Syracuse University Magazine


Peter Saulson, the Martin A. Pomerantz ’37 Professor of Physics, was named a co-recipient of the 2017 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Discovery. Saulson, Gabriela González G’95, professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University (who was Saulson’s first doctoral student at SU), and David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, were recognized for their outstanding leadership of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). All three have served as spokespersons for the LSC, which made history in 2015 when it detected gravitational waves. They were honored in April at the academy’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Along with receiving a medal, Saulson shared both a $50,000 cash prize and $50,000, which will be used to support his SU group’s research.

Physics professor Joseph Paulsen was awarded a five-year Faculty Early Development Program (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding will support Paulsen’s project, “Ultrathin sheets on curved liquid surfaces: Stress focusing and interfacial assembly,” allowing his research team to study how ultrathin polymer films can be guided along curved liquid surfaces in predictable ways. 

Art history professor Wayne Franits was named a Distinguished Professor, one of the University’s highest faculty honors. 

English professor George Saunders G’88 published his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (Random House), in February. It debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times best-sellers list (hardcover fiction). The companion audiobook features 166 narrators, including such celebrities as Don Cheadle, Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon, and Ben Stiller, as well as Saunders and faculty colleague Mary Karr. Saunders was also a finalist for a 2017 National Magazine Award in the Feature Writing category for “Who Are All These Trump Supporters?” which appeared in the July 11/18, 2016, issue of The New Yorker.

Biology professor Jason Wiles was recognized with two national honors for his teaching. The Association of College and University Biology Educators (ACUBE) honored him with its annual Teaching Excellence Award, and the National Association of Biology Teachers presented him with the Evolution Education Award, which recognizes classroom innovation and community outreach. Both awards carried cash prizes. Two graduate students in Wiles’s research group, Jeremy Sloane and Ryan Dunk, received ACUBE’s Carlock Award for graduate student research. 

Counseling and human services professor Melissa Luke, who is also coordinator of school counseling in the School of Education, was the 2017 recipient of the Chi Sigma Iota Thomas J. Sweeney Professional Leadership Award, recognizing her outstanding contributions to the counseling profession. She was also the recipient of the 2016-17 Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling Mentor Award. 

Grammy Time 

Drew Taggart ’11 of the electronic duo The Chainsmokers collected a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording for “Don’t Let Me Down” with Daya. Taggart and Alex Pall were also nominated for Best New Artist and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Closer” featuring Halsey. “This is the highest honor any musician can have and saying we are grateful just doesn’t do this moment justice,” they said on Instagram. “We want to dedicate this to all our friends, family, and most importantly our fans.” The pair hit it big in 2013 with their single “#Selfie.” Taggart studied in the Bandier program, earning a bachelor’s degree in recording and allied entertainment industries from the College of Visual and Performing Arts. He was also named to Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list in the music category, joining several other Syracuse alumni.