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  April 21, 2003

Five Faculty Selected For University's Highest Honor

Five faculty who have achieved exceptional distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service have been named Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors.

The faculty are: Gary English, professor of dramatic arts; Deborah Fein, professor of psychology; Debra Kendall, professor of molecular and cell biology; Philip Marcus, professor of molecular and cell biology and Robert Weiss, professor of chemical engineering. They were honored April 15 at a reception and ceremony at the Bishop Center.

"These professors have made extraordinary contributions to the University and their respective fields," says Chancellor John Petersen. "They are most deserving of this recognition."

The program, designed to honor some of UConn's top professors each year, was proposed in the University's Strategic Plan in 1995 and created by the Board of Trustees in 1998. It permits the chosen professors to use for life the title Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, the highest academic title a UConn professor can attain. No more than five percent of active faculty can hold the title at any one time. Retired faculty may continute to use the title but are not included in the five percent limit.

English, a stage designer with creative work in regional theater, Broadway, off-Broadway, television, and university theater has achieved national and international recognition in his field.

In 1993, he became head of the department of dramatic arts and founded the Connecticut Repertory Theatre. He was recently elected to the National Theatre Conference, and is currently serving his second term as President of the University Resident Theatre Association.

English served 10 years on the University Senate, six years with the Senate Executive Committee and two years as faculty representative to the Board of Trustees. He was interim dean of the School of Fine Arts, has been chair of the Senate Curricula and Courses Committee, and is serving on the Academic Plan Task Force.

Fein is considered a pioneer in the study of autistic disorders and one of the leading pediatric neuropsychologists in the nation. She has been conducting research on autism for about 25 years.

Fein has put UConn on the national and international map as a center for research and training in childhood developmental disorders. She has obtained more than $7.5 million in grant support during her career, and recently received a National Institutes of Health grant for the early detection of pervasive developmental disorders.

She received the UConn Alumni Association Teaching excellence Award in 1999.

Kendall studies the structural properties of membrane proteins, which are integral to their biological function. Her research has received external funding totaling about $3 million. In 1996, she received a National Science Foundation Career Advancement Award. She is a highly sought-after member of national review panels for NIH.

In 2001, Kendall received the AAUP Reward for Service Excellence for her work with the Health Center in the Post Baccalaureate Program.

Marcus, a distinguished virologist, is a leader in the field of interferon. Much of his scientific work has been devoted to interferons, which are commonly used in treatment of various illnesses including certain cancers. Peers consider him a pioneer in the field, especially in the connections between interferon action and resistance to viral infection. His contributions have had a major impact on the development of the field.

Marcus is interim director of the Biotechnology Center. He has served as chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee since its federally mandated inception in 1978. For the past 18 years, he has been editor-in-chief of the Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research. Marcus has 13 professional publications and more than 1,600 citations in the past five years alone.

Weiss's research has centered on ionomers - ion-containing polymers, liquid crystalline polymers, and polymer blends. He is a leader in the field and is frequently invited to speak at national and international conferences on these subjects. He is known for his important breakthrough in characterization of ionomer structure.

Weiss is the author of 15 patents and more than 300 research papers, book chapters and conference papers. He is a Fellow of three societies, including the American Physical Society and the Society of Plastics Engineers. In 2002, he was the recipient of the International Research Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers.