6 faculty elevated to Distinguished, University professorships

Written by 

Six faculty were honored for exceptional achievement and contributions by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees during its meeting April 9.

Benoit Widget

William L. Benoit, Ph.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Benoit, who came to UAB in 2017 as professor of communication studies, teaches courses in crisis and political communications. Benoit has published 20 books and more than 300 scholarly publications and delivered more than 200 presentations at professional meetings.

He has received the Outstanding Academic Book award by Choice for his book “Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies: A Theory of Image Restoration Strategies” and developed groundbreaking theories on image repair and political campaign discourses, which are keystone works in those areas. Benoit also was selected as a University Fellow at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Bhatia Widget

Smita Bhatia, M.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine. She joined the UAB faculty in 2015 as professor of pediatric hematology/oncology and vice chair in the Department of Pediatrics. She has published approximately 285 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and has authored or co-authored approximately 25 textbook chapters.

Bhatia has been funded continuously by the National Cancer Institute since 2000; the extramural funding for her research program is more than $3.9 million. She is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and serves on the board of directors for the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the executive committees of the Children’s Oncology Group, the American Pediatric Society and the Association of American Physicians. She also is a section editor for Cancer, a member of the Journal of Clinical Oncology’s editorial board and an ad-hoc reviewer for other journals and grant-review panels.

Cimino Widget

James Cimino, M.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine in the School of Medicine. Cimino came to UAB in 2015 as a professor of medicine and is the Inaugural director of the UAB Informatics Institute. He has received numerous NIH grants and has co-edited three editions of the most influential textbook on informatics.

Cimino has published approximately 150 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Currently, he serves currently as a reviewer for 11 journals and on the editorial boards for Methods of Information in Medicine and Biomed Central, plus as associate editor for the Journal of Biomedical Informatics. Cimino has delivered more than 40 lectures on his research internationally.

Siegal Widget

Gene Siegal, M.D., Ph.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pathology in the School of Medicine. Siegal joined the UAB faculty as a professor of pathology in 1990 and currently is the Robert W. Mowry Endowed Professor and executive vice chair for the department. He holds secondary appointments in the departments of Surgery and Genetics and senior scientist appointments in several centers and is interim chair for the Department of Genetics and interim geneticist-in-chief for UAB Medicine.

Siegal has published approximately 350 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and is the editor-in-chief of Laboratory Investigation and a section editor for Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He also serves on the editorial boards for Modern Pathology, Advances in Anatomic Pathology, American Journal of Surgical Pathology, Skeletal Radiology, Human Pathology and others. Siegal is the recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and the College of American Pathologists Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wyss Widget

J. Michael Wyss, Ph.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology in the School of Medicine. Wyss came to UAB in 1993 as assistant professor of anatomy and was later promoted to professor; he also has appointments as a senior scientist for many UAB centers.

Wyss conducted groundbreaking research to define the mechanisms through which the central nervous system controls cardiovascular homeostasis and elucidated the mechanisms underlying changes in learning and memory during maturation and aging; he maintains an annual funding level of $3.2 million. He has published approximately 250 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and is senior associate editor for Current Hypertension and the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, associate editor for Neural Plasticity and review editor for Frontiers in Vascular Physiology. Wyss has received the Friend of AMSTI Award and the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering, plus the UAB Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship.

Mrug Widget

Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D., was named University Professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Mrug joined UAB in 2005 as assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, which she chairs.

Mrug is a internationally known researcher of adolescent development who examines topics such as adolescent antisocial behavior, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, violence, physical health and peer influences. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has been principal investigator on more than a dozen externally funded grants. She reviews dozens of grants and manuscripts each year and is on the editorial boards of four peer-reviewed journals.

The rank of Distinguished Professor is a campuswide appointment that recognizes international accomplishments to confer richly deserved prestige and honor on those selected to receive this designation. The rank of University Professor is a campuswide appointment primarily prestigious in a specific discipline and confers an academic rank that transcends departmental and disciplinary lines; is to allow each designated individual the greatest latitude in teaching, writing, and scholarly research. Review the criteria online.