U.Va. Announces Distinguished Scientist Award Winners

By Melissa Maki
Duling and Shugart

Brian Duling (left) and Hank Shugart (right)
Photos by Tom Cogill

November 9, 2006 -- The Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (VPRGS) is pleased to announce two inaugural winners of the University of Virginia Distinguished Scientist Award: Brian R. Duling, a prominent cardiovascular researcher, and Herman H. “Hank” Shugart Jr., leading systems ecologist.

The Distinguished Scientist Award was created by the Office of the VPRGS to honor longtime U.Va. faculty in science, medicine, or engineering who have made extensive and influential contributions to research in their fields.

Duling currently serves as the Robert M. Berne Chair in Cardiovascular Research in the School of Medicine, and holds a professorship in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics.  His research has shaped the study and understanding of microcirculation and vascular biology.

Shugart is the W.W. Corcoran Professor of Environmental Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biology.  He also serves as director of the Center for Regional Environmental Studies at U.Va.  Shugart’s work has encouraged a paradigm shift in the field of ecology—to include the recognition that forests are dynamic, ever-changing systems.

“Brian Duling and Hank Shugart both exemplify the meaning of the Distinguished Scientist Award,” said R. Ariel Gomez, vice president for research and graduate studies.  “They have been outstanding contributors in their respective fields of study, and as a result, they have brought great distinction to the University of Virginia.  I am delighted to recognize these remarkable researchers for their substantial and enduring efforts.”

Nominations for the 2006-07 Distinguished Scientist Award were accepted from U.Va. faculty and department chairs.  The nominees were judged on publications, awards, peer reviews, and impact upon a field of study, both nationally and internationally.  Awardees will receive a $10,000 grant to enhance their research activities.

Brian R. Duling

Brian R. Duling received his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Iowa in 1967.  After a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Robert M. Berne, he began his career at U.Va. in 1968 as an instructor of physiology.  Since then he has served in a variety of capacities within the University, including vice-chair of the Department of Physiology and founding director of the Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center. 

“Brian Duling is a world-class scientist with vision for science in medicine,” said Arthur Garson Jr., vice president and dean of the School of Medicine.  “He has been a pioneer for cardiovascular medicine at the University, with the development of the Cardiovascular Research Center and its associated training programs.  Brian is most deserving of this recognition for his many important accomplishments.”

Duling has been honored with a number of prestigious awards over his career—both for teaching and research—including the Robert Bennett Bean Teaching Award, the Brown Award of the American Heart Association, and the Abbott and Malpighi Awards from the European Society for Microcirculation.  He also has served as president of the Microcirculatory Society and the American Physiological Society. 

Duling has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1970 and has brought over $6 million of research support to U.Va. since 2000.  He has published approximately 160 articles in leading physiology journals, many of which are highly cited.  Some of Duling’s early, ground-breaking work in the field is frequently cited today, more than thirty years after publication.

Duling’s current work uses state-of-the-art techniques to investigate the regulation of flow in the cardiovascular system.  He has pioneered the use of the microscope in the investigation of the small blood vessels that control blood flow, and most recently his laboratory has established a co-culture system of endothelial and smooth muscle cells that will allow elucidation of the vital interactions that occur between these two cells.  This novel research has important implications for our overall understanding of the cardiovascular system as well as associated problems such as hypertension.

Herman H. “Hank” Shugart Jr.

Herman H. “Hank” Shugart Jr. received his Ph.D. in zoology in 1971 from the University of Georgia.  He was employed as a senior research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and professor in the Department of Botany and Graduate Program in Ecology at the University of Tennessee before being appointed to U.Va.’s Department of Environmental Sciences in 1984. 

“Hank Shugart is a visionary scientist who has always been able to identify and answer critical questions that span a wide variety of scientific issues,” commented Peter Brunjes, associate dean for the sciences in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.  “His energy and creativity draws people together to work on tough but important problems.”

During his time at U.Va., Shugart has mentored 17 master’s students, 35 doctoral students and 16 postdoctoral research associates—and many of his students have gone on to teach at prominent institutions.  Shugart has produced over 330 publications, including 13 books.  His research has been influential and is frequently referenced, earning him a “Highly Cited Researcher” designation from the Institute of Scientific Information.  Shugart has been named a fellow of both the World Innovation Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He was also the first American ecologist to be named a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.  

Shugart’s latest research involves the innovative computer modeling of forests and entire ecosystems in order to predict the effects of systems interactions and potential stresses such as climate change on forests, vegetation and animals.  At present, Shugart and his laboratory are engaged in a number of significant international and multidisciplinary research projects.  He is the chief scientist for the Northern Eurasian Earth Science Partnership Initiative, a vast research endeavor involving the collaborative efforts of 353 scientists and 186 different institutions.  In addition, Shugart’s lab is contributing to the Global Mammal Assessment—a collaborative project between U.Va. and Conservation International that entails the first comprehensive appraisal of the status of mammal species worldwide.

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