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Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professors for 2017

The life of an academic usually does not offer as many visible steps of successful career navigation as other professions. We wanted to repair such a weakness in a small way by recognizing Associate Professors who were performing at such a high level that their colleagues wanted to single them out for more visible praise. This led to the naming of Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professors.

Each year we start the process of naming Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professors by having departments and similar units nominate deserving colleagues. A team of University and Endowed Chaired Professors, designations recognizing their own academic accomplishments, judge the various nominations. They forward selections to the Provost. These titles are term-limited with a duration of five years, maximum. (When a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor is promoted to full professor status, the term would also be completed.)

This post announces the Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professors for 2017. As you can see below, their work exemplifies what makes Georgetown strong – a faculty who themselves are pushing the envelope of knowledge in their field and transmitting their passion for such work to their students.

Emanuela Del Gado is an associate professor in the Physics department and an active researcher in the Georgetown Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology. Dr. Del Gado came to Georgetown from ETH in Zurich, one of Europe’s top scientific research institutions, in the spring of 2014. In the short time since she arrived, she has published 15 peer reviewed articles, with one more in press and several currently under review. Dr. Del Gado is an active collaborator in multiple areas of research, many of them with interdisciplinary impact, and some involving teams across the globe. Her work on so-called “green concrete” has widespread practical implications for reducing energy consumption in the production of concrete. Dr. Del Gado’s research excellence extends to her mentorship of students, postdocs, and visitors. She has attracted a stellar team that has really invigorated the soft matter community here. This summer, Emanuela was invited to join the NSF ADVANCE program at Georgetown supported by an NSF grant shared with five other institutions. This program seeks to support and enhance the trajectory of newly tenured STEM women associate professors by providing a multi-layered mentoring network with the goal of helping these scholars to best take advantage of career development opportunities.

Christine Fair is an associate professor in the School of Foreign Service, with a focus on security studies. A leading expert on the Pakistani military, Fair wrote Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, published by Oxford University Press in 2014. An extraordinarily prolific and impactful scholar, she has published 45 articles in refereed journals in the field. Professor Fair’s research combines her knowledge of language and linguistics and her regional expertise. She is by no means a conventional political scientist. In the classroom, Professor Fair has an extremely engaging style, challenging her students to excel. Indeed, it is instructive to note that her most recent scholarly book, Pakistan’s Enduring Challenges (University of Pennsylvania Press), is co-edited with former student and research assistant, Sarah Watson. She is able to translate her academic studies for a more general audience and is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio and other television and print outlets. She has testified before Congress 13 times and consults with US government agencies. Dr. Fair is part of the Georgetown NSF ADVANCE program cohort.

Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science and studies algorithms for distributed computing. This part of his work involves the development of new theories, but has important applications in the modern world of powerful but inexpensive smartphones and self-driving cars filled with multiple processors. These devices are often geographically distributed and have indirect or unreliable means for communicating with other devices. Indeed, many of Professor Newport’s contributions involve analysis of and algorithms for communication in unpredictable networks, in which communication among mobile devices is unreliable. Equally impressive as his contributions to computer science are his books on personal achievement, now five in number. His latest, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, was a Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller. Two of his other books are the meat of lessons he has passed on to Georgetown undergraduates in lectures to incoming students (How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less, and How To Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students).

Rebecca Ryan is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology of Georgetown College, with a focus on applied developmental psychology and social policy. Her work addresses the processes that underlie associations between the demographic circumstances of children’s lives and their well being. Her research reflects the systematic, cumulative nature of her efforts to dig down into the proximal processes – psychological, sociological, and economic – that underlie links from family structure to child and adolescent well-being. Dr. Ryan displays a level of methodological nimbleness that is unparalleled among her peers. She has broadened her repertoire from observational methods to highly sophisticated secondary data analysis to genetic modeling. Dr. Ryan is highly sought after as a mentor by both graduate and undergraduate students. Undergraduate students in Dr. Ryan’s laboratory get intensive training in sophisticated statistical and methodological approaches in developmental science, especially longitudinal analysis using large datasets. They are full participants in all phases of her ongoing studies as evidenced by their inclusion on numerous conference posters as well as co-authorship on papers. Dr. Ryan is also part of the Georgetown NSF ADVANCE program.

Daniel Shore is an associate professor in the English department. Professor Shore was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. His first book, Milton and the Art of Rhetoric, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012, and his second, Cyberformalism: The Histories of Linguistic Forms in the Digital Archive, will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2017. Garnering external funding support for scholarly work in the humanities is difficult. However, between 2013 and 2016, Professor Shore has quite successfully secured external support for his research from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Mellon Foundation, the Folger Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of this research funding built on early research funded by Google. Much of this work is team-based research with faculty at other universities and other fields of study. One digital humanities project is developing novel network analyses to study persons connected to Francis Bacon and his work. In doing some of the digital humanities research, he is building a data resource that students and other scholars can use far in the future, thus contributing to the common good of future generations.

We congratulate them all for their accomplishments thus far and want them to know how much the Georgetown community treasures them as colleagues.

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