IU Bloomington Names Sonneborn Award Recipient, Provost Professors

(BLOOMINGTON) – Catherine Bowman, a professor in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, will receive the 2020 Tracy M. Sonneborn Award, which honors an Indiana University Bloomington faculty member for outstanding research/creative activity and teaching. She has also been named a Provost Professor.

The Indiana University seal is seen carved into a limestone building behind tree blossoms
IU Bloomington has named the 2020 Tracy M. Sonneborn Award winner and Provost Professors. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

Three other IU Bloomington faculty members have also been named a Provost Professor: Deborah Cohn, Jonathon Crystal, and Brenda Weber, all from the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Professors Bowman, Cohn, Crystal and Weber have brought great distinction to Indiana University through their exemplary research and have enriched the lives of countless students through their teaching and mentorship,” Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Eliza Pavalko said.

“It is a great pleasure to see them receive the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Bowman will present the annual Sonneborn Lecture at a reception at a time and location to be announced at a later date. Provost Professors also will be honored at the reception.

The Sonneborn award and lecture are named for the late IU biologist Tracy M. Sonneborn, a renowned geneticist who was highly regarded for his teaching. The Provost Professor position, called Chancellor’s Professor when it was created in 1995, honors those who have achieved local, national and international distinction in both teaching and research/creative activity.

The Sonneborn Award includes a $3,500 cash award and a $1,000 grant to support research or creative activity by a student. Provost Professors receive an annual award of $2,500 for three years and a $5,000 grant for a project that demonstrates how teaching and research are mutually reinforcing.

Past winners of the Sonneborn Award and faculty who have been designated Provost Professors can be seen at the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs website.

Catherine Bowman

Bowman, an English professor who joined the Department of English faculty in 1998, was the Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry from 2005 to 2011 and directed the department’s creative writing program from 2005 to 2012. She was editor of the anthology “Word of Mouth: Poems Featured on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered.'” The anthology was the result of the six-year collaboration with NPR and featured the work of 33 poets, all interviewed and featured by Bowman.

Catherine Bowman
Catherine Bowman. Photo courtesy of the Department of English

Bowman has been awarded the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for poetry, the Dobie Paisano fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry and four Yaddo fellowships. She has received a faculty teaching award and the IU President’s Arts and Humanities Award. Her poems have appeared in six editions of “Best American Poetry” as well as in many other literary magazines and journals.

Bowman is dedicated to her teaching, embracing different pedagogical techniques. Starting in 2015, she was invited by Renmin University Press and Renmin University in Beijing to deliver lectures and talks on creative writing to a large audience from all over China. She completed that lecture series over three summers. She is currently under contract with Renmin University Press to complete a book on the craft of writing, soon to be published.

Deborah Cohn

Deborah Cohn is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and has been department chair for six years. She joined the IU faculty in 2001 and serves as the associate director of the College Arts and Humanities Institute. She will serve as its interim director in 2020.

A headshot of Deborah Cohn
Deborah Cohn. Photo courtesy of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese

In addition to her success in teaching students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Cohn has made significant contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom. She has received teaching awards in two departments, including the Trustees Teaching Award in American studies.

She is a prolific, interdisciplinary author whose research and publications in the new interdisciplinary field of Cold War studies have become known as definitive works. One such article, “In Between Propaganda and Escapism: William Faulkner as Cold War Ambassador,” examines the American novelist’s lesser-known role as an ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. The article was published in the journal Diplomatic History in 2016. Reviewer Greg Barnhisel said, “Cohn’s article will certainly prove to be the definitive account of Faulkner’s work on behalf of his nation, as well as an excellent example of the ‘new Cold War studies.'”

Cohn has served on the Mexico Remixed Planning Committee, the Arts and Humanities Council, the College Policy Committee, and the College’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. She is the current president of Phi Beta Kappa.

Jonathon Crystal

Jonathon Crystal is professor of psychological and brain sciences who came to IU in 2010. He has served as director and interim director of the Program in Neuroscience, director of undergraduate studies in the Cognitive Science Program, and a faculty member for the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.

Jonathon Crystal
Jonathon Crystal. Photo courtesy of the Department of Psychological and Brian Sciences

Crystal is recognized as a world leader in comparative cognition who specializes in memory and perception of time and developing new animal models of episodic memory. One benefit of studying cognition in animals is the potential to provide insight into cognitive impairments observed in people. His focus is on the types of memory impaired in human diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of treatments.

Crystal has served as the primary investigator on several grants awarded from the National Institutes of Health. He has been editor-in-chief of the major journal Learning & Behavior and has served as president of Division 3 of the American Psychological Association, Society for Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science, among others.

Brenda R. Weber

Brenda R. Weber is a professor in the Department of Gender Studies and the inaugural Jean C. Robinson Scholar in Gender Studies for contributions to both research and administration. She received her Ph.D. from Miami University of Ohio in 2001. Weber came to IU in 2003 as a visiting assistant professor and became appointed faculty the following year. She recently completed a four-year term as department chair. She holds adjunct appointments with several units on campus.

Brenda R. Weber
Brenda R. Weber. Photo courtesy of the Department of Gender Studies

Weber’s work engages with a wide archive of mostly “discredited” texts and contemporary media, specifically literature, film and television. Her interest lies in how identity is discursively gendered, constructed and embodied through written and mediated means, as well as how gender, sex, sexuality, race and class work together to inform notions of the “normative” self. Important themes, such as celebrity, masculinity and American religious cultures, offer her a framework for coherency across the many modalities in which she works.

She is regarded by her peers, both locally and internationally, as an intellectual leader with a distinguished career who makes important contributions to the academy and to public conversations on gender. Weber has published three monograph books, one of which is now widely used in undergraduate and graduate classrooms. She is considered as knowledgeable counsel to organizations and an important voice in the media, both locally and nationally. She is much-sought-after as a keynote speaker at conferences and other events.

Weber is committed to the emerging field of women, gender and sexuality studies, as well as to educational excellence. She has served as director for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Weber has worked to eliminate potential barriers to student engagement and learning, including developing an undergraduate student club.

Information from News at IU Bloomington