstein Distinguished University Professor of Environmental Engineering, Borchardt and Glysson Collegiate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering

Nancy G. Love has advised over 70 graduate students and postdoctoral research associates. In collaboration with her students, Love works at the interface of water, infrastructure, and public health in both domestic and global settings. The group advances public and environmental health using chemical, biological, and computational approaches applied to water systems, and translates fundamental understanding into practical solutions in partnership with communities. She has co-authored over 125 peer reviewed papers, chapters, and reports; over 275 conference presentations; and a textbook on biological wastewater treatment. Love has held leadership positions in multiple organizations, including with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the International Water Association (IWA), and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP). She is a fellow of all three organizations. Love is a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) in the state of Michigan and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE).

“Moving Outside the Fence: Achieving Sustainable and Equitable Access to High Quality Water Services”
This talk will focus on Love’s career-long emphasis on the effectiveness and limitations of water treatment approaches used to provide high quality drinking water and sanitation services in both the U.S. and in the urban settings of low income countries. Her group uses both advanced biological and chemical methods to understand how well existing or developing water treatment technologies are performing and how they meet water quality and sustainability goals. However, the most innovative and functional solutions that create sustainable and equitable water system services require social-technical approaches. To do this, stakeholders and other partners must be deeply engaged in the work from the beginning, most studies will be conducted outside of university labs, and our research team members must develop robust science communication skills in addition to their deep scientific and engineering know-how. Love will trace how this transformation has occurred over her career and how the water technology approaches we have worked on address sustainability and equity more broadly.


Arthur Lupia, Gerald R. Ford Distinguished University Professor of Political Science, Professor of Political Science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Arthur Lupia’s research examines how people make decisions when they lack information. His areas of expertise include information processing, coalition building, and strategic communication. He has led or worked with a wide range of scientific and public organizations to improve quality of life through better management strategies and more effective communication. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Strategic Council for Research Excellence, Integrity, and Trust. He was co-chair of the Subcommittee on Open Science for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (2019-2021) and Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (2018-2022), where he developed new ways for NSF to better serve the nation. Lupia’s professional honors include the National Academy of Science’s Award for Innovation in Research (1998), and being named a Guggenheim Fellow (2007), and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2015). He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007) and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2004). At the University of Michigan, he won the President’s Award for Public Impact (2017) and the Individual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education (2014). His Ph.D. is from the California Institute of Technology (1991) and he has been a proud U-M faculty member since 2001.

“The Public Value of Science in an Era of Misinformation”
As individuals, communities, and nations, our quality of life depends on our ability to base decisions on reliable information. While the emergence of new forms of mass communication increases opportunities for sharing information, it also creates new opportunities to spread misinformation. In this lecture, Lupia describes opportunities and challenges for people who seek to help others use science to improve quality of life for themselves and others.


Donald R. Zak, Alexander H. Smith Distinguished University Professor of Ecology, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, School for Environment and Sustainability, and Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Donald R. Zak served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota in 1988. His research has elucidated connections between the composition and function of soil microbial communities and the importance of microbial activity in regulating ecosystem-level processes, especially in response to global environmental change. He has authored over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and has mentored 11 postdoctoral scholars, 14 doctoral students, 21 master’s students, and 6 undergraduate honors students. Zak has been appointed to the editorial boards of Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Ecological Applications, and Soil Science Society of America Journal, and he is currently principal investigator on grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. He was named the Francis Clark Distinguished Lecturer in 2010, an award given by the Soil Science Society of American for research excellence. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the Ecological Society of America, for outstanding contributions to the fields of terrestrial and microbial ecology.

“Soil Microbial Communities and the Future Functioning of Terrestrial Ecosystems”
Microorganisms mediate an array of biochemical processes in soil, interact with one another in a biologically diverse community and, in turn, mediate biogeochemical cycles that are of global importance. Understanding how composition and function are linked in soil microbial communities remains a contemporary challenge and developing this understanding can reveal the molecular mechanisms underlying many biogeochemical processes. In this presentation, Zak will discuss how microbial community function can be contingent on community composition and the potential implications of this relationship on the future functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Further, Zak will discuss the ways in which a changing environment can modify the ecological constraints on soil microbial communities, the compositional and functional responses that result, and identify gaps in our knowledge of soil microbial communities that limit our ability to anticipate the response of biogeochemical cycles to global environmental change.

Register for this event. A livestream link will be provided to those who register to attend virtually.


February 8, 2022
3:00 pm to 4:30 pm EST


Amphitheatre, 4th Floor, Rackham Building
915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 United States
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Event Type
Lecture / Discussion