Dunavant Professorships are endowed by a generous gift from William Dunavant. The College of Arts and Sciences awards one to four professorships annually. Awardees
receive $5,000 per year for three years to support their research programs. Since
1999, more than thirty Dunavant Professorships have been awarded.
Recipients of the Dunavant Professorships are Dr. Ruthbeth Finerman, Department of
Anthropology, Dr. Gene Plunka, Department of English, and Dr. Xiangen Hu, Department
Dr. Finerman received her PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles in
1985. She specializes in research and teaching in applied medical anthropology, focusing
on family health and caregiving, international health services delivery, medical choice
and change, human sexuality and childbirth, ethnomedicine, and mental health.
She was a Fulbright Scholar in 1999 and has received The University of Memphis Outstanding
Young Researcher Award, the University of Memphis Distinguished Teaching Award, the
College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Thomas Briggs Foundation
Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dr. Xiangen Hu is a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of
Memphis. Dr. Hu received his Master (applied mathematics) from Huazhong University
of Science and Technology in 1985, Master (Social Sciences) in 1991 and Ph.D. (Cognitive
Sciences) in 1993 from the University of California, Irvine. He joined the University
of Memphis in 1993. Dr. Hu's primary research areas include Mathematical Psychology,
Research Design and Statistics, and Cognitive Psychology.
More specific research interests include General Processing Tree (GPT) models, categorical
data analysis, knowledge representation, computerized tutoring, and advanced distributed
Dr. Gene A. Plunka received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from The University
of Maryland, where he specialized in modern and contemporary drama.
He has published seven books and forty-five articles in his areas of interest: modern
drama and technical writing. Dr. Plunka also worked in private industry for five years
as a technical writer and editor.