Five Professors Awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

Distinguished Award Provides Recipients With Financial Backing to Focus on Studies, Research

Photo: Rosemary Joyce, R. Jay Wallace, Dawn Song, Leon O. Chua, Gregory Levine
Rosemary Joyce, R. Jay Wallace, Dawn Song, Leon O. Chua, Gregory Levine

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Five UC Berkeley professors were awarded highly competitive Guggenheim Fellowships this month, giving them the opportunity to devote more time to advancing their research.

The fellowship-a prestigious grant that aims to give scholars and artists the financial backing needed to focus on their studies-was presented to professors Leon O. Chua, Rosemary Joyce, Gregory Levine, Dawn Song and R. Jay Wallace on April 13. Of the 3,000 applicants, only 180 were chosen for the award.

Wallace, a professor of philosophy, is studying human relationships and moral philosophy, theorizing a connection between the two. Wallace will use award money to take a year-long sabbatical and write a book, luxuries he said he might not have been able to afford without assistance.

But for Wallace, the award is more than just a dollar amount. It provides him with the financial aid necessary to further his research and recognition for years of hard work.

"(The Guggenheim Fellowships are) meant partly to acknowledge the accomplishments you've had in the field and support further research so you can make additional contributions," he said. "This is one of the big, the major, fellowships available, especially in humanities and social sciences. There are very few other fellowships that are as prestigious or as honorific."

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was founded in 1925 by U.S. Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife in memory of their son, who died while he was a student at Phillips Exeter Academy, according to Mary Kiffer, assistant secretary for the foundation.

The amount of the award varies, according to Kiffer, and none of the professors stated exactly how much money they received from the fellowship

To be eligible for the fellowship, the foundation requires an essay detailing the significance of the applicant's area of study, letters of recommendation, a financial budget and "lots of waiting with fingers crossed," said Levine, an associate professor of art and architectural history of Japan.

"I'm excited about the time the award allows for research, and I imagine that it will lead me to various discoveries," he said. "This year will directly flow into my undergraduate and graduate teaching upon my return."

Chua said he will travel to Europe to further his research on "memristor" technology, which he said would be a vital step toward advancing artificial intelligence.

Though he said he would have gone to research at labs abroad even without the fellowship, it will allow him to focus on developing the new technology-a memory device smaller than the tip of a finger that will be able to store the data equivalent of the Library of Congress.

"(The fellowship) was good timing," he said.


Contact Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato at [email protected]

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