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February 3, 2016

7 professors join rank of Regents' Professors

There are many bright stars in Arizona State University's universe, and a handful of the brightest will be honored Thursday, Feb. 4, at the 2016 Regents' Professors Induction Ceremony in Tempe.

Regents’ Professor is the highest faculty honor and goes to full professors from one of the three Arizona public universities whose exceptional achievements have brought them national or international distinction. With the latest additions, ASU has a total of 83 Regents’ Professors.

The seven newest will be recognized at a ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Evelyn Smith Music Theater on the Tempe campus. Here is a glimpse into their fields, passions and expertise.

 

Stephen Bokenkamp 

Stephen R. Bokenkamp, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Stephen Bokenkamp was a pacifist during the height of the Vietnam War, so he lobbied with recruiters to serve in a capacity that didn't involve combat. The result made him a spy and set him on a path to become an expert of Chinese culture.

Bokenkamp said he has enjoyed his eight years at ASU, which have challenged him intellectually and professionally. He recently won a Guggenheim award for translation work on his new book, “Zhen’gao” or “Declarations of the Perfected,” a sixth-century Chinese book of celestially revealed material.

“When I came to this university, President Crow said I’d be doing things I’d never done before, and he was right,” Bokenkamp said. “This has been a stimulating place to be.”

 

portrait of ASU professor Janet Franklin

Janet Franklin, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Janet Franklin, a professor in the ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, fuses disciplines of geography and biology by studying the climate and topographical changes.

She said the honor of being named Regents' Professor has left her “flattered, honored, surprised and humbled.”

“This has been a big year,” Franklin said. “I’m the kind of scientist who has been quietly doing my work for three decades. I never expected this kind of recognition. It feels pretty nice.”

 

A woman with long hair poses for a portrait.

Petra Fromme, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Petra Fromme, a world expert on proteins, has been a pioneer in using new technology to research their molecular structure. As director of the new Center for Applied Structural Discovery at the Biodesign Institute, she leads 12 faculty and their students from different disciplines studying the structure and dynamics of proteins, potentially leading to improved manmade technologies. 

She feels her appointment as Regents’ Professor will boost the center’s profile.

“I think it will increase the visibility of the center and attract students who would otherwise do their PhD at Harvard or Yale,” she said.

 

Geotechnical engineer Edward Kavazanjian

Edward Kavazanjian Jr., Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Engineering professor Edward Kavazanjian has excelled as a teacher, researcher and leader among professional colleagues — and he’s still striving to make major contributions to his field.

In nominating Kavazanjian for the designation, fellow ASU engineering Regents’ Professor Bruce Rittmann noted Kavanzanjian’s ability to “engage, challenge and excite graduate and undergraduate students, while providing national and international leadership at the forefront of geotechnical engineering.”

“Bringing new insights to students and seeing how that opens up their perspective on the important work they could do as engineers is why I love teaching,” Kavazanjian said. “Nothing has been as personally rewarding as seeing some of my former students succeed professionally and become my professional colleagues and closest friends.”

 

portrait of Flavio Marsiglia

Flavio F. Marsiglia, College of Public Service and Community Solutions

Flavio Marsiglia's work on diversity, substance use and youth development is regarded to be among the best and most influential in the field, and it's why he was named as a Regents' Professor.

“Flavio is doing research that is exceptional in every sense,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “He is an internationally recognized expert on health disparities and minority health research who has not only brought innovative ideas to the forefront, he has brought communities together to enact solutions.”

“Most kids do not use alcohol or other drugs, and we as a society tend to focus on the ones who do,” Marsiglia said. “We do, however, need to educate and equip all youth with tools for prevention. Above all else, I want to be an advocate for prevention.”

 

Robert Page

Robert Page, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Robert Page, an expert in honeybee genetics, was the founding director of the School of Life Sciences and is the former provost. Page calls the Regents' Professor honor “icing on the cake” and is proud of the recognition of his research.

Through the decades of administration, Page has maintained his work with the honeybees. In 2013, he released the book “The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution,” summarizing his lifetime of research.

“I teach the students fundamental biology and behavior of bees and how we take that knowledge and change their behavior to benefit us, so we can profit from their honey and the pollination services they provide," Page said.

“I’ve turned a lot of kids on to bees.”

 

BL Turner II

B.L. Turner II, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

It doesn’t take long to figure out why B.L. Turner II is a pioneer in the field of sustainability science or why ASU has recently named him a Regents’ Professor. His work has changed the way communities and countries are thinking about the environment and climate change.

Turner was instrumental in founding ASU’s interdisciplinary School of Sustainability, was one of the first researchers to use data to better understand how humans affect the landscape and the implications for the environment.

"I’m very satisfied with what I do and I love what I do. So if you can do what you love doing, people will recognize that what you did is very valuable to you," Turner said. "I enjoy and deeply appreciate the recognition comes along with being a Regents’ Professor."

 
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ASU's world-renowned honeybee expert is honored for a lifetime of research.
ASU Regents' Prof: From a student without a plan to a world-renowned bee expert.
February 3, 2016

Regents' Professor Robert Page honored for work on honeybee genetics

Robert Page has ascended to the top of his field and earned the highest faculty honor in the state.

Not bad for a man who started his academic career without a plan.

Page, an expert in honeybee genetics and the founding director of the School of Life Sciences and the former provost at Arizona State University, will be inducted as a Regents' Professor on Thursday — an honor for those professors who have made pioneering contributions in research and who have earned national and international recognition for their accomplishments. He is Foundation Chair in Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“It was purely accidental. I had no plan,” Page (pictured above) said of his start.

Page, who started a neighborhood “biology club” as a child, intended to be a biologist while he was an undergraduate at San Jose State University. Then he took an entomology course as an elective and found it fascinating. So he took another and another and ended up changing his major. He wrote a paper on the mating habits of a rare beetle that was published in a journal while he was still an undergraduate.

After earning a degree in entomology, and with some GI BillPage lost his draft deferment as a freshman and spent four years in the Army, attending Officer Candidate School, before resuming his education. He credits his military training for his leadership skills. benefits remaining, he got into the University of California at Davis, outside of Sacramento. It was the only school he applied to.

“I showed up as a graduate student without a real clue,” he said.

At UC-Davis, he found mentorship, inspiration and friendship with four professorsRobert Metcalf, Harry Laidlow, Timothy Prout and Norman Gary (who also worked as a “bee wrangler” in movies)., who were experts in the genetics, behavior and evolution of honeybees.

Page worked in the bee lab at UC-Davis as a teaching assistant and became fascinated with the social behavior of the insects.

“I merged it all together, and that became what I did and still defines what I do today,” said Page, who has authored more than 230 research papers and articles about the genetics and evolution of social organization, sex determination and division of labor in honeybee societies.

After starting his academic career as an assistant professor at Ohio State University, Page returned to UC-Davis, where he became a full professor within five years, eventually becoming chair of the department of entomology.

He loved the bee lab and teaching, but the complexities of academic administration were challenging.

“I felt like I was a custodian as an administrator, and that I didn’t really have the ability to do things that would fundamentally change the university,” he said. “I had ideas, but I couldn’t get them advanced because of the stationary inertia I had to overcome.”

So when he was recruited to become the founding director of the School of Life Sciences at ASU, he was hesitant. He visited the campus, talked to students and met President Michael Crow.

“He was enthusiastic and had all these great ideas,” Page said. “I told my wife, ‘It’s different there. I could really do something to make a difference.’

“But then I said, ‘Why would I want to go to ASU?’ And she said ‘Why not?’ So I competed for the job.”

And he got it. In 2004, he was named founding director of the School of Life Sciences, where he launched the university’s first fully integrated, interdisciplinary academic unit. He calls it his “pride and joy.” In 2011, Page became dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, a position he held for two years. And although he’s a scientist, he’s especially happy that he was able to boost the humanities faculty.

“I implemented programs for humanities faculty to recognize that they’re the heart and soul of the university,” he said. “They can get lost in the shuffle of the drive for certain kinds of metrics by which universities are measured.

“The truth is that they are the intellectual soul of the university.”

Page was named provost, the university’s top academic official, in 2014. Health issues forced him to give up the post about 18 months later.

“I feel that I left a lot undone — things I felt passionate about. But on the other hand, I had responsibilities to my health.”

Over the years, he found that ASU is not mired in the same inertia that stalls innovation at other institutions. “I was a real builder here at ASU, not just a custodian.”

Page calls the Regents' Professor honor “icing on the cake” and is proud of the recognition of his research.

Through the decades of administration, Page has maintained his work with the honeybees. In 2013, he released the book “The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution,” summarizing his lifetime of research.

“When I came to ASU, I said, ‘I can’t come without a bee lab’ so they built me one on the Polytechnic Campus,” he said.

Much of Page’s research is on the biology of bees in the field, but he enjoys the buzzing in the lab as well, calling it “a place to escape.”

He still teaches a course in the bee lab at Poly, which he has done continuously over the years.

“I teach the students fundamental biology and behavior of bees and how we take that knowledge and change their behavior to benefit us, so we can profit from their honey and the pollination services they provide.

“I’ve turned a lot of kids on to bees.”

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now

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