Four outstanding SMU scholars named 2018 Ford Research Fellows

Four SMU professors received 2018 Ford Research Fellowships during the University’s Board of Trustees Meeting in May. Pictured left to right: SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Adam Herring, Klaus Desmet, Elfi Kraka, MinJun Kim, and SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven C. Currall. Photo credit: SMU | Allison Slomowitz

Four distinguished SMU professors were honored for their scholarship as 2018 Ford Research Fellows. The awards were presented during the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, May 8.

This year’s recipients are Klaus Desmet, Economics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Adam Herring, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts; MinJun Kim, Mechanical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering; and Elfi Kraka, Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Klaus Desmet is the Ruth and Kenneth Altshuler Centennial Interdisciplinary Professor and professor of economics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His research focuses on international trade, regional and urban economics, macroeconomics, and political economy. In April, he was appointed as a research associate in the International Trade & Investment and Political Economy program of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) – a prestigious national think tank that brings together researchers in economic policy and empirical economic analysis.

Adam Herring is the Emily Rich Summers Endowed Professor, chair and director of graduate studies in the Division of Art History, Meadows School of the Arts. Dr. Herring is a specialist in the art of the pre-Columbian Americas, with research interests that include visual theory and semiotics, anthropological and materialist critique of visual experience, and the history of the discipline. A 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, Dr. Herring has also received fellowships from Dumbarton Oaks, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Huntington Library.

MinJun Kim is the Robert C. Womack Chair in Mechanical Engineering in Lyle School of Engineering. He works in three unified subject areas: micro- and nanorobotics, single-cell and single-molecule biophysics, and transport phenomena. His research applies to a range of nano- and microfabrication techniques that are capable of producing small-scale functional materials and devices. These “microbots” create the possibility of exploring biology where fundamental processes take place, such as epigenetic and genetic control of single cells.

Elfi Kraka is professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and an expert in computational chemistry, quantum mechanics, and drug discovery. As head of SMU’s Computational and Theoretical Chemistry (CATCO) Lab, she researches computer-assisted drug design as a tool for reducing the time needed to develop new pharmaceuticals. She also investigates and develops new quantum chemical methods, the mechanism of chemical reactions with the Unified Reaction Valley Approach (URVA), and the structure and stability of van der Waals complexes.

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