Faculty awarded for creativity and research contributions

Rachel Abbey

Three faculty members were honored for their contributions to scholarship in their fields at the 11th annual Celebration of Scholarship program yesterday.

Kathleen Browne of the School of Art, Per Enflo of the mathematics department and Marvin Troutt of the management and information systems department won the Distinguished Scholar Awards for 2005.

Nominees for the award are judged by faculty committees within their disciplines, said Nancy Padak, chairwoman of the University Research Council. Nominees are then recommended to the Distinguished Scholar Award committee to select finalists. From this year’s nine finalists, three award winners are chosen.

“The quality of the work you do really seems to matter,” said Raj Aggarwal, 2004 winner and finance professor.

This recognition from the university helps to dispel self-doubt in one’s work, he said. Often, researchers or those involved in creative work have no reassurance that their work is valued.

“There are a lot of hours and days spent in solitary work,” Aggarwal said. “Nobody knows about it.”

This is the ninth year the Distinguished Scholar Awards have been given out. The awards reward creative activity as well as research, Padak said. This was especially highlighted in today’s winners.

Browne won for her contributions to the art field, especially her specialty of metalworking. Sometimes research in art is not appreciated, she said, and she said she was excited to see the arts recognized and supported at the university.

Enflo has contributed much to the field of mathematics, for which he is best known, as well as to the musical field. He is best known for finding solutions to complex mathematical problems, within the area of functional analysis, which had been unsolved for more than 40 years.

Enflo said his musical background greatly influenced the way he looks at mathematical and scientific problems.

Troutt’s contributions incorporate probability and statistics with what he calls “mathematical psychology.” For example, one of Troutt’s main developments is minimum decisional regret. This uses a mathematical model of what a person should do under normal circumstances and compares that to actual decisions made. By tracking the decision-maker’s choices, minimum decisional regret helps to understand the reasoning behind their choices.

This year’s winners received a plaque and $1,500 to honor their accomplishments.

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].