Bojowald, Cheney, Hedges, Krishna, Song receive Faculty Scholar Medals

University Park, Pa. – Five University faculty members have received the 2011 Faculty Scholar Medals for Outstanding Achievement.

They are Martin Bojowald, associate professor of physics and the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos in the Eberly College of Science, the physical sciences medal; Patrick Cheney, distinguished professor of English and Comparative Literature in the College of the Liberal Arts, the arts and humanities medal; S. Blair Hedges, professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science, the life and health sciences medal; Vijay Krishna, distinguished professor of economics in the College of the Liberal Arts, the social and behavioral sciences medal; and Chunshan Song, distinguished professor of fuel science in the College of Earth and Mineral Science and professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering, the engineering medal.

Established in 1980, the award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. A committee of peers reviews nominations and selects candidates.

In the physical sciences, Bojowald, a theoretical physicist who works at the interface of quantum physics and cosmology, earned a doctoral degree at Aachen University, Germany, and was junior staff scientist at the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, Germany, before joining the Penn State faculty in 2006.

He is recognized for a series of papers in which he described how quantum corrections of Einstein's theory of general relativity can resolve the big bang singularity in cosmology. "In doing so," one nominator wrote, "he created the burgeoning field of loop quantum cosmology, about which nearly a thousand scientific papers have been published."

His pioneering research has been widely recognized. In 2007, he shared the Xanthopolous Prize, awarded every three years to the top young researcher in gravitational physics, and in 2008 won a Career Award from the National Science Foundation. His German-language book on his cosmology research is a best seller that has been through five reprints and the English language version has been published recently.

For the arts and humanities, Cheney, who is considered "the foremost authority" on the early English canon and English Renaissance studies, is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking transformation of the field of authorship studies. He is the author of five books, the most recent being Shakespeare's Literary Authorship and Marlowe's Republican Authorship, with a sixth, Reading Sixteenth Century Poetry, to be published on April 15.

In 2007 and 2009, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholarly Editions Grant for his work as general editor of the Oxford edition of the Collected Works of Edmund Spenser. "Cheney's work on Marlowe, Shakespeare and Spenser," a colleague said, "has been original in Renaissance Studies because (oddly enough) no one has ever specialized in the three authors who form the basis of the early modern English canon."

A member of the Penn State faculty since 1980, Cheney earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Montana and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Toronto. He also has been a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford.

In the life and health sciences, Hedges, a member of the Penn State biology faculty since 1992, has become an international leader in the field of evolutionary biology and is considered a 21st-century Charles Darwin.

One aspect of his research has been devoted to accurately dating key nodes on the tree of life in order to relate this radiation to specific events in Earth's history. His research has inspired new hypotheses on the origins of species, including mammals, and formed the basis for his book, The Timetree of Life, which some external reviewers said has won him "critical acclaim."

A second aspect of Hedges research is the discovery and description of new species of amphibians and reptiles. To date, he has named more than 70 species of amphibians and reptiles. Author of more than 200 journal articles, he was elected in 2009 as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He earned a bachelor of science degree from George Mason University and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland.

For the social and behavioral sciences, Krishna is recognized for his "stellar publication record" in the top economic journals in the areas of game theory and auctions. His paper, "Finitely Repeated Games," in Econometrica, challenged the contention that finitely repeated games and infinitely repeated games behaved differently. The finding earned an essential place in game theory texts.

Krishna's 2002 book, Auction Theory, serves as a watershed in synthesizing economic research on auctions. The book is, according to external reviewers, required reading in graduate courses across the country.

A member of the Penn State economics faculty since 1993, he has received four multi-year National Science Foundation grants in his career and is a fellow of the Econometric Society, the foremost international scholarly organization in economics.

He earned undergraduate and master's degrees at Delhi University and a doctoral degree at Princeton University.

Song, the engineering recipient, is regarded as an international leader in fuel science and catalysis. He is recognized for new approaches for removing sulfur by selective adsorption for ultra-clean liquid fuels, new approaches for designing sulfur and carbon resistant catalysts, shape-selective catalysis, novel molecular basket sorbents for CO2 capture, and a new process known as tri-forming of natural gas, using CO2 in flue gas as a method to produce industrially useful syngas. His contributions were described as "brilliant and prolific" by one of his external references.

Song, who was elected a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and received its Henry Storch Award in Fuel Science in 2010, is the author of more than 190 refereed publications in journals and has delivered over 45 plenary or keynote lectures at international conferences related to clean fuels, catalysis and CO2 worldwide.

A member of the University faculty since 1989, he is director of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Energy Institute and is associate director of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment.

He earned an undergraduate degree from Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China, and master's and doctoral degrees from Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.

Last Updated March 16, 2011