3 From UA Receive State's Highest Faculty Honor

Alison Hawthorne Deming, Hoshin Gupta and Pham Huu Tiep have been named Regents' Professors, a distinction that goes to full professors whose achievements have resulted in national or international recognition.

University Communications,
(Photo: FJ Gaylor)

An award-winning poet and essayist influenced by science, a researcher who has advanced our understanding of hydrologic processes and a superstar in the field of mathematics have been named Regents' Professors, the state's highest faculty rank. University of Arizona faculty members Alison Hawthorne Deming, Hoshin Gupta and Pham Huu Tiep each has received the appointment, which goes to full professors who have demonstrated achievements resulting in national or international recognition.

Regents' Professors are expected to exemplify the highest objectives and standards of the University through their scholarship, research or creative activities, and teaching. Approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, only 3 percent of faculty members can be Regents' Professors.

The new Regents' Professors will be honored at a ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 11, in Crowder Hall. At that time, the UA also will present awards to University Distinguished Professor Melissa Fitch and University Distinguished Outreach Faculty Daniel McDonald. Dr. David G. Armstrong also was named University Distinguished Outreach Faculty in 2017 prior to joining the University of Southern California.

The University Distinguished Professor award was created in 1995 to recognize faculty who have a long-term commitment to undergraduate education and have made outstanding contributions at the UA. The University Distinguished Outreach Faculty title recognizes distinguished University outreach for the common good of the state and the nation and is the highest honor awarded in this category at the UA. Evidence of an innovative outreach program within a discipline, short- and long-term impact, and creative delivery methods are essential.

Alison Hawthorne Deming

Alison Hawthorne Deming has been called "one of America's most original poets of nature and culture" and her work hailed as "sophisticated yet accessible." Her special interests include the relationship between art and science, environmental writing, and the cultural or multigenerational memoir. Her hallmark, it has been said, is her ability to place nature at the center of our lives, even if our lives are urban.

Often cited by her students as an enthusiastic, caring teacher, Deming is the Agnese Nelms Haury Chair of Environment and Social Justice, a professor in the Department of English in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and an affiliate faculty member in the Institute of the Environment. With her Haury support, she started a field studies writing program on Grand Manan in Canada, where UA graduate students work with local high school students to document changes in the island's lifeways and fishing industry.

A poet and literary essayist, Deming has authored four nonfiction books, including her most recent, "Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit." She has published several books of poetry, including "Stairway to Heaven," about which it has been said she writes with "scrupulous and merciful passion about every kind of relatedness — family, place, politics and wildlife." She collaborated with photographer Stephen Strom, a renowned professor of astrophysics, on "Death Valley: Painted Light," published by the UA Press in 2016. Deming also is the editor of two anthologies.

A recent Guggenheim Fellow, Deming has received many awards for her writing, including a Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, a Pushcart Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, the Bayer Award in Science Writing, two National Endowment of the Arts fellowships, a Fine Arts Work Center fellowship and a Wallace Stegner fellowship from Stanford University.

"I am truly honored to be named a Regents' Professor, particularly at this time of so much uncertainty and confusion in our democracy," Deming said. "As a writer and educator, I believe deeply in the power of language to bridge differences and build empathy. This recognition makes me grateful to be part of a dynamic community that holds such beliefs dear."

Hoshin Gupta

Hoshin Gupta is a hydrologist, systems theorist and philosopher with strong technical skills in complex algorithm development. His ideas, methods and vision have set the standard in his field for 30 years and enhanced the ability to use models for learning and prediction in hydrology.

Gupta has an international reputation as an exceptional scientist, charismatic teacher and influential world leader in watershed hydrology, achieved through groundbreaking research done via rainfall-runoff studies. He was elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2009, awarded the European Geophysical Union's 2014 Dalton Medal and honored by the American Meteorological Society with the 2017 RE Horton Lecture Award. In 2013, he was elected Tucson Electric Power Fellow of the Galileo Circle of the UA.

Gupta has published 10 books and more than 170 peer-reviewed papers, and his work is among the most cited in the field of hydrology. One of his papers has been cited more than 1,500 times, and total citations for all of this work exceed 27,000 in Google Scholar.

In addition, Gupta has been working on improving the integration of hydrologic science into decision-making and policy. In 2006, he was named the Salt River Project Professor of Technology, Public Policy & Markets for work on evaluating hydrological impact of potential climate change. Recently, he was a principal investigator of the first European Union-funded project to strengthen ties between European- and U.S.-based researchers in the social and natural sciences related to water.

Gupta is a professor of systems analysis in the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences. He has been selected by students as the winner of the department's annual award for teaching excellence on five separate occasions. Additionally, he was recognized by the UA with the 2014-2015 Graduate College Graduate and Professional Education Teaching and Mentoring Award.

"Being a member of the UA community for almost 34 years has been a rewarding and enriching experience," Gupta said. "To be recognized and valued in this way is very gratifying, not to mention extremely motivating."

Pham Huu Tiep

Pham Huu Tiep, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, is a leading expert in group theory, a vibrant part of mathematics that is foundational for several other fields of research and applications, including materials science, atomic physics and public key cryptography.

The classification of all finite simple groups from 1960-1980 was considered one of the most important mathematical achievements of the 20th century, but it left many unproven conjectures — mathematical statements that seem reasonably true but have yet to be rigorously confirmed. Tiep's research is at the forefront of tackling those conjectures.

Tiep's colleagues say he is "the best-known group theorist" in cracking difficult-to-resolve conjectures. His work has been called "elegant and skillful" and is credited with bringing group theory to a higher level. His recent results include the resolution of the Ore conjecture posed in 1951, as well as the confirmation of an old J. Thompson conjecture about the smallest symmetric power of an irreducible representation of finite group with fixed point.

For his contributions, Tiep has received a Chern Professorship at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, a Simons Foundation Fellowship and a Clay Senior Scholarship. He is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Tiep's research has been published in some of the top journals in the field, including Annals of Mathematics, Inventiones, Duke Math Journal, JEMS and Advances in Mathematics.

Tiep has a passion for teaching that is apparent to an audience made up of students in a classroom or colleagues at a conference. A riveting speaker, he has organized a number of international research conferences and been invited to speak at others. Tiep has been described as "an extraordinary mathematician" and "a superstar" with a "kind and modest personality."

Tiep said: "It is truly a great honor for me to be appointed as a Regents' Professor."

Melissa Fitch

Melissa Fitch, a second-generation Chicana, was born in Los Angeles and raised in San Francisco. Her research focuses on Asian representations of Latin American popular culture and crosses into numerous fields, such as women's studies, border studies, Luso-Brazilian culture, and global and cultural studies.

Fitch was one of three 1885 Society Distinguished Fellows — and the first from the College of Humanities — named in 2015. She has been named a Fulbright Scholar three times in six years and has been called "a fearless intellectual" by her peers.

Her groundbreaking publications on gender studies and global representations of Latin American popular culture have been viewed as trend-setting by critics. She has authored or co-authored three books, and serves as editor of the journal Studies in Latin American Popular Culture.

Fitch has traveled to 35 countries and has directed four UA Study Abroad programs — two in Spain and one each in Brazil and Chile. She is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and participates in the social, cultural and critical theory curriculum through the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. She has received several teaching awards, including the UA Five Star Teaching Award, the institution's highest teaching honor, in 2008.

Daniel McDonald

Daniel McDonald works in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Cooperate Extension as a director, area agent and associate regional specialist focusing on family consumer health sciences. He engages individuals, families and communities in a way that enables them to make positive and sustainable changes in their lives.

Improving people's health and well-being, particularly that of underserved children and adults, is a primary focus of McDonald's research and work. He developed the Garden Kitchen, a seed-to-table nutrition education facility in a low-income urban neighborhood where community members learn how to grow and prepare healthy meals. It also serves as a laboratory for UA students and researchers.

His other projects include Activate Tucson, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, Brain Waves, and the Family and Consumer Sciences Alumni and Friends Council. McDonald also participates in youth programs, including Healthy Living Ambassadors, Youth Voice: Young Choice and Teen Interactive Theater Education.

For his outreach efforts, McDonald has been honored by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pima County. McDonald was inducted into the YMCA of Southern Arizona Hall of Fame in 2014.