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November 20, 2013

Two faculty members installed to endowed professorships

Faculty support is one of the priorities of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester, which aims to create 80 new endowed professorships to enhance the University’s ability to attract and retain outstanding faculty.

Govind Agrawal, Dr. James C. Wyant Professor in Optics

Govind AgrawalGovind Agrawal, a world leader in optical communications, has been installed as the inaugural recipient of the Dr. James C. Wyant Professorship in Optics.

Govind Agrawal joined the faculty of the Institute of Optics in 1989 and is a professor of optics and physics at the University, as well as a senior scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

At the installation ceremony on Oct. 28, Robert Clark, senior vice president for research and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, referred to Agrawal as “a phenomenal, off-the-charts researcher who is willing to apply his talents across research, in the classroom and in his service to the Institute of Optics.”

Clark also noted the more than 400 research papers and eight books that Agrawal has published and his work in service of the optics community. He is a fellow of both the IEEE and the Optical Society of America, and also served on the Board of Directors of the OSA. In 2012 he received the IEEE Photonics Society’s Quantum Electronics Award. He was honored with the William H. Riker University Award for Graduate Teaching from the University this year.

“I am delighted to support the research and teaching that takes place at the Institute of Optics,” Wyant.

President Joel Seligman says Wyant is a “valuable member of the Board of Trustees, the volunteer leadership team, and member of the strategic planning committee. Jim has made extraordinary contributions to optics, both at the University of Rochester and at the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Science, where he was dean and director.”

Wyant received his master’s and PhD degrees from the University and has been a visiting professor at the Institute of Optics since 1983. He has served as a University trustee since 2012. He is now professor emeritus at the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Science.

Anton Porsteinsson, William and Sheila Konar Endowed Professor

Anton PorsteinssonAnton Porsteinsson ’93M (Res), director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program and an internationally renowned clinical researcher and a leading expert in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, was installed as the inaugural William and Sheila Konar Endowed Professor.

An Oct. 2 ceremony recognized Porsteinsson’s contributions to the departments of psychology and neurology and more than three decades of support from his benefactors, William (Bill) and Sheila Konar.

“The Konars’ generosity and leadership will lead to new ways of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases that affect memory, thinking, behavior, and mood,” said Seligman. “From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Konars for their determination to help rid the world of a vicious disease that has touched so many of us.”

Bill Konar is the founder of William B. Konar Enterprises, which owns apartments, townhouses, warehouses, and industrial parks in Rochester. An active community volunteer, Sheila Konar has served as a board member of the Rochester-area chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and volunteers at Rochester City School District’s Henry W. Longfellow School No. 36.

The Konars’ gift is believed to be the largest gift devoted to the support of clinical research for Alzheimer’s disease that the University has ever received. Among the top six causes of death in the U.S. today, Alzheimer’s is the only one for which there is no prevention, cure, or treatment. Thanks to their professorship, Porsteinsson’s work is poised to take a giant leap forward.

“Anton’s work has given the University of Rochester a reputation for being a destination for clinical studies on Alzheimer’s,” said Mark Taubman, dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and University vice president for health sciences. “Because of his team’s work, when there’s a breakthrough in this disease, we won’t be waiting to hear about it. We’ll be among the centers that made it happen. And I want to thank Anton for making us a leading center for Alzheimer’s research.”

Porsteinsson’s focus is on the biomarkers, imaging, and novel medications in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, addressing both cognitive loss and behavioral disturbances. He participates in the University’s Memory Care Program and is an author and a collaborator in hundreds of research publications.

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