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Excellence Awards

Excellence in Research 2005

The Award for Excellence in Research recognizes outstanding research and scholarship by members of the faculty over a sustained number of years.

Gordon G. GallupGordon G. Gallup
Professor Gordon G. Gallup joined the University at Albany in 1975 as professor and chair of the Department of Psychology. He served as chair from 1975 to 1984, and since that time has been a professor in biopsychology. His scholarly activity has made a significant impact on the discipline of psychology and continues to bring national and international recognition to the University.

Gallup has made a mark on psychology and related areas, and is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the study of the evolutionary basis of behavior. Over his career, he has written more than 220 scholarly articles, many of which have appeared in leading psychology journals.

Gallup pioneered the "mirror test" technique to determine whether primates possess self- awareness by recognizing their reflection in a mirror. He is also known for an extensive series of interdisciplinary studies on tonic immobility in chickens. Tonic immobility, a reaction of the autonomic nervous system to extreme threat, leads to freezing or paralysis, often the mechanism behind the inability to run or fight back. Gallup has extended this research to instances of extreme behavioral inhibition in humans, including victims of sexual or physical assault, catatonic schizophrenics, and airline disaster survivors. He has studied predator-prey relations, and has written extensively on the use of animals in psychological research. The main but not sole focus of his research involves the study of human reproductive competition from an evolutionary perspective.

Max LifchitzMax Lifchitz
Professor Max Lifchitz of the Department of Music has a long record of distinguished achievement as a composer, pianist, and conductor of international repute. His work has consistently helped to foster cultural connections, especially between the American hemispheres. As a performer, he has demonstrated a career-long commitment to contemporary concert music of the Americas. In yearly concerts and recordings of works by living composers, he presents to the public an admirable portrait of musical diversity. He was born in Mexico, and trained at Juilliard and Harvard.

Lifchitz's primary production vehicle is North/South Consonance, the New York City-based contemporary music group he founded and has directed for 25 years. The North/South reference highlights the shared cultural roots of North and South American concert music, and celebrates the differences among nations embodied in the artistic expression of their citizens. His stewardship of the creative estate of the Mexican master Carlos Chávez, for which he has produced a performing edition of Chávez's opera "The Visitor," is further testament to Lifchitz's commitment to the tradition to which North/ South is heir.

Lifchitz is a "fearless and principled musical dynamo" who has been reviewed for more than 30 years by the likes of Gramophone, American Record Guide, and The New York Times.

Steven MessnerSteven Messner
Distinguished Teaching Professor Steven Messner of the Department of Sociology is one of the country's leading criminologists. His many contributions to the advancement of criminological theory and methodology have led to his being named a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology – the highest research honor in the field. Messner's book Crime and the American Dream (written with co-author Richard Rosenfeld), first published in 1994, is a classic. Its thesis, that the unusually high levels of crime in the United States are a direct result of the normal functioning of American society, has generated a decade of empirical work by a broad array of researchers. The book is required reading in most criminal justice curricula and has stimulated vigorous interest in cross-national crime comparisons. Messner has studied crime rates, and in particular homicide rates, at every level of aggregation, from city block to nation.

He is funded by the National Consortium on Violence Research to convene a workshop aimed at developing a framework for integrating crime data across many levels. He has published 15 articles in Criminology, the top journal in the field, as well as many articles in the top sociology journals.

Recognized for Excellence in Teaching in 1992 and Excellence in Academic Service in 1996, Messner has also published an impressive body of work with great impact on the sociological study of crime and deviance. The Social Science Citation Index counts more than 600 citations to his name as sole or first-listed author over his career.

Bonnie SteinbockBonnie Steinbock
Professor Bonnie Steinbock of the Department of Philosophy is an internationally recognized expert on biomedical ethics. Her research joins diverse fields of study, including philosophy, public policy, law, and medicine. She approaches her work with a commitment to maintaining accessibility for non-specialists.

In Bioethics, a review of her book Life Before Birth: The Moral and Legal Status of Embryos (Oxford, 1992) noted, "One of the book's major successes is its simultaneous address of both philosophical and lay audiences." The book also received strong reviews from the two leading medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.

Steinbock's 1988 paper, "Surrogate Motherhood as Prenatal Adoption," is a classic which has been reprinted at least 10 times.

She has written some 60 articles, a large number for a philosopher. They cover a wide range of topics, including physician-assisted suicide, abortion, cloning, surrogate motherhood, genetic testing, and drunk driving.

Her ability to explain technically difficult topics to the general public has resulted in media appearances. She was interviewed for a 2003 cover story on fetal rights in Newsweek, and appeared on a panel discussing human cloning on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in 1997.