Strong Hall standing proud on the KU campus

University Scholarly Achievement Awards

The University Scholarly Achievement Award is a marquee award for our university and a way to recognize standout researchers who embody our mission to make discoveries that change the world.

The University Scholarly Achievement Award is a marquee award for our university and a way to recognize standout researchers who embody our mission to make discoveries that change the world.

The 2022 awards will be announced in early March 2022 and celebrated at the annual University Research Awards ceremony at the Lied Center on April 5.

Program Overview

Each year, the University of Kansas recognizes up to four mid-career faculty members as recipients of a University Scholarly Achievement Award. This $10,000 award recognizes a significant scholarly or research contribution, creative work (an exhibition, performance, composition, article or book, or major collaborative project) or a series of closely related contributions. The annual awards recognize achievement in four areas: arts and humanities; clinical sciences; science, technology and mathematics; and social science and professional programs.

Selection Process

All nominations will be evaluated by a panel of eight individuals, representing the following areas:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Science, Technology, and Mathematics
  • Medicine and Clinical Science
  • Social Science and Professional Programs

Members of the selection panel are appointed by the chancellor. The panel may recommend up to four awards each year, depending on the number of meritorious nominations.


These contributions will be evaluated using the criteria below:

  • Advances the field of scholarship;
  • Exhibits novelty and originality;
  • Promotes scholarly and research activity or creative works at KU; and
  • Enhances the university’s national and international reputation.

The committee is aware that COVID 19 has altered the plans and timelines of researchers across the university. COVID-19 disruptions should not dissuade researchers from applying.


To be eligible for consideration, the faculty member must hold the rank of Associate Professor or Full Professor; be within 10 years of appointment as an Associate Professor at the time of the current nomination; must have completed three academic years at KU; and must not have received a prior major KU award for this body of work.

Nomination Process

Individuals may self-nominate or be nominated by others. Departments may nominate more than one individual for the award.

A complete nomination should be sent by December 17, 2021, and must include:

  • Documentation of the scholarly or research contribution, or creative work, as appropriate for the discipline (e.g., articles, books, creative products);
  • A letter of nomination of no more than 750 words explaining in terms comprehensible to an educated layperson how the contribution meets the award criteria;
  • Curriculum Vita; and
  • Two reference letters (at least one from outside KU) from individuals who are qualified to comment on the merits of the scholarly contribution (send directly to the address below).

Nominations and reference letters should be sent to:

Office of the Chancellor
ATTN: Scholarly Achievement Award Committee
1450 Jayhawk Boulevard
Room 230 Strong Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045

Nominations can also be sent electronically to with “Scholarly Achievement Award” in the subject line.

Nominations that were not successful in past years are encouraged to resubmit (if submission criteria are still met). Resubmissions should include updated files to account for research activity since the last submission.


  • September 27, 2021: solicitation of nominations
  • December 17, 2021: deadline for submission of nominations and letters of support
  • January 10, 2022: nominations and letters of support provided to panel members
  • March 1, 2022: panel conveys its recommendations to the Chancellor
  • April 2022: awards ceremony

Past Winners



  • Sarah Finocchario Kessler, Family Medicine and Community Health
  • Stuart Macdonald, Molecular Biosciences
  • Laura Mielke, English
  • Karrie Shogren, Special Education


  • Dale Dorsey, Philosophy
  • Kirsten Jensen, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, KU Biodiversity Institute
  • Paul W. Popiel, Music 
  • Franklin (Feng) Tao, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering 
  • VIDEO: Watch the full 2019 awards ceremony.



  • Nancy Brady, Speech-Language-Hearing
  • Kimber Richter, Preventive Medicine and Public Health
  • Dave Tell, Communication Studies
  • Joy Ward, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • VIDEO: Watch the full 2017 awards ceremony.


  • Christie Befort, Preventive Medicine, Public Health
  • Wen-Xing Ding, Pharmacy, Toxicology, Therapeutics
  • William Elliott, Social Welfare
  • Peter Grund, English
  • Greg Rudnick, Physics and Astronomy


  • Gregory Cushman, History
  • Wonpil Im, Molecular Biosciences
  • Andrew Torrance, Law
  • Atanas Stefanov, Mathematics


  • Michael Detamore, Chemical & Petroleum Engineering
  • Michael Engel, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Allen Greiner, Family Medicine
  • Steven Spooner, Music


  • Sally Cornelison, Art History
  • Don Haider-Markel, Political Science
  • Mikhail Medvedev, Physics and Astronomy
  • Thomas Prisinzano, Medicinal Chemistry


  • Jeffrey Moran, History
  • Russell Swerdlow, Neurology, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Jeffrey Burns, Neurology
  • Cory Berkland, Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, and Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Donna Ginther, Economics


  • Brian Blagg, Medicinal Chemistry
  • Derrick Darby, Philosophy
  • Patricia Hawley, Psychology
  • Bangere Purnaprajna, Mathematics


KU recognizes University Scholarly Achievement Award winners via Zoom (04/30/2021)

Four researchers receive University Scholarly Acheivement Awards honoring midcareer faculty (04/13/2020)

Chancellor to present four University Scholarly Achievement Awards on April 24 (04/03/2019)

Chancellor Girod to recognize five University Scholarly Achievement Award winners (03/15/2018)

Chancellor to present University Scholarly Achievement Awards (03/15/2017)

Chancellor to present University Scholarly Achievement Awards (04/18/2016)

Chancellor to present University Scholarly Achievement Awards (04/09/2015)

Chancellor to present University Scholarly Achievement Awards (04/08/2014)

Four researchers named recipients of University Scholarly Achievement Awards (04/16/2013)

Five researchers named recipients of University Scholarly Achievement Awards (3/27/2012)