College of Arts and Sciences' Distinguished Research Award (CASDRA)

The College of Arts and Sciences' Distinguished Research Award (CASDRA) was initiated in 1993-94 upon the recommendation of the College Council for Research and Graduate Studies. In recognition for outstanding research achievements, each recipient receives $500.00 toward research expenses, a plaque, and recognition at our August faculty meeting.

We are very pleased today to acknowledge two of our faculty members for their outstanding research performance, Dr. Michael Ferkin, Department of Biology and Dr. Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, Department of English and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Michael Ferkin

Dr. Ferkin, Professor, Department of Biology, joined the University of Memphis faculty in 1995 after completing his Ph.D. in Biology at Boston University. Dr. Ferkin received an Early Career Research Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1996.

According to Michael, over his professional life, he has always been interested in how animals behave. More specifically, he has addressed how animals communicate and how their communication affects their social and sexual interactions. Much of his research has focused on voles.

Michael has received continuous funding from NIH and NSF for his research since 1985, leading to an outstanding publication record of over 76 peer-reviewed articles in top-tier journals, including Nature. Nominated by Professor Reza Pezeshki, Dr. Ferkin has received very strong support for his nomination by colleagues in various University of Memphis departments. This clearly reflects the esteem in which he is held.

To quote only one of the several scientists who sent letters in support of his nomination: "Mike has established a productive and varied research program in behavioral biology, behavioral endocrinology, and more recently in animal cognition... he has developed his own unique ideas and research projects that are making important contributions to behavioral biology...What I like most about his approach is that he has a thorough knowledge of the organizes he works with, and he combined this knowledge with interesting and novel questions and experiments."

Dr. Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor

Dr. Wagner-Lawlor, Professor, Department of English, and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, joined the faculty in the Department of English here at the University of Memphis in 1990 after completing her Ph.D. in English at Yale University. Dr. Wagner-Lawlor received an Early Career Research Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1996.

Jennifer Wagner-LawlorOver the course of her career to date, Jennifer has encompassed several genres of research including 19th Century British poetry, the theory of parody, literature in a cultural context, and more recently utopian studies. Her early work on the English Sonnet led to her book entitled A Moment's Monument: Revisionary Poetics and the Nineteenth-Century English Sonnet (1996,) and her work on literary parody resulted in her edited collection entitled The Victorian Comic Spirit (2000).

Jennifer is currently working with Dr. Barbara Ching on an edited volume on the sensibilities of Susan Sontag. In addition to her books, Professor Wagner-Lawlor has published over twenty refereed articles.

From among many letters of support, here are some comments: "... the outstanding virtue of Wagner-Lawlor's criticism remains the detailed and sensitive attention to linguistic form" and ... [she] "lets us see artists as their own best critics through their formal choices." Another colleague writes that "Professor Wagner-Lawlor's initiative, generosity to other scholars, and unflagging curiosity has enhanced the reputation of the University of Memphis among academics all over the United States, in Britain, and beyond."