Four professors recognized for scholarly contributions with Faculty Distinguished Research Awards

Research is at the core of Case Western Reserve University, and our faculty make groundbreaking discoveries and inventions every day. Across the university, faculty members solve important problems, advance new technologies, and pave the way in emerging industries.

In recognition of such contributions, the university annually bestows the Faculty Distinguished Research Award.

The award goes to faculty members who have had a far-reaching impact on their field through scholarly or creative contributions. This year, four professors—with fields ranging from molecular biology and microbiology to law to physics—were selected for the award.

This year’s honorees are: 

  • Susann Brady-Kalnay, professor of molecular biology and microbiology;
  • Jonathan Karn, the Reinberger Professor of Microbiology;
  • Walter Lambrecht, professor of physics; and
  • Dale A. Nance, the John Homer Kapp Professor of Law.

“I am so inspired by the extraordinary work of this year’s distinguished research award recipients,” said Suzanne Rivera, vice president for research and technology management. “Each of them has made important contributions to their fields and brought honor and recognition to the university.”

They will be honored at Research ShowCASE Friday, April 20, and receive $10,000 in discretionary funds.

Susann Brady-Kalnay, professor

School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology

Since 1995, Susann Brady-Kalnay has called Case Western Reserve her professional home, with her research on cell adhesion, neural development and cancer imaging making an indelible mark on the molecular biology and microbiology field.

Brady-Kalnay has helped the university secure $65 million in grants, including $38 million in six years as the program leader for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s signaling program.

Photo of Susann Brady-Kalnay holding Faculty Distinguished Research Award plaqueIn just one month last summer, Brady-Kalnay had five grants funded, according to School of Medicine Dean Pamela Davis.

But Brady-Kalnay’s impact extends much further than campus, having 70 peer-reviewed articles published and making 21 presentations to researchers from all over the world at society meetings. She also has six patents to her name, with five patent applications pending.

As one of her colleagues at another institution noted in nominating materials: “…what is not so obvious from her CV is Professor Brady-Kalnay’s willingness to collaborate across disciplines to further research ideas. Apparent from closer examination of her record is her collaboration with engineers, radiologists, etc. to translate her basic science expertise to be closer to patients. … This is a remarkable quality for a basic cancer biologist and speaks to her intellectual curiosity and fluidity in the pursuit of breakthroughs of invasive brain tumors.”

As an advisor and mentor, Brady-Kalnay also has worked with high school students, undergraduates, medical students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, and has served on 45 thesis committees.

In addition to her primary appointment in the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Brady-Kalnay also has secondary appointments in neurosciences, pathology and general medical sciences/oncology.

Jonathan Karn, the Reinberger Professor of Microbiology

School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology

As an internationally known virologist, Jonathan Karn has built his career on conducting research on HIV.

His contributions to transcriptional control and HIV latency are widely regarded and have earned him a reputation as a top HIV cure thought leader. At Case Western Reserve, he chairs the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology and is director of the university’s Center for AIDS Research.

The primary area of Karn’s research lies in the control of gene expression, latency of HIV and strategies for viral eradication.

Photo of Jonathan Karn holding Faculty Distinguished Research Award plaque“Jonathan Karn is an extraordinary productive scientist working in an extremely critical area of research, which may someday lead to a cure for HIV,” said a colleague from another university said in nominating materials.

His more than 80 primary research papers, 42 reviews and eight patent families are evidence to his contributions to the field.

Karn has received several grants to support his research, with nine different National Institutes of Health institutions currently providing him with funding. Through 2021, he has $18.3 million in grant funding.

His scholarly impact is extended as a mentor to others, having guided 10 graduate students, 34 postdoctoral fellows and 10 research associates.

Karn was elected a fellow of the American Society of Microbiology in 2011.

Walter Lambrecht, professor of physics

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics

Walter Lambrecht is known internationally for his work in the theory of materials, as evidenced by his H-index, a measurement of scholarly impact, of 54. This score indicates that Lambrecht has 54 papers that have been cited at least 54 times.

For the past 25 years, the National Science Foundation and defense agencies have provided him with continuous funding. Most recently, he was part of a research team that received a more than $1.2 million grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for a project titled “Controlled nanostructures of atomically thin 2D oxides for next generation functional materials.”

Photo of Walter Lambrecht holding Faculty Distinguished Research Award plaqueHis research group, the Electronic Structures Group, conducts research on such topics as ternary semiconductor nitrides, halide perovskite photovoltaics, layered ultra-thin materials, oxide interaces, point defects in materials, rare-earth nitrides, transition metal nitrides and semiconductor nanowires.

In 2012, Lambrecht won a Fulbright award to research point defects in crystals at Jülich’s Peter Grünberg Institute in Germany.

“He is one of the best-known theorists working in semiconductor physics today. While this can be seen from standard metrics such as his h-index, perhaps an anecdote would make the point in another way,” said an international colleague in nominating materials. “One day when teaching a graduate level course on electrical and optical properties, I introduced some results taken from a paper by Walter. One of the students exclaimed: ‘Walter Lambrecht…he’s really famous.’”

Dale A. Nance, John Homer Kapp Professor of Law

School of Law

Dale A. Nance is well regarded for his scholarly contributions to evidence law. Internationally known, Nance’s areas of expertise also include conflict of laws, archaeological relics and other cultural property law, and philosophy law.

In addition to dozens of journal articles, Nance has written or co-written four books, most notably The Burdens of Proof: Discriminatory Power, Weight of Evidence, and Tenacity of Belief, published by the Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Photo of Dale Nance holding Faculty Distinguished Research Award plaqueConsidered an important text in the field, the monograph “explores contemporary thinking on the evidential requirements that are critical for all practical decision-making, including adjudication.”

His other titles include the textbook Evidence Law: A Student’s Guide to the Law of Evidence as Applied in American Trials.

“Every paper that he has written in my general fields is deep, intelligent, insightful and exhaustively researched. He is one of the intellectual leaders of his generation of evidence scholars, and indeed he may be the first among equals,” said a researcher at another institution in nominating materials. “He is one of a small handful of people who have actually had a discernable impact on his chosen field.”

Nance came to Case Western Reserve University in 2002, after positions at the Cornell University School of Law and University of Colorado School of Law.

Here at the university, Nance also has served as a vice dean at the School of Law.