Three professors lauded as emerging scholars

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO—A languages and literatures professor known internationally for his English translations of Japanese poets, a physics professor who has been instrumental in the development of a new method of physics and science education, and a chemistry professor cited as an international rising star in the area of nanomaterials are being recognized by Western Michigan University as the 2012-13 Emerging Faculty Scholars.

Drs. Jeffrey Angles, associate professor of world languages and literatures; Charles Henderson, associate professor of physics; and Sherine Obare, associate professor of chemistry, will be presented the Emerging Faculty Scholar Award during WMU's Academic Convocation ceremonies beginning at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, in the Dalton Center. Convocation activities also will include WMU President John M. Dunn's State of the University address and the presentation of several other faculty, teaching and service awards.

The Emerging Scholar Award program was launched late in 2006 to acknowledge the accomplishments of WMU faculty members who are among the rising stars in U.S. higher education. It is designed to celebrate the contributions of faculty who are in the first decade of their careers at WMU and who, by virtue of their contributions to scholarship or creative activity, have achieved national recognition and demonstrated outstanding promise to achieve renown in their continuing work. The award goes to scholars nominated for consideration through a campuswide selection process and carries a $2,000 cash prize for each recipient.

Photo of Dr. Jeffrey .


Jeffrey Angles

Angles joined the WMU faculty as an assistant professor in 2004 and was promoted to associate professor in 2009. He has served as director of the Soga Japan Center since 2011 and head of the Japanese Language Program from 2004-09 and 2010 to the present.

Angles' work as a literary translator and scholar of modern Japanese literature is regarded as being of the highest quality and has been recognized with several major awards. It has impacted both the scholarly community and the general public, both in the United States and internationally. Angles has produced translations of major Japanese modern and contemporary poets, in particular Tada Chimako and Ito Hiromi.

"Dr. Angles' translations have brought these Japanese writers on life, love and death—the human condition—to English-language readers in the United States and around the world," wrote one nominator. "These projects and others have garnered him important prizes in recent years."

Angles' major awards include the 2011 Harold Landon Translation Prize, the 2009 Japan-U.S. Friendship Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Grant, and a 2008 PEN Translation Grant.

Another colleague cited Angles' fellowships, serving as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and conducting research at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto. In addition, the Kennedy Center asked him to serve as curator of literary events for a special Japan exhibit in 2008.

"In his time at WMU he has amassed an amazing record of publication and presented papers around the world," the colleague wrote. "Moreover, his work is of the highest quality as recognized by the growing number of major awards it has received."

Photo of Dr. Charles .


Charles Henderson

Henderson joined the WMU faculty as an assistant professor in 2002 and joined the faculty in the Mallinson Institute for Science Education in 2004. He was promoted to associate professor in 2008.

Since coming to WMU, Henderson has been involved in grant projects totaling more than $2 million, including awards from the National Science Foundation, the state of Michigan, NASA and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Henderson's scholarly output, which includes 24 peer-reviewed journal articles and a book, "is nothing short of astonishing," wrote a nominator, placing him in high demand as a speaker at conferences, colloquia, workshops and other events.

Henderson has been instrumental in the evolution of physics education research and had an impact on the larger realm of science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM—education, with his extensive research changing the landscape of STEM education.

"It is not often that a faculty member in the first decade of his or her career can be instrumental in the development of a new field of study that influences not only the practice of college teaching nationally and internationally, but the way that it is conceptualized and investigated," wrote the nominator. "Dr. Henderson has done just that."

That sentiment was echoed by a colleague at the Virginia Tech College of Engineering.

"He has anticipated an international movement that is just now gaining momentum," the colleague wrote. "The quality and quantity of his work places him at the forefront of this movement."

Photo of Dr. Sherine .


Sherine Obare

Obare joined the WMU faculty as an assistant professor of chemistry in 2004 and was promoted to associate professor in 2009. She also has been an adjunct professor in the Michigan State University Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science since 2007.

Nominators singled out Obare as "an internationally respected, rising star in the area of nanomaterials." Nominators included an official for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, who noted that she has been able to design nanoscale materials that display important optical, catalytic and electronic properties.

Her research has earned Obare a number of prestigious awards, including the 2006 National Science Foundation CAREER award, a 2007 American Chemical Society Leadership Development Award, and the 2010 National Science Foundation American Competitiveness and Innovation Award, which is given to the top 10 materials scientists each year. Her work also has been published in highly ranked scientific journals and has received more than 1,100 citations.

"Her work has placed her at the forefront of the field," wrote a nominator. "Dr. Obare has made major strides and has gained international recognition for her research and educational activities."

Obare is credited with publishing 44 papers and chapters, including 31 since arriving at WMU. She and her co-authors have made more than 30 presentations at conferences, and her research at WMU has garnered more than $4.7 million in external funding.

Obare reviews papers for 13 different journals and regularly sits on review panels for both the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. She also has been invited to make more than 50 presentations at conferences and universities on four continents.

"Dr. Obare promotes and fosters a high level of scholarship in both education and research and is clearly a rapidly rising star in the scientific community," wrote a colleague at Michigan State University. "Her research has had, and will continue to have, great impact."

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