Four professors selected for Faculty Distinguished Research Award

More than 1,000 stakeholders and community members are expected to visit Research ShowCASE April 15 to see the latest innovations from faculty and students at Case Western Reserve University. Among them: Four of the university’s most prominent researchers, who will be recognized as Faculty Distinguished Research Award recipients.

Their specialties are varied—anthropology to engineering, HIV to IT—but the professors are being honored for what they have in common: outstanding contributions to research that’s made a major impact at Case Western Reserve and in their fields.

This year’s Faculty Distinguished Research Award winners are: 

  • Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering;
  • Melvyn Goldstein, the John Reynolds Harkness Professor of Anthropology;
  • Michael Lederman, the Scott R. Inkley Professor of Medicine; and
  • Kalle Lyytinen, professor and chair of the Department of Design and Innovation.

Each year since 2013, university committee selects Faculty Distinguished Research Award recipients, honoring those who uphold and build upon Case Western Reserve’s history as an innovative, research-driven institution. 

Rivera chairs a committee that chooses the recipients each year; Distinguished University Professors and former winners of the award comprise the committee. They select faculty members, nominated by their deans, who have established national and international reputations for their research or creative projects.

President Barbara R. Snyder, Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack and Vice President for Research Suzanne Rivera surprised each of the professors in their classrooms this spring to present them with their awards.

In recognition of their contributions, each of the winners will receive $10,000 in discretionary funds to further their research.

Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering

Liming DaiDai has embodied excellence in organic materials research since his career began in 1983 as an engineer at China’s Zhejiang Chemical Industry Research Institute. Dai has since moved through the ranks of academia, with stops at various institutions along the way. Since 2009, he’s been on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University, where he’s continued his research in macromolecular science and engineering.

Dai’s work stands to revolutionize energy technology.

Most recently, Dai’s research on charging lithium ion batteries with solar cells could lead to cleaner transportation and home-power sources. Among his other recent research contributions: developing a metal-free fuel cell catalyst for zinc-air batteries, which has proven to perform as well or better than most metal and metal-oxide electrodes typically reused in the batteries.

Through these and other research contributions, Dai has become known as one of the world’s leading experts in nanocarbon materials and their use in composites and finished devices.

His successes extend into the scientific literary community as well. In the past three years, Dai averaged more than 30 published papers annually. He is responsible for more than 400 peer-reviewed papers and has been cited more than 20,000 times. His numerous scholarly works have earned him an associate H-Index of over 80, an acknowledgement of his prolific literary contributions and citations.

Dai is a “global influencer” in the field of macromolecular science and engineering and often is requested as a plenary/keynote speaker.

He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and previously received the George Noland Research Award from Sigma Xi.

Melvyn Goldstein, the John Reynolds Harkness Professor of Anthropology

Melvyn GoldsteinWhat began as a graduate school project in the mid-1960s evolved into a career that resulted in Goldstein being widely viewed as the father of modern Tibetan studies.

Goldstein has been an asset to Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Anthropology for more than 40 years. Also co-director of the university’s Center for Research on Tibet, Goldstein is recognized for his socio-cultural anthropology expertise—especially on Tibetan society.

As a graduate student working in Tibet, Goldstein interviewed countless Tibetan refugees, and since has spent extended time interacting with the people of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. In 1985, he became the first Western anthropologist to study the area.

Goldstein played a key role in negotiating with the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences to allow for long-term research and exchanges—the academy’s first collaborative research agreement with an foreign entity. The effort allowed for Tibetan researchers to travel to Case Western Reserve to study.

Over the years, Goldstein has developed a deep understanding of Tibetan culture, including family and marriage, nomadic pastoralism, economic reform, Buddhism in Tibet and socio-economic change. He also has conducted research in India, northwest Nepal, western Mongolia, Kathmandu and eastern China.

Throughout his career, Goldstein has made extensive contributions to the anthropology field, with more than 100 articles and many books chronicling Tibetan history. Materials concerning Goldstein’s work are available in several countries and languages, including Tibetan language editions, making his research accessible to various relevant populations. He recently submitted the third installment of his Tibet Oral History Archive Project, a digital archive of oral history interviews, to the Library of Congress.

In 2012, Goldstein received the 2012 Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize, which honors Case Western Reserve faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to their academic field.

Michael Lederman, the Scott R. Inkley Professor of Medicine

Michael LedermanIn his 36 years as a faculty member, Lederman has made an incredible impact on Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. But his contributions extend well beyond campus.

Two years after the discovery of HIV/AIDS in 1981, Lederman began researching the disease, focusing mainly on understanding and addressing HIV-induced immune deficiency. Then, two years into his work, he established the first dedicated HIV clinic in Northeast Ohio.

Lederman is responsible for the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at Case Western Reserve and directs the network of Immunology Service Laboratories, which monitors national HIV treatment trials. His leadership extends into his involvement in the Association of American Physicians, the American Association of Immunologists, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association, the American Association of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since interning at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in 1974, Lederman has dedicated his career to treatment and research at Case Western Reserve and across Northeast Ohio. He has helped improve HIV care and implement interventional trials by connecting the university’s clinical care program to an HIV research program.

In August 2015, Lederman and fellow HIV/AIDS researcher Leonard Calabrese, of Cleveland Clinic, received an $18.5 million grant from the Richard J. Fasenmyer Foundation to continue their work on HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease and other HIV-related ailments.

In 2008, Lederman and Calabrese, who have conducted research together for more than 35 years, launched the Cleveland Immune Failure Project to learn why some patients successfully treated with antiretroviral drugs fail to return to normalized immune systems.

Lederman has published more than 280 peer-reviewed scientific works. He serves on editorial boards for several research journals and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards for the Forum for Collaborative Research and the Agence Nationale de Recherche sur le SIDA.

Kalle Lyytinen, professor and chair of the Department of Design and Innovation

Kalle LyytinenLyytinen has made a global impact in the world of information technology. In fact, he led the research team responsible for MetaEdit+, software developed to create and use domain-specific modeling language.

A leader in information systems research, Lyytinen defines how radical innovations in information technology will impact and shape organizations. He also works directly with those organizations to manage and implement these changes.

Recently, he has worked on projects that focus on engineering practices, telecommunications and software-development businesses. Since his initial appointment in 2001, Lyyntinen has taught several courses related to digital innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management, where he is faculty director of the Doctor of Management program and chair of the Department of Design and Innovation.

His extensive work—including more than 180 published scientific articles—has garnered several prestigious awards, including honorary doctorates from Umea University and the University of Copenhagen. He is frequently consulted for his knowledge of digital innovations, drawing interest from local and international companies, such as KeyBank and the Norwegian Council of Research.

In 2013, Lyytinen received the prestigious 2013 LEO Award for Lifetime Exceptional Achievement in Information Systems. The award is considered the top honor bestowed by the Association for Information Systems.

Lyytinen has been a visiting professor at a variety of universities nationally and abroad, including an ongoing position in London and a yearlong stay in Copenhagen.