• History professor Jack Davis won the Pulitzer Prize in History for his book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea (see profile of Davis).
  • The University of Florida is one of only five institutions to receive the 2018 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, celebrating initiatives such as the UF International Center’s Learning without Borders. Political science professor Leonardo Villalón is dean of the UF International Center.
  • Psychology professor Dorothy Espelage was elected to the National Academy of Education.
  • Professors of philosophy Jaime Ahlberg and Jennifer Rothschild have each received grant funding from the Center for Ethics and Education — $30,000 and $40,000 respectively.
  • Biology major Aaron Sandoval ’20 has been awarded a Goldwater Fellowship for the 2018–19 year. Math major Andrew Sack ’19 received an honorable mention.
  • Braman Professor of Holocaust Studies Norman Goda was awarded a faculty fellowship from the Deutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst to partially fund research for his book on the Klaus Barbie trial.
  • Statistics professor Malay Ghosh received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Indian Statistical Association.
  • UF’s LitiGators, the Mock Trial team, for the first time qualified to take two teams to Nationals.
  • Tom Bianchi was named a Fellow of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.
  • Tiffany Paul, undergraduate student in the Department of Physics, was named a 2016 Goldwater Scholar to support her research in condensed matter physics and quantum transitions.
  • Thomas Bianchi, UF professor of geological sciences, was named a fellow of the American Geochemical Society.
  • Grant Simpson, graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, was named a 2017 Gates Scholar to attend the University of Cambridge. He will work on the chemical synthesis of more effective cancer therapeutics.
  • Jack Putz, professor of biology and forestry, received a Jefferson Science Fellowship to support his work in sustainable forest management and conservation-oriented policy frameworks.
  • Two Liberal Arts and Sciences alumni were listed on Forbes’ “30 Under 30”: Gloria Tavera ’09, president of the board of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, and Ryan Ross ’10, program director of Halcyon Incubator.
  • Justin Crepp MS’05, PhD’08, professor at Notre Dame, received an NSF CAREER Award for the development of a telescope that corrects for atmospheric turbulence, creating clearer images that allow for improved detection of exoplanets.
  • Leslie Elin Anderson, UF professor of political science, received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for her book project, Democratic Enclaves in Times of Trouble: The Politics of Resistance in Nicaragua.

Professor of Anthropology Richard Kernaghan receives an ACLS fellowship for new book project.

Richard Kernaghan, assistant professor of anthropology at UF, has received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to pursue his new book project, Semblance in Terrain: On the Legal Topographies of Postwar, in Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley. Expanding upon the work of his previous book, Coca’s Gone, Kernaghan draws on his more than 20 years of experience in a region historically linked to the Andean cocaine trade. Semblance in Terrain examines how following the military defeat of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency, new relations between physical geography, territory and rural transit emerge, while carrying forth traces of political violence.

To simply write about the largely “undocumented” history of the Huallaga Valley does not illuminate its transformation through the milieu of war, development, and daily life. Nor does anthropology benefit from secondary glances at bureaucratic charts or casual histories — which barely exist for the Huallaga Valley, anyway — or histories devoid of spatial and behavioral shifts. To tell a fuller story of the Valley, Kernaghan combines the methods of ethnography, historical inquiry, and photography.

Richard Kernaghan with river behind him
Richard Kernaghan in the field


Kernaghan began his research on Peru in 1995 as part of his doctoral studies at Columbia University, and he’s been returning to the Huallaga Valley ever since to conduct fieldwork. “When I made my initial visit in the mid-1990s, the military conflict was still unfolding,” he says. One of the most striking features of everyday life in the Huallaga of those years was how the valley’s rural expanses seemed at once politically remote and charged with danger. “Early on, it was hard to travel in the countryside for more than very brief visits,” he recalls. On the main road, the likelihood of insurgent ambushes and the wide-distribution of military checkpoints frequently interrupted transit. News spread through rumors swirling with flimsy accounts and unfettered hype, affirming the apparent danger. And yet Kernaghan says the stories people told of their own experiences were what he found most remarkable. “It was stunning — the ways they could combine deep-seated dread with moments of wonder or surprising turns of fate,” he says. As they shared accounts of prior events, they also told of what was transpiring in the countryside, conveying concrete advice about where it was not yet safe to go. In so doing they illuminated and re-enforced territorial practices — a crucial aspect of what Kernaghan’s new book explores.

Semblance in Terrain describes how attention to rural mobility in the wake of a counter-insurgency war can serve as a critical lens for reading and registering histories of violence. During his ethnographic research for the book, Kernaghan accompanied people who have spent their lives shuttling others around the valley in rafts, canoes, pickup trucks or three-wheeled auto rickshaws. His project description says it most succinctly: “I track transformations of rural routes, spatial prohibitions, and land ownership by analyzing the personal histories and material practices of current and former transportation workers (transportistas).” Despite its war-time military importance, the Huallaga Valley has not figured prominently in scholarly studies of Peru’s internal conflict. Literature on this region tends to be policy-oriented and relatively removed from the everyday experiences of the area’s longtime residents. Kernaghan contends that the voices and accounts of transportistas not only deserve to be heard, but also that without them, territorial transformations of the post-war era cannot be understood.

As the conflict has waned, new legal conditions have emerged — these have made it easier for to document how the new road construction and the expansion of rural mobilities have altered local topographies in visible yet unappreciated ways. Scenes of transportistas and their vehicles fill a new special digital collection at UF’s Smathers Libraries. Comprising almost 250 photographs and video clips, the collection constitutes an important part of his ethnographic work. In a core practice of visual anthropology, Kernaghan is creating conversation between both the photographic memories and the verbal images transmitted through the accounts of transportistas. “By setting different kinds of images side by side, I show that war does not end by ending,” says Kernaghan in his project description.

Kernaghan will finish the book, which is about halfway done, over the next year with support from the fellowship. It will be published by Stanford University Press, which also published Coca’s Gone.

See this article and additional photography on Exposure.

Reitze wins 2017 National Academy of Sciences Award for scientific discovery.

On April 20, 2017, David Reitze, UF professor of physics and current director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Waves Observatory (LIGO) at Caltech, will be recognized by the National Academy of Sciences for his leadership at LIGO, which has detected two chirps of gravitational waves from colliding black holes. The discovery is significant because it demonstrates that the fabric of space-time is rippled by enormous outputs of energy, as Albert Einstein predicted in 1916. Learn more about gravitational waves and their detection, below.

portrait of David Reitze
David Reitze


Reitze was instrumental in LIGO’s growth into a state-of-the-art facility capable of precise detection of faraway, long-ago cosmic events. He built an interdisciplinary team of scientists, several of whom continue to work at UF on its LIGO team. Indeed, the UF LIGO team designed the algorithm that enabled the detection of the gravitational waves.


Further Reading

The Iron Man of UF has won again. Professor of Chemistry George Christou, known for his research in nano-magnets, has received the SEC Faculty Achievement Award for his accomplishments. The Southeastern Conference, an athletic association comprising 14 academic institutions, has honored one faculty member from each institution for the past six years. This year, they surprised Christou with the award in his classroom — an appropriate place, considering Christou’s numerous honors for his teaching excellence.

George Christou holds model of molecule

George Christou in his office with a molecule model Bernard Brzezinski/UF Photography

Previously, Christou, who serves as the Drago Chair of Chemistry, was named UF’s Teacher-Scholar of the Year for 2015–2016. Christou has also been appointed to the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, an honorary organization of exceptional professors and the advisory board to the Provost’s Office.

Christou has received international acclaim for his discovery of single-molecule magnets and metal-oxo clusters—microscopic, long-lasting substances with applications to medical, computing, and industrial technologies. The United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Chemistry awarded Christou the 2016 Nyholm Prize for Inorganic Chemistry for his pioneering work. Christou was also one of only two Florida chemists named as a fellow of the American Chemical Society for 2016.

Professor Leslie Elin Anderson investigates Nicaraguan politics.

Professor of Political Science Leslie Elin Anderson has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her book project, Democratic Enclaves in Times of Trouble: The Politics of Resistance in Nicaragua. The fellowship is part of the NEH’s $16.3 million awarded in this grant cycle.

“I have been studying Nicaragua since the mid 1980s, and I watched democracy rise and develop out of the 1979 revolution.” The coup, organized by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), unseated President Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979 and ended the 46-year Somoza regime. The US financially supported the contras, an armed militia opposing the FSLN, but the Sandinistas continued to hold power until 1990, when they lost to pluralistic candidates. They regained power in 2006 and still retain power under President Daniel Ortega after presidential term limits were lifted and the threshold for election voting was lowered. “Now democracy is in decline and the nation is struggling to keep its democracy alive,” says Anderson.

Anderson’s book will examine the effects of the patchwork of pluralistic and rightist enclaves in Nicaragua throughout the Sandinista regime as a measure of how local democratic efforts intersect with regime-oriented leadership. “It feels absolutely breathtaking to have a major foundation like the NEH recognize my work and support it,” she says.

Congratulating and celebrating faculty and student achievement.

Daniel Aldridge ’16, Neuroscience, and Nicholas Pasternack ’16, Immunology

  • 2016 Frost Scholarship for Master’s study at the University of Oxford

Center for European Studies

  • 2016 National Endowment for the Humanities grant for “Dialogues on the Experiences of War”

George Christou, Chemistry

  • 2016 Nyholm Prize in Inorganic Chemistry
  • 2016 Fellow of the American Chemistry Society
  • 2016 Southern Chemist Award from the American Chemical Society

Pamela K. Gilbert, English

  • 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship

Barbara Mennel, English: Film Studies and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

  • 2016 Marie Skłodowaska-Curie FCFP Senior Fellowship

Brent Sumerlin, Chemistry

  • 2016 Hanwha-Total IUPAC Young Scientist Award from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Robert Walker, Geography, Center for Latin American Studies, with Yankuic Galvan-Miyoshi, postdoctoral researcher at UF

  • $375,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Spatial Sciences program in 2016

Luise White, History and Center for African Studies

  • 2016 National Humanities Center Fellowship

In October 2016, Dr. William H. Marquardt, Affiliate Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Athens, GA. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a senior scholar who has made significant and sustained contributions to southeastern archaeology during her or his career.
According to the SEAC, Marquardt qualified for the award by:


  • engaging the public with archaeology through outreach, educational, and tourism programs


  • showing an entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary spirit in academia
    mentoring young archaeologists and providing them with opportunities to present their work


  • seminal research on the Calusa of South Florida


Says Marquardt, “It is always nice to be recognized, but almost all of my work has been team-based, so the award is also for generations of students, colleagues, and volunteers who have added so much to my work.”


Read more about Marquardt and his accomplishments on Exposure.

UF’s Nancy Rose Hunt Receives Major Book Award for Congo History

Nancy Rose Hunt, UF professor of history and African studies, has received the Martin A. Klein Award honoring the best histories of Africa. The American Historical Association will present the award to Hunt in January 2017 during their 131st Annual Meeting.

A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo, published this year by Duke University Press, focuses on the effects of colonial rule of the Congo on social, reproductive, and mental health and introduces into the literature the healing cults that were formed in response. Hunt discusses the Belgian Congo’s postwar push for development and the injustice it layered in the infrastructure, such as through the siting of an infertility clinic where a penal colony and an abuse-laced factory stood. She explores the rise of dreamscape songs and expressive dance among the Congolese healing from the wounds left by King Leopold’s rule, challenging the typical catastrophe narrative of the Belgian Congo in favor of an ethnography of its people’s recovery from violence. Also a filmmaker and visual anthropologist, Hunt fuses her creative sense with her background as an archivist to produce A Nervous State, a well-crafted and enlightening medical history of the Congo in the early-to-mid 20th century.

Hunt’s previous accolades include the Herskovits Book Prize for her first book, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Work, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke, 1999), and numerous fellowships for archival and ethnographic research in Africa and Europe.

Robert Walker of the Center for Latin American Studies and international team receive award to study effects of neoliberal policy on Mexican farming practices and their impact on deforestation.

UF’s Department of Geography and Center for Latin American Studies have received a major award from the National Science Foundation to study shifting agricultural practices in a globalized Mexico and their impact on deforestation. The $375,000 award from the Geography and Spatial Sciences program will fund a project titled “International Trade Agreements, Globalization, Land Change, and Agricultural Food Networks.”

The research, to be conducted in Mexico, investigates links between spatial shifts in that country’s forest biomes and neoliberal reforms associated with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT; precursor to the World Trade Organization) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The project will be led by Dr. Robert Walker, of the UF Center for Latin American Studies and Geography, in collaboration with Co-PI Yankuic Galvan-Miyoshi, a postdoctoral researcher at UF. Economic geographer Dr. Barney Warf, from the University of Kansas, will also participate.

The research involves a large-scale, three-year survey of Mexican feedlots to ascertain the spatial reconfiguration of maize and beef commodity chains stemming from shifts in trade policy and globalization. It will then determine the extent to which changing commodity chains explain regional patterns of forest loss and regeneration across Mexico as a whole.

The project involves an international team of researchers, including agronomist Dr. Ema Maldonado from Universidade Autonoma de Chapingo (Estado de Mexico), soil scientist Dr. Marta Astier from Universidade Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), and environmental scientist Dr. Omar Masera, who directs UNAM’s Bioenergy Laboratory.