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Four junior faculty members recognized for artistic,
scholarly achievements with
Hettleman Prizes

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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 investment firm.


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 Drug Administration.

“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 centuries.

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 legendary.”

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 religious groups.

“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 history department.

Distinguished scholars in the field have praised Whalen’s approach, and students consistently give his classes the highest ratings, Kramer said.

“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.”

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September 14, 2011

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* *SILS mission: Connecting people to content they seek

* *Eminent surgeon honored with Jefferson Award for commitment, service

* *Four junior faculty members recognized for artistic, scholarly achievements with Hettleman Prizes

* *Tornadoes test new campus alert communications system

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