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Institute grants 21 Schwab Academic Excellence Awards in 2018

January 10, 2018 | M. Clay

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities proudly announces the 21 winners of the 2018 Schwab Academic Excellence Awards.

The $3,000 prize recognizes faculty in each College of Arts and Sciences department across the arts, humanities and qualitative sciences. Department chairs nominate faculty for the award. Nineteen individual faculty members received the honor. Additionally, two academic departments are using the funds to support faculty research and service.

Former IAH Advisory Board Chair Julia Sprunt Grumbles (who is now a member of the University Board of Trustees) established the award in 2015 to help department chairs recognize teaching and scholarship. IAH Advisory Board Vice Chair Nelson Schwab III (’67, English) has since endowed the fund.

Awardees may use the funds to advance their teaching or scholarship.

“We thought this way of giving to the chairs was the best way to retain the best and brightest at Carolina, a goal of mine, since I began supporting the Institute,” said Schwab, co-founder and senior advisor at Carousel Capital and past chair of the University Board of Trustees. He was recently interviewed on an episode of “The Institute” podcast, where he talked about his love of Carolina and why he supports faculty.

Paul Roberge, professor and chair of the Linguistics Department, notes that: “Schwab awards have enabled departmental research, spearheaded by Associate Professor David Mora-Marín, on three immigrant languages spoken in North Carolina: Sgaw Karen (spoken in the Chapel Hill/Durham area by refugees from Burma/Myanmar), Tigrinya (Eritrea, Ethiopia), and Purépecha, a Native American language spoken in the highlands of the Mexican state of Michoacán. This research program enabled and supported by the Schwab award promises to advance our understanding of heritage language maintenance, revitalization, and shift.  In addition to the intrinsic value of body of knowledge that is realized, the Schwab Award directly benefits students and the immigrant communities themselves.”

The full list of awardees by department:

African, African American and Diaspora Studies: Kia Caldwell

American Studies and Folklore: Gabrielle Anna Berlinger

“What a wonderful surprise and honor. This generous award will help support my collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Art as we plan a three-day Jewish material culture symposium for fall 2018, and produce a volume of essays from participating scholars, curators, collectors, and artists, to follow. I’m so grateful for this recognition from my department and the IAH.”

Anthropology: Christopher Nelson

“I was surprised and delighted to learn about the Schwab Academic Excellence Award. I’m particularly proud to receive this recognition from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, a place that has been so central to my intellectual life at Carolina. I intend to use the award to complete my current book project, When the Bones Speak: Value, Sacrifice and Creative Action in Contemporary Japan.”

Art & Art History: Joy Drury Cox

“I am incredibly honored and thankful to be receiving the Institute for Arts & Humanities Schwab Academic Excellence Award. This award is incredibly important as the support will allow me to make crucial investments in my research that I could not afford to do otherwise. I am planning on upgrading my photography equipment.”

Asian Studies: Claudia Yaghoobi

“I am delighted and honored to receive the Schwab Excellence Award. I plan to put the funds to good use towards the copyediting and indexing of my second monography, Body Politics, Temporary Marriage, and Sex Work in Modern Persian Literature and Film which is under review currently. Funding for research is essential for faculty success and I am deeply grateful for this award.”

City and Regional Planning: Meenu Tewari

“I am immensely grateful to the Institute, my department chair Noreen McDonald, and Nelson Schwab for this generous award and recognition. The award was especially timely and will go a long way towards helping me move ahead with my work on institutional reform in the water sector as part of my Water Stories manuscript.”

Classics: Al Duncan

“One daydreams about inheritances from distant relations, and this unsolicited honor came as a similarly pleasant surprise. I deeply appreciate receiving this award, which I consider just one of the many ways that the IAH champions humanistic inquiry at UNC. The support facilitates my research on a several fronts, helping me to finish my book on ugliness in ancient Athenian drama while allowing me to pilot new research into the reception of Greek tragedy in Africa and elsewhere.”

Communication: Cori E. Dauber

“Support like this makes possible the one thing I can’t get any other way and need more than anything else: time. It makes it possible for me to have hours and hours of assistance during the semester so that I can work to get my team outside funding. We are working on developing systematic methods for analyzing and understanding the online propaganda of extremist groups. My own interest is specifically the Islamic State which, having lost its physical territory, will be more dangerous than ever in the online space.”

Dramatic Art: Adam Maxwell

“I was incredibly honored that my colleagues thought my work deserving of such an award. I plan to make use of this award by inviting a specialist in the field of ‘arena rigging’ to campus for a master class on rigging hoists and event truss and hopefully get some of our graduate students certified in motor repair and troubleshooting.”

English and Comparative Literature: Rick Warner

“I am honored and very grateful to receive this award, which will allow me to make significant headway on my second book project, a global history and analysis of “contemplative” cinema since 1945. I will use these funds to help cover the costs of conference travel overseas and a much-needed research trip. My thanks to the IAH and Nelson Schwab III for their generous support, and for doing so much to promote intellectual creativity and collaboration at UNC.”

Geography: Christian Lentz

“I am honored to receive this award, and it deepens my gratitude for all the support provided by the IAH. The funds will help me publish my first book, Contested Territory: Dien Bien Phu and the Making of Northwest Vietnam, and begin a new project on transnational political movements within Southeast Asia and across the global south.”

Germanic and Slavic Language and Literature: Eric Downing

“I was surprised, delighted and honored – in that order – to receive the Schwab Excellence Award, and it couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous moment. I had just received proofs for my latest book (The Chain of Things: Divinatory Magic and the Practice of Reading [Cornell UP]), and close behind it the bill for its index, a cost always covered by the author. The Award will cover that, and then some: it is so rewarding to have my current research recognized and supported, along with seed funds to nurture my future work. Thank you.”

History: Cemil Aydin

“I have to travel to three different continents almost every year, due to my research sites, archives locations, and conference occasions. I especially appreciate this award as it will allow me to continue my international engagements.”

Linguistics: Departmental (Paul Roberge, Chair)

“I consider the Schwab Academic Excellence Award a blessing in the current context of retrenchment, rationalization, and limited resources. ‘Blessing’ is not an exaggeration.  We would simply not be able to undertake this kind of scholarly enterprise were it not for the generosity of the Institute and the Schwab family.”

Music: Michael Figueroa

“I am very grateful to be the recipient of this symbolic and material act of support for my research as a UNC faculty member. I plan to use the funds to help offset travel costs and other expenditures related to the preparation and publication of my book-in-progress. The IAH continues to be a pillar of our campus’s intellectual culture.”

Philosophy: Gillian Russell

“I’m absolutely delighted about the Schwab Academic Excellence Award.  The recognition for my research means a huge amount to me, and the money will allow me to travel to other philosophy departments—both in the US and abroad—to give talks about the work that I’m doing.  My current project is a book in the philosophy of logic that has relevance to a lot of different areas of philosophy, so it’s going to be especially important for me take up opportunities to explain my work to the field at large.”

Political Science: Rahsaan Maxwell

“The award was welcome news and a wonderful way to end 2017!  I will use the funds to support summer research in 2018, which will help advance a book project and allow me to collect results that will make me more competitive for future grant submissions.”

Religious Studies: Jessica A. Boon

“I am honored to receive this award, which will support research in Spain to finalize my second book project on spirituality and mysticism in the age of the Spanish Inquisition. I appreciate the IAH’s continuing mission to find innovative ways to support faculty research in the arts and humanities.”

Romance Studies: Emilio del Valle Escalante

Sociology: Karolyn Tyson

“I was thrilled. It’s an honor to be recognized in this way and I very much appreciate the support of my chair and the IAH to help advance my work on my project.”

Women’s and Gender Studies: Departmental (Silvia Tomaskova, Chair)

“The Schwab Academic Excellence Fund will be used by the faculty of our department for travel either for research or to conferences. My faculty are interdisciplinary, representing several fields in the Social Sciences, Literature, History and Informatics and fieldwork and archival research are a significant part of their agenda. The Schwab Fund will contribute generously to their ability to travel and thereby improve their scholarly profile. Conference travel will strengthen their professional ties and connections with other scholars in their fields.”