May 24, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 17

current issue
archive / search

    Three members of the University receive Guggenheim fellowships

    The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded three members of the University community with its 2001 Guggenheim fellowships. This year’s winners include 183 artists, scholars and scientists selected from more than 2,700 applicants for awards totaling $6,588,000.

    Guggenheim fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The new fellows include writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, choreographers, physical and biological scientists, social scientists, and scholars in the humanities. Many of these individuals hold appointments in colleges and universities, with 89 institutions being represented by one or more fellows.

    John Flynn, Lecturer and Associate Chair of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology, and the MacArthur Curator of fossil mammals and former Chair of the Field Museum’s Geology Department, has received a Guggenheim fellowship.

    Flynn specializes in the study of South American fossil mammals and paleomagnetism, a high-precision geological dating technique. By integrating fossil finds with paleomagnetism and other dating techniques, he is able to describe the influences of geologic change on the evolution of South America’s prehistoric mammals.

    He plans to spend most of his year as a Guggenheim Fellow at the University of Chile, in Santiago, visiting field sites and conferring with colleagues at museums and universities throughout South America.

    Flynn’s goal will be to learn how South America’s animal life evolved in response to the complex interplay of geological and environmental changes that have taken place over the last 65 million years. South America is an ideal region for such a study, Flynn said, because it has been biologically isolated as an island continent for most of the past 80 million years.

    Paul Walker, a specialist in Medieval Islamic history with an emphasis on philosophy and theology, has received a 2001 Guggenheim fellowship to study the caliph al-Hakim, who ruled a large territory from Cairo, including Egypt, Syria, North Africa and Sicily from 996 to 1021. Walker is a Visiting Scholar in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

    Walker’s work will lead to a book on al-Hakim, one of the most intriguing and controversial figures of the period. He is considered to be God by the Druze, an important religious subgroup in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. For Ismaili Muslims, he was the 16th imam of a continuing line that descends from the prophet Muhammad’s cousin and successor, Ali.

    Uncharacteristically for his time, al-Hakim imposed harsh restrictions on women, Christians and Jews. His destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem angered Europeans and was one reason for the Crusades. He also is remembered as being generous and a patron of scholarship.

    Walker, who received a Ph.D. from the University in 1974, has published a number of important books and articles on the era, including Early Philosophical Shiism (1993) and The Advent of the Fatimids (2000).

    Kazuo Yamaguchi also has received a Guggenheim fellowship, which he intends to use during the 2002-2003 academic year to study statistical modeling of family processes. He is a specialist in quantitative methodology, social stratification, the family and mathematical sociology and is a Professor in Sociology as well as a Research Associate at the Alfred P. Sloan Center on Parents, Children and Work.

    Yamaguchi’s project will combine three research interests: family studies, statistical modeling of social phenomena and rational choice theory. The approach reflects his interests in mathematical and statistical modeling and his education in sociology at Chicago, which was heavily influenced by the late James Coleman, University Professor in Sociology and one of the nation’s leading sociological theorists.

    Yamaguchi received a Ph.D. from the University in 1981 and has published extensively on topics related to sociological methodology. He is the author of Event History Analysis (1991).

    During his year as a Guggenheim fellow, Yamaguchi intends to work with colleagues in Europe who are developing advanced rational choice theories in sociology that permit the testing of theories with empirical data.

    He plans to extend his own research to include new insights from rational choice theories and apply that knowledge to new approaches to modeling family processes to more accurately study the patterns of interdependence between family members.