Research Spotlight: Four professors named 2011 Ford Research Fellows

SMU's 2011 Ford Research FellowsFour outstanding SMU researchers have been named as the University’s 2011 Ford Research Fellows. This year’s recipients are Johan Elverskog, Religious Studies, Dedman College; Thomas Hagstrom, Mathematics, Dedman College; Neil Tabor, Earth Sciences, Dedman College; and Sze-kar Wan, New Testament, Perkins School of Theology.

Established in 2002 through a $1 million pledge from SMU Trustee Gerald J. Ford, the fellowships help the University retain and reward outstanding scholars. Each recipient receives a cash prize for research support during the year.

Above, the new Ford Research Fellows were honored by the SMU Board of Trustees during its May meeting (left to right): Sze-kar Wan, Thomas Hagstrom, Johan Elverskog and Neil Tabor.


Johan Elverskog is a professor of religious studies and director of Asian studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. A specialist in Asian religions and cultures, his current research focuses on the environmental history of Buddhist Asia and how Buddhists have impacted the natural world. He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Jewel Translucent Sutra: Altan Khan and the Mongols in the Sixteenth Century (Brill, 2003) and Our Great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhism, and the State in Late Imperial China (University of Hawai’i Press, 2006). He received a 2010-11 Godbey Authors’ Award for his most recent book, Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road (University of Pennsylvania Press).

Thomas Hagstrom is a professor of mathematics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His research focuses on computational methods for simulating time-domain wave propagation phenomena, with applications including electromagnetic and acoustic scattering, the generation of sound by unsteady and turbulent flows, gas-phase combustion, and the multiscale coupling of kinetic models. He has conducted work under grants or subcontracts from the National Science Foundation, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office, among others.

Neil Tabor is an associate professor of earth sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and an expert in sedimentology, soils and paleosols (fossilized soil layers), stable isotope geochemistry, and paleoclimate. His research aims to help scientists understand the world’s changing climate by knowing more about past climates as revealed by plant fossils and ancient soils. Tabor has received National Science Foundation grants for his work, which has taken him to Ethiopia, Argentina, Texas’ Permian Basin, and SMU’s Poggio Colla Field School and Mugello Valley Archaeological Project in Italy.

Sze-kar Wan, professor of New Testament in Perkins School of Theology, is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. His research interests include Paul and empire, postcolonial studies of the New Testament, Philo and Hellenistic Judaism, and Neo-Confucianism. He is the author of Power in Weakness: Conflict and Rhetorics in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (The New Testament in Context, Trinity Press International, 2000) and editor of The Bible in Modern China: The Literary and Intellectual Impact (Monumenta Serica, 1999). He is an editorial board member of the Journal of Biblical Literature and a contributor to the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.

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