The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University has announced its Outstanding Researcher Awards for 2007. This year’s honorees are Mark Brazaitis , associate professor of English; George O’Doherty , associate professor of chemistry; and Steven Zdatny , professor of history.
Brazaitis , who earned a MFA from Bowling Green University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University, is a member of the English Department’s creative writing faculty.
A number of his writings have won national prizes, includingAn American Affair,winner of the 2004 George Garrett Fiction Prize;The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala,which won the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award; and his novel,Steal My Heart,which won the 2001 Maria Thomas Fiction Award.
His work has also been published in prestigious journals such asShenandoah,The Notre Dame Review,Poetry International,Poetry East,Hayden’s Ferry ReviewandThe Carolina Quarterly.
Brazaitis’s poetry has been included inUncommon Journeys,a publication of the U.S. Peace Corps geared toward junior high and high school students; andWild Sweet Notes II,an anthology of West Virginia poets. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and his writing has been supported by a Senate Research Grant from the Eberly College.
His writing frequently draws on his experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala.Although I use small towns in Latin America as settings in some of my work,he said,I cast my thematic net wider, creating what I hope are complicated and rich tales of North Americans and Latin Americans meeting, approaching understanding, and sometimes even falling in love across language and culture.
Elizabeth Oness, another Iowa Short Fiction Award winner, said of his stories,Brazaitis portrays the diverse worlds of our Americas without falling into the easy polarities of north and south.
ODoherty , a native of Ireland, earned a B.S. in chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. in chemistry from The Ohio State University.
He did postdoctoral work at Imperial College of London, England and was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University. He was recently named as Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the Eberly College at WVU .
His research has been funded by grants from the American Chemical Society, the American Cancer Society, the National Science Foundation, The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
O’Doherty’s research focuses on the development of new methods for the de novo synthesis of natural and unnatural structures, with a particular focus on the synthesis of biologically-active carbohydrates.
He has had great success in the preparation of common and uncommon monosaccharide and has extended his research methodology toward the preparation of biologically-important oligosaccharides as well as bioactive natural products.
This research, which plays a significant role in increased scientific understanding of the important role that carbohydrates play in biology,is among the most important discoveries in the field in the past 20 years,wrote his colleague, Dr. Kung Wang.I do not view it as an exaggeration,Wang continued,to say that this methodology has the potential to revolutionize the field.
O’Doherty’s work also has implications for the development of new anti-cancer drugs.
Zdatny , a WVU professor of history, earned graduate and undergraduate degrees in history from SUNY -Buffalo and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
He has previously won Eberly College and WVU Foundation teaching awards as well as grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, France’s Bourse Chateaubriand, and the U.S. Holocaust Museum. He has also been a Fulbright Senior Scholar.
His research is primarily focused on trade unionism in France, particularly in the hairdressing trade. His most recent book,Fashion, Work, and Politics in Modern France,reconstructs the evolution of coiffure, from the miserable barbershops of the 1880s to the mass-luxury of style icons such as Jacques Dessange.
The book offers a portrait of struggling small businessmen and artists, window-smashing barbersassistants, Jewish victims ofAryanization,and changing hygienic sensibilities. Herrick Chapmen of New York University said Zdatnyintegrates the history of fashion, labor and business with rare agility.
All told, Zdatny has written five books, all of which address artisanal labor in France.
He has served as an expert commentator on issues of fashion history for publications from The Washington Post, The San Francisco Examiner, Lingua Franca, Forbes magazine and Psychology Today.
His research isnt all high glamour and glitz, hes quick to say.
The other, less glamorous aspect of my work picks up the economic, social and political elements in the history of the hairdressing profession,Zdatny said.I consider working conditions in a traditionally poor corner of the economy, the world of small business, and 20th century battles between labor and capital.
It is a privilege and a pleasure to recognize these outstanding scholars,said Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey, dean of the Eberly College.It is important not only to reward them for their excellence, but also to remind the University and the community about the quality of our faculty. Research at this level brings the College and WVU national and international attention, and it also provides our students with the opportunity to study with professors who are at the cutting edge of their fields.
For more information, contact Dr. Fred King, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Fred.King@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-4611.