Two University of Virginia Professors Receive 2006 ‘Outstanding Faculty Award’ from State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

February 23, 2006 — Biomedical ethicist John D. Arras and atmospheric scientist José D. Fuentes, both professors at the University of Virginia, were honored by Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today during a ceremony at the Library of Virginia in Richmond for their excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration and public service as recipients of the 2006 Outstanding Faculty Award, administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). They are among 15 outstanding faculty members from Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities to receive the award this year.

In recognizing the award winners, who were selected from a pool of 87 candidates nominated by their peers, Gov. Kaine said, “The Commonwealth of Virginia benefits from the scholarly research and academic expertise of these dedicated instructors. Their accomplishments in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field have helped place Virginia’s colleges and universities among the finest in the nation.”

“This year’s recipients come from many regions of the state and represent many different disciplines,” said Daniel J. LaVista, SCHEV executive director. “Yet all 15 have given of themselves to improve the lives of their students, their campus communities and the citizens of the commonwealth who benefit from their academic work and knowledge.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the awards program, which is considered the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty members. With the addition of Arras and Fuentes, 27 U.Va. faculty have now received an Outstanding Faculty Award from SCHEV since the program began.

Recipients each receive $5,000 and a commemorative engraved award. The program is funded by a grant from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion.

Background information on U.Va.’s two 2006 Outstanding Faculty Award winners follow:

John D. Arras

John Arras, the Porterfield Professor of Biomedical Ethics at U.Va., joined the University’s faculty in 1995 to create and direct an undergraduate bioethics program; ten years later this program is still the only one of its kind in the United States. He has published extensively on physician-assisted suicide, research ethics and the conduct of international drug trials, as well as international human rights in the context of debates over avian flu and access to lifesaving AIDS medications.

In 1995, Arras edited a ground-breaking book on high-tech home care. He has also co-authored two highly influential readers for students and scholars in bioethics: Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine (now in its 6th edition) and Ethical and Regulatory Aspects of Clinical Research, which offers a comprehensive approach to the field of research ethics. In all, Arras has published 60 substantive articles or book chapters and has edited two additional volumes — one of which is the leading resource in the field of research ethics — as well as several special issues of journals.

An internationally recognized scholar in the field of bioethics, Arras was named the U.Va. Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor for 2004-2005. He has also lectured widely in the United States and abroad. Recent presentations include “Rationing Ethically During a Pandemic of Avian Flu” at the 2005 Yale University Conference on the Ethics of Pandemic Influenza and “Liberal Egalitarianism, Justice and the Genome Project” at the 2001 Symposium on Justice and the Genome Project at Brown University.

Arras has long been an adviser to the Centers for Disease Control and was recently asked to serve on a new committee focused on the ethical issues surrounding a possible global pandemic of avian flu. In July 2005 he was asked by the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Disease to join a distinguished six-member panel to review the conduct of international AIDS trials.

Arras served for seven years as chairman of the Fellows Council of the Hastings Center in New York and for three years on the board of the American Society of Bioethics and Medical Humanities. From 2000 to 2004, he was also a member of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board, Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence, Immune Tolerance Network at the National Institutes of Health.

A colleague in Ethics at U.Va. remarked of Arras’ scholarship, “[N]o one has offered more serious and sustained contributions that have advanced scholarship in the field. As a result, he is widely and deeply respected by his peers, who eagerly read what he has written, knowing that they will always find clear, rigorous and cogent arguments.” A former student, attesting to Arras’s skills in the classroom, described him as “one of the most thought-provoking and dynamic instructors at the University.”

Arras holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Northwestern University.

José D. Fuentes

José Fuentes is a tenured associate professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he has worked for 11 years. Fuentes is an internationally recognized expert in the field of atmospheric science, with particular emphasis on the physical, biological and chemical processes that control trace gas and energy exchange between vegetation and the atmosphere. As a faculty member, he engages students in hands-on learning in the laboratory and in field research projects, taking students on scientific voyages to places as distant as the North Pole, the Brazilian Rain Forest and the Marshall Islands.

Fuentes was the first scientist to determine that pollutant deposition is enhanced when receptors are wet due to condensation or precipitation, and he became one of the first investigators to discover the transient dynamics of hydrocarbon emissions from intact natural deciduous forests. He has led several field investigations in the high Arctic to study the causes of ozone disappearance from the lower layers of the atmosphere. His research attracts considerable federal funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior.

Fuentes has generated 86 publications, including 54 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals, two book chapters, 20 conference/symposium proceedings and 10 technical reports. He has made 70 conference presentations and is often invited to present lectures and seminars at prestigious national and international universities and laboratories, including NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Risø National Laboratory in Denmark, and Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais in Brazil. Additionally, Fuentes served as an associate editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmosphere for three years and is currently serving as editor.

Due to his successful undergraduate teaching, Fuentes has received several awards at U.Va., including the Cavaliers’ Distinguished Professorship. He mentors numerous minority undergraduate students, working with student clubs and organizing workshops designed to attract and retain more minority students in science. Fuentes is a founding member of the steering committee for the U.Va. Excellence and Diversity program, which helps attract and retain minority faculty. He has also served on many graduate student committees and was recently elected to serve as the co-chairman for the Gordon Conference on Biogenic Hydrocarbons.

“He has an important ability to instill confidence in his students and bring students from many disciplines together to learn from each other,”noted a former graduate student. A colleague added, “Mr. Fuentes is an exceptionally gifted instructor … who is well aware of his responsibilities towards his students and is successful in his continuous assessment and improvement of his teaching style.”

Fuentes received his Ph.D. from the University of Guelph in Ontario.