Organization of American Historians Awards Hine Prize to Mayeri
Serena Mayeri (PhD 2006, History; JD 2001), professor of law and history at University of Pennsylvania Law School, received the 2012 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians for Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution (Harvard University Press). The prize, given for the best book in African American women’s and gender history, was the committee’s unanimous choice. Mayeri earned her law degree from Yale and her bachelor’s degree from Harvard.
The award committee called Reasoning from Race “a brilliant excavation of the role that analogies between sexual and racial discrimination have played in legal battles over women’s rights. Mayeri recasts the story of 1970s legal feminism by uncovering a largely forgotten history of black and white women’s activism, which pursued much more expansive conceptions of equality than those that ultimately became law. In doing so, Mayeri also moves the field of African American women’s history forward by demonstrating how black women’s activism and insights from their work in civil rights shaped women’s rights struggles. Her ambitious and probing research demonstrates the analytical power of an intersectional approach to women’s history and leaves us with a radically new vision of how black women locally and nationally shaped legal culture.”
Founded in 1907, the OAH is the largest learned society and professional organization dedicated to the teaching and study of the American past.
Mayeri’s scholarship focuses on the historical impact of progressive and conservative social movements on legal and constitutional change. Her current project examines the history of challenges to marriage’s primacy as a legal institution and a source of public and private benefits. At Penn, she teaches courses in family law, employment discrimination, gender and the law, and legal history.
Alumnus Wins First Prize in C. S. Lewis Book Competition
C. Stephen Evans (PhD 1974, Philosophy), University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University, recently won first prize in the C. S. Lewis Book Competition. Awarded by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the prize is given for the best book published in the philosophy of religion or philosophical theology for a general audience in the last five years. Evans’ book, Natural Signs and the Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments (Oxford University Press, 2010), has been described by reviewer John Cottingham in the Times Literary Supplement as “lucidly written and carefully argued.”
In the book, Evans reasons that if there is a God of the kind accepted by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, it is likely that knowledge of God would be widely available through what he calls "natural signs," such as our sense of wonder that the universe exists at all, our sense that the universe is meaningful and purposeful, and our sense of moral responsibility.
“The theistic arguments come from ideas that go all the way back to the ancient Greeks,” Evans says. “The core of each of these arguments doesn't necessarily prove the existence of God, but someone who knows how to read the signs and is open to their meaning will find the evidence convincing. My view is that God doesn't want to push himself onto those who don’t want to have a relationship with Him.”
Evans says he wrote his book partly in response to the New Atheists, who hold that belief in God has no rational basis. Some contemporary cognitive psychologists think that religious faith is discredited because humans are biologically and psychologically hard-wired to believe in a higher power. “They claim that discredits belief, but in my book, I argue that if we are hard-wired to believe in God, it is because God has created us that way: we have a natural impulse to believe.” he said.
Before joining the Baylor faculty in 2001, Evans taught at Calvin College, St. Olaf College, and Wheaton College. He has published numerous books and articles in the philosophy of religion and on Danish philosopher-theologian Søren Kierkegaard. Evans also is a past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers and of the Kierkegaard Society of North America.
American Chemical Society Honors Inorganic Chemist Peter Ford
Peter C. Ford (PhD 1966, Chemistry), professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC Santa Barbara, was recently designated as the winner of the 2013 American Chemical Society National Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry.
Ford joined the faculty at UCSB after completing a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship with Nobel laureate Henry Taube at Stanford University. In the years since, more than 60 students have earned their PhD degrees while working in his research group. His own dissertation adviser was organic chemist Kenneth B. Wiberg. “He was a wonderful mentor for whom I have the highest regard,” Ford says.
Ford's lab studies catalysis, the photochemistry and photophysics of transition metal complexes, and the chemistry of nitric oxide and other small molecule bioregulators. “While these topics sound rather diverse, the common theme is our interest in reaction mechanisms and in applications of quantitative techniques to investigate these systems,” he says.
Catalysis research in Ford’s lab is focused on developing sustainable methods for converting biomass waste materials such as woodchips into liquid fuels. The successful use of such renewable resources will lower the carbon dioxide burden on the environment.
His photochemical studies involve the application of nanomaterials such as quantum dots as antennas to collect light and to transfer energy to metal complexes that release bioactive agents, a process crucial to the design and implementation of photochemically-activated drugs.
The lab also studies the reactions of small molecule bioregulators such as nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, an inorganic compound, has important and diverse roles in mammalian biology, including cytotoxic immune response to pathogen invasion and intracellular signaling in the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Ford is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a Senior Fulbright Fellow. Among his many honors are a Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award in 1972, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Senior U.S. Scientist Award in 1992, the Richard C. Tolman Medal of the ACS in 1993, and the Inter-American Photochemical Society Award in Photochemistry in 2008.