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Eight faculty members appointed to named professorships

February 15, 2022

The positions honor their leadership as researchers, scholars, and teachers.

Several faculty members at the University of Rochester have been appointed to named professorships. An honor designed to recognize the national stature of a professor’s work, the named positions are part of a long-standing tradition to celebrate the work of Rochester’s faculty as researchers, scholars, and teachers. In the second half of 2021, there were eight appointments.


Dora Biro

Dora Biro, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, has been jointly appointed as the Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Biro’s research focuses on the mechanisms that underlie group living in animals. Using field observations, GPS, accelerometry, head-mounted sensors, camera-trapping, facial recognition software, and other data-gathering techniques, combined with mathematical modeling, Biro explores social behavior, problem solving, and learning in birds and primates.

The professorship was named for the late Charles ’46M (PhD) and the late Beverly Petterson Bishop ’46 (MA).


Kara Bren

Kara Bren, a professor of chemistry, has been appointed as the Richard Eisenberg Professor in Chemistry.

Bren’s research interests lie in the fields of bioinorganic and biophysical chemistry. The Bren group has developed new methods for engineering and characterizing metalloproteins in the cytochrome c family, contributing to our understanding of how protein structure dictates protein dynamics and function.

The position is named in recognition of Richard Eisenberg, the Tracy H. Harris Professor Emeritus of Chemistry.


Peter Knight

Peter Knight, a professor of surgery, has been jointly appointed as the Dr. Jude S. Sauer Family Distinguished Professor in Cardiac Surgery. He retains his joint appointment as chief of cardiac surgery.

Knight is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. His areas of interest include valve repair and replacement, off-pump surgery, multiarterial bypass grafts, and aortic surgery.

The distinguished professorship was established by a gift from Jude Sauer ’81, ’85M (MD), ’88M (Res), his wife, Eva Sauer ’89M (Flw), and their family.


Thomas Mariani

Thomas Mariani, a professor of pediatrics, has been appointed as the David H. Smith Professor in Pediatrics. Mariani retains his joint appointments as a professor of biomedical genetics and of environmental medicine.

Mariani’s laboratory works to identify the genetic mechanisms of susceptibility to chronic lung diseases, with a particular focus on their developmental antecedents and the influence of environmental factors.

The professorship is named in honor of David Smith ’58M (MD), who led a team of Rochester scientists in developing a successful vaccine against bacterial meningitis.


Michael Neidig

Michael Neidig, a professor of chemistry, has been appointed as the Marshall D. Gates, Jr. Professor of Chemistry.

Neidig’s lab focuses on non-precious metal catalysis in organic chemistry, with the long-term goal of elevating our understanding of iron- and cobalt-catalyzed organic transformations to the level currently available for palladium catalysis.

The position is named for Marshall Gates, who was on the Department of Chemistry faculty from 1949 to 1981, when he retired.


George Porter

George Porter, a professor of pediatrics, has been appointed as the Rhea and Raymond White Professor in Pediatric Cardiology. Porter retains his joint appointments as a professor of pharmacology and physiology and of medicine in the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Porter’s laboratory studies mechanisms that control cardiac development, concentrating on the roles played by the intracellular organelles, mitochondria. He is the site principal investigator at Rochester for the Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium, which has enrolled more than 10,000 patients with congenital heart defects to perform genotype-phenotype correlation using advanced genetic testing.

The Rhea and Raymond White Fund in Pediatrics was established in 1994 with a gift from the estate of Raymond White ’35 for general support of Golisano Children’s Hospital. In December 2018, the fund was revised to the Rhea and Raymond White Professorship in Pediatric Cardiology.


David Siegel

David Siegel, a professor of pediatrics, has been jointly appointed as the Northumberland Trust Professor in Pediatrics.

Siegel’s research interests are high-risk sexual behavior prevention and descriptive and natural history studies of pediatric rheumatologic diseases, such as juvenile arthritis and fibromyalgia syndrome.

 The position was established by an anonymous donor.


Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson, a professor of pediatrics, has been appointed as the Ruth A. Lawrence Professor in Pediatrics.

Wilson has more than 20 years of experience researching the impact of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure on children, tobacco smoke exposure in multi-unit housing, and how to help parents quit smoking. More recently, she has developed a research program in secondhand marijuana smoke exposure and has called attention to concerns over children’s exposure with increased legalization.

The professorship honors internationally recognized pediatrician Ruth Lawrence ’49M (MD), a professor emerita of pediatrics at the Medical Center.



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Category: University News