McKnight Professorship recipients announced

Ten University of Minnesota assistant professors received the grant.

Ten University of Minnesota assistant professors will have the opportunity to expand their professional horizons after receiving the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in December. Competing with more than 30 other nominated assistant professors, recipients of the award were recognized for their professional promise and innovation in their field by a faculty committee named by the Office of the Vice President for Research. The recipients will begin their appointments this July. The program consists of a two-year research grant, totaling $32,500 each year, and a leave of absence in the second year, which the grant recipients can use to either opt out of teaching or collect extra money for their projects. Department of Soil, Water and Climate professor Dylan Millet will be collaborating with graduate students by utilizing satellite measurements to determine how the Earth’s land surface affects the chemical makeup of the atmosphere. Millet sees many upsides to the program. “I think this is one way the University can really support their strongest faculty and get them to stick around” said Millet. Created in 1987, the grant is designed to reward the University’s most promising junior faculty. The award is based on a variety of factors that pertain to the professor’s entire body of work. “[Committee members] look at their publication record, research, letters of recommendation and their candidate’s statement on their research” said Myrna Smith, director of internal grants and awards. Grant recipients study topics from the Dead Sea Scrolls to atmospheric chemistry. All junior faculty members employed at any department or University campus are eligible for the award. Smith said the program has potential to make a significant impact, since former recipients have “become department heads and gone onto well-established careers.” Gary Balas was awarded the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in 1993. He became head of the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics department three years ago. Balas believes that the McKnight program allows you to dedicate more time to research and work more closely with students. “I think it’s the one award that has the most impact at the University,” said Balas.