Campus News

Downs, Murdie named Regents’ Professors

UGA faculty members honored for their innovative and pace-setting scholarship

Two University of Georgia faculty members have been named Regents’ Professors for the widespread reach and impact of their scholarship and creative activity. Regents’ professorships are the highest professorial recognition bestowed by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.

The university’s 2023-2024 Regents’ Professors are Diana Downs, Distinguished Research Professor in the department of microbiology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Amanda Murdie, Georgia Athletic Association Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and head of the department of international affairs. Both of their Regents’ professorship appointments will take effect on July 1.

“Drs. Downs and Murdie are widely respected in their fields for the quality and breadth of their outstanding scholarship, teaching and professional service,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “It is an honor to have them as part of our esteemed faculty at the University of Georgia.”

Diana Downs

Diana Downs (Submitted photo)

Known as an expert in microbial physiology, bacterial genetics and metabolism, Downs has distinguished herself as an innovative and pioneering scholar. She has a substantial research footprint with 126 peer-reviewed publications and 30 years of continuously funded grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and industry and private foundations.

Throughout her career, Downs has graduated 27 Ph.D. students and currently has five students working on their dissertations. She has mentored 14 master’s students and more than 80 undergraduates in her laboratory and is highly renowned for her teaching expertise. She also served as the UGA department of microbiology’s graduate coordinator, during which time the graduate program grew substantially.

In addition to her foundational research and student mentoring, Downs is known for her national and international service. She served as editor-in-chief of the premier ASM journal Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews for 10 years and was on the advisory panel of the James S. McDonnell Foundation’s Complex Systems Analysis Program. She was also one of two Americans on the European Research Council panel “Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology.”

“Parallel to her research centric success, Dr. Downs has earned a reputation as an advocate for rigor and relevance in graduate and undergraduate education, and a colleague that is dedicated to strengthening microbiology research and education at all levels,” said Aaron Mitchell, UGA professor and head of the department of microbiology.

In recognition of her impactful research and mentorship, Downs was profiled in “Women in Microbiology” by the American Society for Microbiology Press (2018) and was elected as a fellow of both the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Amanda Murdie

Amanda Murdie (Submitted photo)

Murdie has distinguished herself in the field of international relations as a preeminent scholar on the behavior of international non-governmental organizations. She has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters focusing on topics including human security, human rights, conflict processes and development.

Most recently, Murdie won the Karl Deutsch Award from the International Studies Association. This award, widely regarded as the most prestigious in the field of international relations, recognizes scholars under the age of 45 or within 15 years of defending their dissertation who have made “the most significant contribution to the study of International Relations and Peace Research.”

She is also the recipient of the ISA’s Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award and multiple best paper awards from journals and associations. Her work is routinely used in the policy and NGO community to improve the outcomes of international interventions and human security advocacy.

Murdie has mentored 31 Ph.D. students and served as the dissertation chair for 13. She currently serves as dissertation chair for six students. She has a reputation for building the careers of early career scholars, and almost all her Ph.D. students have coauthored multiple publications with her prior to graduation.

In addition to her reputation as a highly productive and innovative researcher, Murdie is known for her contributions as a journal editor. From 2018 to 2022, she was the editor-in-chief of the International Studies Review. Under her tenure the journal received the highest impact factor in its history and moved into the top 10 rankings of international relations journals.

As head of the UGA department of international affairs, Murdie has a strong record of impactful leadership. Since 2018, she has grown the department in strategic ways to encourage enrollment, boost graduate publishing and facilitate mentorship among faculty and graduate students. The program is the second highest ranked in the United States based on the trajectory of increase since 2000.

“I believe that she is among the stars studying human rights and civil society in our profession,” said Kathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

As the newest Regents’ Professors, Downs and Murdie will deliver the 2024 Charter Lecture at 11 a.m. on March 27 at the University Chapel.

Regents’ Professors receive a permanent increase in salary of $10,000 in the year they are initially appointed. In addition, awardees receive yearly academic support of $5,000 as long as they hold the Regents’ Professorship. For a complete list of Regents’ Professors at UGA, see