Humanists, Engineer named 2019 Distinguished Professors

The renowned professors’ work spans cultural diaspora and migration experiences, the meaning of truth in the modern world, and hydrometeorological predication of severe weather events.

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors Emmanouil N. Anagnostou, Michael Patrick Lynch, and Cathy Schlund-Vials. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors Emmanouil N. Anagnostou, Michael Patrick Lynch, and Cathy Schlund-Vials. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Three UConn professors were given the University’s highest academic honor this week as the UConn Board of Trustees announced three new Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors.

The award recognizes faculty who have achieved exceptional distinction in scholarship, teaching, and service while at the University of Connecticut. The Distinguished Professorships have been awarded annually since 1998.

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Emmanouil N. Anagnostou is an internationally known expert in the area of hydrometeorology and has played a major role in outage predictions for utility providers throughout New England.

He is the founding director of the Eversource Energy Center and applied research director of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation. Through a series of groundbreaking discoveries in the field of hydrometeorology, Anagnostou distinguished himself as a leading authority on the complex physical processes that shape the hydrological cycle and enable accurate and timely prediction of severe weather and flash floods. Several of his contributions involve the combination of multiple sensors from different satellite platforms based on physical considerations, which led to the expansion of the frontiers of precipitation measurement at a global scale.

During the course of his career, Anagnostou has published 170 peer-reviewed papers and eight book chapters and has given more than 200 invited talks. His work is supported by 12 active federal and industry grants totaling more than $13 million. He is the lead investigator on a $4.4 million National Science Foundation PIRE grant that investigates means to improve water and food security in Ethiopia. In 2011, he received the UConn Alumni Association’s Excellence in Research Award. Internationally, he has been recognized with the EGU Plinius Medal and the European Commission Marie Curie Excellence Award.

Anagnostou is a committed educator who has shaped the curriculum in his department and developed a new professional education certificate. He has supervised 17 Ph.D. students and 13 MS students. Anagnostou serves his professional communities as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Hydrology, conference chair and convener in numerous international conferences, and advisor to national and international scientific organizations.

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Michael Patrick Lynch is the director of the Humanities Institute and leader of the New England Humanities Consortium. He has given distinguished lectures throughout the world, and his 2017 TED talk on seeing past your own perspective has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.

His four books on the topic of truth have introduced a new theory of its nature and value. His 2016 work, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, is credited in the media with coining the term “Google-knowing.”

Lynch’s work on public discourse and polarization culminated in the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project, funded by a $1 million UConn Academic Vision award and a $6 million research grant from the John Templeton Foundation; reportedly, the largest U.S. grant given in the humanities to a single investigator. Lynch is an enthusiastic and well-loved teacher and has long taught a popular introduction to philosophy course. In 2007, in coordination with the UConn Center for Teaching and Learning, he developed the nationally innovative Philosophy Department Graduate Student Teaching Development Program.

Under his leadership, the Humanities Institute has increased its campus profile and space and doubled the number of external fellowship applications, and increased its conference and colloquia offerings. Lynch founded and leads the New England Humanities Consortium, a group of 11 colleges and universities whose mission is to support humanities scholarship.

Lynch’s popular work has appeared in The New York Times, the Guardian, and The Chronicle Review, and has been the subject of profiles in The New Yorker, Wired, and The Washington Post, among many others. Among his many accolades, Lynch received the 2011 Faculty Excellence in Research Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Cathy Schlund-Vials is a professor of English and Asian and Asian American studies. She is associate dean for Humanities and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and interim director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She served as the director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute from 2009-2018 and has been the chair of the UConn Reads committee since 2015. She was the recipient of the Association for Asian American Studies’ Early Career Award in 2013 and served as the organization’s president from 2016-2018.

A Cambodian-American scholar, Schlund-Vials’s work is rooted in a personal history marked by statelessness, migration, and diaspora, and her scholarship examines moments of dislocation, rupture, and movement. Schlund-Vials is recognized as one of the leading and most productive scholars in the fields of Asian American studies, ethnic American literary studies, critical refugee studies, Southeast Asian American studies, and comparative ethnic studies.

Schlund-Vials is the author of two monographs and has edited or co-edited 11 collections. Her first book, Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing, was a well-reviewed comparison of two “model minority groups.” Her second monograph, War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work, accentuated refugee subjectivity, international law, and human rights.

Schlund-Vials received the 2016 Faculty Excellence in Research Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the American Association of University Professors’ Teaching Promise award in 2011. She has supervised seven undergraduate university scholar projects and five IDEA grant initiatives; she has also served as the major thesis advisor for 13 honors students. At the graduate level, she has served as a major advisor for 17 graduate students and has been an associate advisor on 35 committees.