Campus News

2014 Distinguished Research Professors

Lisa Donovan

The title Distinguished Research Professor was bestowed upon four faculty who are recognized internationally for their original contributions to knowledge and whose work promises to foster continued creativity in their discipline.

Lisa Donovan, a professor of plant biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, has a clear record of outstanding and creative research that harnesses a unique fusion of ecology and evolution with genomics. Much of her early work focused on the evolution of water use efficiency in desert plants. In a series of carefully crafted field experiments, she showed that, contrary to expectations, increased water use efficiency is associated with larger plant size in desert shrubs. These studies have provided a guide for many ongoing studies of adaptation in desert plants as well as for general hypotheses about how plants adapt to harsh conditions.

During the last decade, Donovan’s research focus has shifted to the adaptive differentiation of many wild species in the sunflower genus Helianthus.


Allen Moore, a professor of genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, conducts research that has had tremendous impact on the fields of quantitative genetics and evolutionary biology. He has led a highly successful and productive research program on the genetics of sociality, which analyzes various social behaviors, such as aggression, mating, altruism and parental care. 

Insects have played a central role in elucidating the evolution of social behavior, and Moore has created extraordinarily robust insect systems that allow him to manipulate experimentally various social behaviors and to quantify the effects of those manipulations on genetic variation.

Moore has made an impact on the field of evolution by creating a quantitative genetic framework for analyzing such social behaviors.


Kelley Moremen, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the leading figures in the field of glycobiology.

Glycans are tiny chains of sugar molecules that cover the surface of every living cell in the human body-providing the necessary surface coating for those cells to communicate, replicate and survive. But they also are involved in the development of serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

Moremen has pioneered scientific techniques that tell how these molecules function and how they might be exploited in the treatment of human disease. Moremen also is part of many large collaborative projects related to stem cell glycomics, technology development and disease treatment that promise to speed discovery in Georgia.


Dorothy Figueria, a professor of comparative literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the most prominent scholars in the field of Indian-Western literary and cultural relations. She has made major contributions to discussions of the issues surrounding cultural studies, minority studies, multiculturalism and postcolonialism.

Figueria has authored four books in which she investigates the exoticism of the Indian texts and the Orient; orientalist thinking in 19th- and 20th-century German, French and English scholarship; and a multifaceted history of the Aryan myth within both Western and Indian culture. In her most recently published monograph, she examines a host of contemporary cultural and theoretical discourses in the humanities and social sciences centered on engagement with the Other.


Complete information on all of this year’s winners is at