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Supporting Research Trailblazers

Article Originally published in the June 2006 issue of CLASnotes.

Six college faculty have been named to the 2006 class of UF Research Foundation (UFRF) professors for their distinguished record of research and strong research agendas expected to lead to continuing distinction in their fields. The three-year professorships, funded by the university’s share of royalty and licensing income from UF-generated products, include a $5,000 annual salary supplement and a one-time $3,000 grant.

Leslie Anderson

Leslie Anderson
Leslie Anderson

Associate Professor of Political Science Leslie Anderson has distinguished herself through her strong commitment to both her department and to the Center for Latin American Studies, of which she is an affiliate. Her research specialty is the study of democratic development in newly democratic settings, particularly in Latin America, and her findings have proved to be globally applicable and relevant.

Her 2005 book, co-written with Lawrence Dodd, Learning Democracy: Citizen Engagement and Electoral Choice in Nicaragua, 1990-2001, is regarded as a model of how to do comparative research within modern political science. She is currently writing “Politics on Faith,” exploring the role of citizen values in furthering democratic development. In 1996 she won her department’s first NSF grant and was recently awarded her second, along with Dodd, to continue work on the electoral and participatory politics of the poor.

Michael Heckenberger

Michael Heckenberger
Michael Heckenberger

Michael Heckenberger is an associate professor of anthropology whose research in the Amazon has debunked views of small primitive tribes living in unchanged virgin tropical forests—redefining anthropology’s outdated conceptions of “primitiveness” and its relation to “progress.”

His work in the Xingu Basin of Brazil over the past decade has demonstrated a large, vibrant population that, over the centuries leading up to 1492, had transformed the tropical forest into complex, managed landscapes. His 2004 book, The Ecology of Power, revealed the existence of regional chiefdoms in the ancient Amazon that rivaled the complexity of any comparable age across the globe—stirring debate among those with western notions of wilderness and primitiveness.

Heckenberger leads the Southern Amazon Ethnoarchaeology Project, collaborating with colleagues at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro researching indigenous groups in Brazil, and is an affiliate curator for the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Jonathan Martin

Jonathan Martin
Jonathan Martin

Associate Professor of Geology Jonathan Martin is a world leader in the field of hydrology and is working to help the state better manage its water resources. He has been appointed by Governor Jeb Bush as one of 16 scientists on the Florida Springs Task Force and had a leadership role in the development of the UF Water Institute, an interdisciplinary initiative dedicated to understanding the physical and biological processes that affect the quantity and quality of our water.

Martin’s work focuses on understanding the chemically complex interactions between fluids and rocks in both marine and terrestrial environments. He has taken the lead in applying modern chemical principles to better understand one of the mysteries of Florida’s groundwater system—the diffuse flow of groundwater into the ocean—which has won support from numerous state and federal agencies. He is associate editor of the journal Ground Water.

Ata Sarajedini

Ata Sarajedini
Ata Sarajedini

Ata Sarajedini is an associate professor of astronomy and a world-renowned leader in the area of stellar populations. From the start of his career, he achieved recognition for his promise—receiving prestigious back-to-back Kitt Peak and Hubble postdoctoral fellowships after receiving his PhD at Yale in 1992. Upon arriving at UF in 2001 he was awarded a coveted Faculty Early Career Development Award from the NSF.

His research is focused on understanding the star formation and chemical enrichment histories of the local group of galaxies to which the Milky Way belongs. He has published 91 papers in refereed journals and serves as president of the star clusters commission of the International Astronomical Union.

Sarajedini is also the principal investigator on an international team of astronomers studying globular star clusters and creating an archive of images and data using the Hubble Space Telescope. Sarajedini is also this month’s grant feature.

Kirk Schanze

Kirk Schanze
Kirk Schanze

Professor of Chemistry Kirk Schanze is a leader in the field of organic and inorganic photochemistry and is one of his department’s most active scholars, publishing nearly 70 articles in the past five years alone.

His research focuses on the interaction of light with small molecules, polymers and materials—with a particular interest in the photochemical and photophysical processes stimulated when molecular systems absorb light.

Most of his current work, funded by the NSF, the Department of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, explores the phenomenon of luminescence and solar energy conversion. Schanze edited the premier set of books in his field, Molecular and Supramolecular Photochemistry, and serves as senior editor of the American Chemical Society’s journal, Langmuir.

Pierre Sikivie

Pierre Sikivie
Pierre Sikivie

Pierre Sikivie is a professor of physics who has spent his long and distinguished career seeking to understand the mysterious dark matter of the universe. Astrophysicists have concluded that more than 80 percent of the matter in the universe is non-luminous “dark matter,” but little is known of its composition. It is suspected that this missing mass resides in an elementary particle, and science has zeroed in on two possibilities: axions and weakly interacting massive particles.

Sikivie has created novel experimentation methods to detect axions, which are now being implemented in a large-scale study at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He and colleagues have also developed a new model for studying the structure of galactic halos and the distribution of dark matter enveloping the luminous components of spiral galaxies. In 1996, he was awarded the Jesse W. Beams Award from the American Physical Society for his work on dark matter detection.

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Buffy Lockette

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