Faculty exemplars earn highest faculty honor as Regents' Professors

December 5, 2012

Three Arizona State University professors have been named Regents’ Professors for their extraordinary contributions in the classroom and in their fields of expertise.

Regents’ Professor is the highest faculty honor awarded at ASU, conferred on faculty who have made pioneering contributions in their areas of expertise, who have achieved a sustained level of distinction, and who enjoy national and international recognition for these accomplishments. Download Full Image

Honored with the distinction of Regents Professors in 2012 are Ron Adrian, a professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; Sudhir Kumar, a foundation professor in the Biodesign Institute Center for Evolutionary Medicine & Informatics and School of Life Sciences; and Rebecca Tsosie, professor in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Adrian is a pioneer in the field of fluid mechanics, winning essentially every major award within the field. In addition to being elected to the National Academy of Engineering, he is a fellow of the America Physical Society, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics among others.

He has made major contributions to the study of turbulent flows (chaotic or unstable eddying motion in a fluid) through his groundbreaking experiments, by his development of new instrumentation for studies of turbulence, and capitalizing on the understanding gained by these measurements to advance theories and models of fluid flows. He has created advanced experimental and mathematical methods that have revealed new aspects of turbulent flow and inspired novel lines of research in the fluid mechanics community.  

Adrian’s research has resulted in seminal contributions to the development of diagnostics used to measure turbulent flows and to mathematical models used to understand and predict their underlying structure. Most labs today that specialize in fluid mechanics use systems based on his work. Adrian’s research has been cited more than 8,000 times and has resulted in eight patents, new technologies and many students and researchers who have benefited from his mentorship. Almost all of the 35 doctoral students mentored by Adrian have moved into prominent positions in academia, the national labs and industry. Others have used their education in turbulence to pursue interesting careers outside of engineering, including international banking and Oscar Award winning independent film production.

Kumar has developed many methods and tools that are indispensable in the genomic medicine, evolutionary biology and functional genomics fields. In addition to being president of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, he is an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow.

Kumar is a renowned expert in the evolutionary bioinformatics field who developed MEGA (Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis), a software package that provides evolutionary analysis of gene sequences across individuals, populations and species, with colleagues Koichiro Tamura and Masatoshi Nei. The software has been downloaded more than 750,000 times and papers documenting this analysis infrastructure are among the mostly highly cited in biology and computer science literature with six papers cited more than 42,000 times.

Kumar inspires the next generation of scientists through inquiry-based biology and informatics classes such as “Introduction to Comparative Genomics” that offers students a hands-on approach using real-world examples of evolutionary genomics concepts and approaches and relevant applications in biomedicine. He has mentored 17 postdoctoral associates/research scientists, many of whom have gone on to successful positions in academia or the private sector.

Kumar is working on a new field of “phylomedicine” where evolutionary knowledge and powerful bioinformatics tools are used to identify the underlying genetic basis for many human diseases, providing a step toward individualized medicine. Recognition of his achievements also includes: Arizona Governor’s Celebration of Innovation finalist (twice); ASU Faculty Exemplar; and the Innovation Award in Functional Genomics.

Rebecca Tsosie is one of the most highly regarded scholars of Indian law in the world, authoring more than 40 law review articles and book chapters during the past 15 years. She is co-author of the nation’s leading treatise on Indian law, “Indian Law: Native Nations and the Federal System.” Her work is widely cited and she has contributed chapters to almost every leading volume on American Indian law published since 2001.

Among the many awards she has been granted include the Native Nations Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UCLA School of Law. She is a past recipient of the American Bar Association’s 2002 Spirit of Excellence award and she was honored as Professor of the Year in 2009 at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. The University of Oregon awarded her its inaugural Oregon Tribes Professor of Law position.

As executive director of the ASU Indian Legal Program for 15 years, Tsosie was instrumental in transforming the program into one of the nation’s best and she helped in the formation of the law schools master’s degree program in Indian Law. A graduate student mentor, she also serves on many law school and university committees and she aided in the formation of the Indian Legal Clinic that was recently awarded the President’s Award for Social Embeddedness.

As a valued member of the American Indian community, she is a Supreme Court justice for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and San Carlos Apache Tribe. She is also engaged in public education efforts and training Indian law attorneys.

Pulitzer-winning alum returns to ASU to lead Carnegie-Knight News21

December 6, 2012

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Arizona State University alumnus Jacquee Petchel will join ASU to lead the Carnegie-Knight News21 multimedia investigative reporting initiative.

Petchel will join the faculty of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as professor of practice and executive editor of News21, the highly acclaimed program that brings together top journalism students from around the country to produce in-depth, innovative and interactive investigative journalism on issues of national importance. News21 is headquartered at the Cronkite School and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the Hearst Foundations. Jacquee Petchel Download Full Image

This past summer, 24 News21 Fellows from 11 universities produced a major national investigation into voting rights in the United States. “Who Can Vote?” consists of more than 20 in-depth reports and rich multimedia content that includes interactive databases and data visualizations, video profiles and photo galleries. Major media partners that have published all or part of the project include The Washington Post, nbcnews.com and National Public Radio. The project recently received an EPPY Award for best college/university investigative or documentary report from Editor & Publisher magazine.

“When it comes to innovation in journalism education, News21 is like the parting of the Red Sea,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the Knight Foundation. “It’s a miraculous combination of student journalism, serious investigative work, high technology and major media partnerships that at first seemed impossible. But it’s really happening, and it is helping lead students toward a better future in journalism. We’re glad ASU has found an executive editor who can keep the miracle going.”

As News21’s executive editor, Petchel will serve as the program’s lead editor and newsroom manager, supervising a team of student reporters from top journalism programs around the country as they conduct major national investigations on critical issues and produce innovative multimedia journalism. She will work closely with a team of Cronkite faculty, including Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post; Retha Hill, former vice president for content for BET Interactive; and longtime Miami Herald reporter Steve Doig, to conceptualize and plan investigations, coach student journalists and edit their work, and develop media partnerships to ensure wide distribution of News21 projects.

“Jacquee's award-winning accomplishments in print and broadcast investigative journalism and her contagious, high-energy personality make her an ideal leader for what has become the highest-impact student reporting project in the country,” Downie said. “She will inspire student reporters to produce innovative professional-level journalism that can help them launch productive careers. It's an added bonus that Jacquee will be returning home to Cronkite, where she is already a member of the school's Alumni Hall of Fame.”

Petchel said she is looking forward to returning to the place where she began her journalism career.

“I couldn’t be more honored after more than 30 years of investigative journalism to return to the university where my own career started to coach and train the next generation of multimedia investigative journalists,” Petchel said. “The News21 program is one of the most progressive initiatives in the country, the Cronkite School is a national prize in and of itself, and I cannot wait to jump in and get started.”

Petchel joins the Cronkite School following a distinguished career as an award-winning investigative reporter, editor and producer. She began her career as a Pulliam Fellow at The Indianapolis News in 1980-1981 and then went on to spend six years as a reporter for The Arizona Republic.

In 1987, she joined The Miami Herald covering social services and later became an investigative reporter, where she was part of a team that won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for an investigation into property damage in South Florida caused by Hurricane Andrew.

She then began producing investigative journalism for television, first as senior producer of investigations at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis and then as executive producer of investigations at WFOR-TV in Miami. She returned to The Miami Herald in 1999 as assistant city editor over the criminal justice team, later becoming the paper’s investigations editor. In 2001, she was part of a team that received the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for coverage of the federal raid that removed 6-year-old Elián González from his relatives’ home in Miami and returned him to his father’s custody.    

Since 2005, Petchel has been senior editor for investigations and enterprise at The Houston Chronicle, managing the investigative team.

Over the course of her career, she has reported or led projects that have won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Silver Baton and numerous regional awards.  

She is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and has served on the organization’s board of directors. She also has been a visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute. 

A Phoenix native, Petchel earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Latin American studies from ASU, where she was a reporter and editor for The State Press, ASU’s independent student newspaper. She was inducted into the Cronkite School’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 1997.

Reporter , ASU Now