UW News

April 22, 2024

Faculty/staff honors: Rising Star Award for DEI, honors for ornithological work, and more

Bronze 'W' statue in front of the University of Washington campus.

Recent recognition for the University of Washington includes a Rising Star Award, honors for distinguished ornithological work and a Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology.

Karen Thomas-Brown receives Rising Star Award

Karen Thomas-Brown, UW associate dean of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) for the College of Engineering, was given the Rising Star Award in March by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

NADOHE’s Inclusive Excellence Awards recognize and honor achievements and contributions to guide higher education toward inclusivity and institutional transformation through research, leadership or service.

“This award is a significant acknowledgment that the body of work we pursue in the Office of Inclusive Excellence is on point as it informs the policies and practices of the college as a whole and is relevant to research,” Thomas-Brown said.

The Rising Star honoree is a NADOHE member who has been a chief or senior diversity officer for at least three years but no more than 10 years. A nomination statement details the person’s contributions to advance the understanding of DEI in higher education.

Thomas-Brown leads the College of Engineering’s efforts to be an accessible, welcoming and inclusive community. The award recognizes her contributions to advancing DEI initiatives, including developing best practices and guidelines and working to implement programs that increase participation of underserved groups.

Thomas-Brown holds a doctorate in geography from the University of West Indies and certificates in DEI, change management and leadership from Cornell University.

Professor of biology honored for ‘distinguished ornithological work’

P. Dee Boersma, UW professor of biology, received the British Ornithological Union’s Godman-Salvin Prize during the Pacific Seabird Group’s annual conference banquet in February. BOU Council awards honor an individual’s distinguished ornithological work.

“To have the British honor me is high praise,” Boersma said. “I just hope we can reduce the impact of people on the natural world.”

Boersma was selected for excellence in scientific research, practical conservation, scientific monitoring and dissemination of science for public awareness. The committee particularly noted her devotion to documenting varying aspects of penguins’ lives and her contribution to understanding the conservation of all species.

Boersma directs the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels and is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature SSC Penguin Specialist Group. As a scientific fellow for the Wildlife Conservation Society, she also leads research on Magellanic Penguins.

Affiliate professor receives Gold Medal Award

Jennifer L. Freyd, UW affiliate professor of psychology and gender, women & sexuality studies, received a 2024 Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology from The American Psychological Foundation (APF). The award recognizes work that is impactful, innovative and transformational.

Freyd is known as a pioneer in the fields of trauma psychology and institutional courage. An activist in the realm of sexual violence, Freyd is also a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon and the founder and president of the Center for Institutional Courage. Her work has influenced approaches, policy frameworks, legal considerations and social attitudes.

“I am grateful for this award,” Freyd said in an APF release. “I am also hopeful that this acknowledgement will help in our efforts to investigate and prevent betrayal trauma and institutional betrayal while discovering how to nurture institutional courage.”

UW study named finalist for Cozzarelli Prize

A study from the UW was named a finalist for the 2023 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Cozzarelli Prize, which “acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality.”

The paper, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was written by lead author T.J. Clark-Wolf, assistant professor at Utah State and former UW postdoctoral researcher in the Abrahms Lab; senior author Briana Abrahms, assistant professor of biology; P. Dee Boersma, professor of biology; and Ginger Rebstock, research scientists/engineer of biology, using long-term data collected by the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels.

The paper focuses on how climate change will reshape ecosystems worldwide through short-term, extreme events and long-term changes. Ecologists call the short-term events “pulses” and the long-term changes “presses.” The study shows how different presses and pulses impacted Magellanic penguins — a migratory marine predator — over nearly four decades at their historically largest breeding site in Punta Tombo, Argentina.

“For conservation to be most effective, we need to know where, when and how to apply our limited resources,” Abrahms told UW News last year. “Information generated by this study tells us which climate effects we need to worry about and which ones we don’t — and therefore can help us focus on measures that we know will have a positive impact.”

Su-In Lee receives Ho-Am Prize in Engineering

Su-In Lee, UW professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, was selected as the 2024 Samsung Ho-Am Prize Laureate in Engineering for her pioneering contributions to the field of explainable artificial intelligence.

Established in 1990, the Ho-Am Prize honors people of Korean heritage who have contributed to academics, the arts and social development, or who have furthered the welfare of humanity in their respective field.

Lee is the first woman to receive the engineering prize.

Lee pioneered the innovative SHAP framework, revolutionizing the ability to interpret the results of machine learning models, along with subsequent algorithms. Her extensive contributions span foundational AI, computational molecular biology and clinical medicine.

Through her advancements in explainable AI technology, Lee has played a pivotal role in the development of clinical AI systems capable of predicting and elucidating various diagnoses and outcomes. Furthermore, her work has led to significant AI-driven discoveries aimed at enhancing our understanding of the origins and treatment of complex disease, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

“This is truly an extraordinary honor for me, and I’m profoundly grateful for the recognition,” Lee said. “Among countless deserving researchers, I feel deeply humbled to have been selected. Receiving an award of this magnitude entails not just privilege but also a significant responsibility. One of the most fulfilling aspects of my role as a faculty member and scientist is being able to serve as an inspiration for young individuals. As AI continues to revolutionize both science and society, my hope is that this achievement will inspire others to tackle crucial challenges aimed at enhancing science and health for all.”