Four highly promising professors in diverse fields have been
awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly
Achievement by Young Faculty.
They are Noel Brewer, associate professor of health behavior
and health education in the Gillings School of Global Public Health; Karen
Mohlke, associate professor of genetics in the School of Medicine; and Mark
Katz, associate professor of ethnomusicology, and Brett Whalen, associate
professor of history, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. Brewer and
Mohlke also are members of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The recipients will be recognized during the Sept. 16
Faculty Council meeting.
The Hettleman Prize, which carries a $5,000 stipend,
recognizes the achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track faculty or
recently tenured faculty. Phillip Hettleman, who was born in 1899 and grew up
in Goldsboro, established the award in 1986. He earned a scholarship to UNC,
went to New York and in 1938 founded Hettleman & Co., a Wall Street
With expertise in the psychology of medical decision-making,
Brewer has conducted research that is “demanding, meticulous, creative” and
that influences disciplines far beyond the field of public health, said Jo Anne
Earp, professor and department chair.
He has shown that perceptions of increased risk lead people
to practice behaviors that protect their health, such as getting vaccinated or
screened, but anticipating regret over a bad decision can be the most powerful
motivator of all.
A Carolina faculty member since 2004, Brewer also has
studied how people make sense of the often-confusing health information they
receive from medical tests.
In 2009, he was named associate editor of the Health
Psychology Review and was appointed to the Risk Communication Advisory Panel of
the U.S. Food and
“Dr. Brewer’s accomplishments are extraordinary,” Earp said.
“His research thus far is felt in many spheres and is recognized admiringly by
the most respected scientists in the field.”
Katz’s groundbreaking work focuses on the influence of
technology on the creation and experience of music in the 20th and 21st
A faculty member since 2006, Katz views recording technology
as one of the most important forces in music development in the last century.
Scholars have embraced Katz’s term “phonograph effect” to
describe this influence and have cited his work in scores of academic journals.
His book “Capturing Sound” has been used as a textbook for multiple disciplines
in universities worldwide
Katz’s upcoming monograph, “Groove Music: The Art and
Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ,” is supported by a National Science Foundation
grant. The work examines the influence of “turntablism,” the art of using the
phonograph as a musical instrument.
“In short, Mark Katz’s work has changed the way people –
whether students, scholars or the general public – think about and listen
to music,” said Terry Rhodes, professor and music department chair.
Mohlke is considered in the top echelon of researchers in
the area of complex-trait genetics, which examines the interaction of multiple
genes affecting complex, common diseases.
As a postdoctoral fellow working with Francis Collins at the
National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH), Mohlke led the molecular genetics component of an international study
that resulted in the identification of two dozen genes involved in type 2
diabetes. Since coming to Carolina in 2004, she has continued her involvement
in that study as one of five principal investigators.
Collins, now director of the NIH, said Mohlke’s skills in
the lab “as an experimentalist, a creative thinker and a teacher are still
Terry Magnuson, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor
and department chair, praised Mohlke for demonstrating “remarkable ability to
direct large groups of individuals in team-oriented research.”
Magnuson also praised Mohlke’s insight and careful attention
to detail in molecular genetic and computational studies in her laboratory.
Whalen, who has garnered a national reputation as an
innovative analyst of medieval European and Mediterranean cultures, joined the
faculty in 2005.
His first book, “Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse
in the Middle Ages,” examines the evolution of apocalyptic ideas among medieval
Christians and shows their influence on interactions with people of other
“This is an exceptional achievement for someone at this
stage of his career because few historians write first books that range so
widely across time or across such diverse cultural interactions,” said Lloyd
Kramer, professor and chair of the
Distinguished scholars in the field have praised Whalen’s
approach, and students consistently give his classes the highest ratings,
“Professor Whalen, in short, is showing how the history of
medieval European exchanges with various cultural ‘others’ helped to shape a
Western cultural identity that still influences political and religious
interactions in the modern world.”