A&S Is Home to Five 2019 Curators' Distinguished Professors

Five new Curators' Professors in A&S

Congratulations to our new Curators' Professors: Curators’ Teaching Professor of Political Science William Horner, Curators’ Professor of Mathematics Aleksandr Koldobskiy, Curators’ Professor of Biological Sciences Chris Pires, Curators’ Professor of Psychological Sciences Wendy Slutske, Curators’ Professor of Chemistry Arthur Suits.

Photo of William HornerWilliam T. Horner, Political Science

William Horner teaches in the Department of Political Science, and has served as the director of undergraduate studies since 2006. He’s taught more than 11 different courses, including introductory classes with more than 500 students, writing-intensive courses, and honors capstone seminars since first joining the department in 2000 as a visiting assistant professor. Additionally, he has worked to enhance students’ experiences by creating educational opportunities beyond the classroom. In 2017, he created the Office of Participatory Democracy (OPD), which provides coaching and financial support to the Mizzou Model United Nations, MU Collegiate Debate Team, Mock Trial, and Moot Court teams.

Horner is the first non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty member to earn the Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professorship Award.

“It is humbling to receive special recognition for doing what I love to do, which is work every day with Mizzou’s amazing students, in and out of the classroom,” Horner said.  “This is my 19th year at the University of Missouri, and I have loved every year. I’m told that I am the first NTT faculty member to be recognized with this award. I am doubly honored, and I hope that it means we will continue to recognize the contributions of our remarkable teaching faculty.”

Horner is a talented teacher who has earned multiple teaching awards including the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2013. He’s also made significant contributions to the university through his dedication to service roles throughout the years. He’s served on various teaching-related committees, scholarship and fellowship committees, as well as two major search committees—for the provost and the dean of A&S, in 2017 and 2018, respectively.


Aleksandr Koldobskiy, Mathematicsphoto of Aleksandr Koldobskiy

Aleksandr Koldobskiy is an international expert in convex geometry, Fourier analysis, and geometric tomography. He is renowned for providing, in collaboration with R. J. Gardner and T. Schlumprecht, a unified resolution of the Busemann–Petty problem in all dimensions. This well-known problem attracted the attention of some leading mathematicians, yet a full solution took more than 40 years.

“My area of research is geometric tomography, which is the study of geometric properties of solids based on data about their sections or projections,” says Koldobskiy. “The Curators' Professorship provides a huge positive impulse to continue to innovate in this field of mathematics. I am very grateful to my colleagues for choosing me for this honor.”

Koldobskiy has been a faculty member at MU since 1999. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation, and a prominent NSF/Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences conference was built around 10 lectures he developed on his research. He is the author or co-author of two books and more than 100 papers.


photo of Chris Pires with Memorial Union in the backgroundChris Pires, Biological Sciences

“I am humbled by this appointment,” says Pires. “I’m continually grateful to have my career at the University of Missouri. Mizzou has provided me an outstanding, supportive, and stimulating environment to pursue my research. It’s also been a privilege to mentor some of the best undergraduate and graduate students around.”

Pires became a faculty member at MU in 2005. He studies plant species that have undergone genome duplication events in their evolutionary history and, as a result, have an extra set of chromosomes. He’s interested in whether such so-called polyploid plants have used the extra genetic material to develop new traits and to diversify. He is credited with providing the first experimental verification of co-evolution by showing that genome duplication fueled a co-evolutionary “arms race” between a plant (cabbage) and the insect (white cabbage butterfly) that feeds on it.

Pires, the associate dean of research for the College of Arts and Science, was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2017. He has received over $7 million in federal grant support and has twice been named to the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers List.

Click here for more on Pires’ work.


Wendy Slutske, Psychological Sciencesheadshot of Wendy Slutske

Wendy Slutske’s research and graduate student mentoring have earned her an international reputation in the science of addictive behaviors. A faculty member at MU since 1997, she is the director of the MU Center of Excellence in Gambling Research. Slutske’s research examines the genetic and environmental underpinnings of addictions such alcohol and drug use disorders and disordered gambling.

“This appointment is especially meaningful to me because my entire academic career was built here at MU,” Slutske said. “I am particularly honored and proud to be considered a member of an impressive group of seven Curators’ Distinguished Professors in my department.”     

She has more than 150 published works in some of the most prestigious journals in her field such as Archives of General Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.  She has acquired more than $7 million in grant support for her research, and was instrumental in the original funding of the first National Institutes of Health research student training grant awarded to the department of Psychological Sciences, which is now in its 17th year of funding. She is the recipient of many awards including the 2011 Scientific Achievement Award from the National Center for Responsible Gaming.


photo of Arthur SuitsArthur Suits, Chemistry

Arthur Suits is an internationally recognized physical chemist whose work has implications for understanding atmospheric chemistry, astrochemistry, and the study of combustion, which is useful in making cleaner and more efficient engines and energy use. Suits has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications in diverse and reputational scientific journals such as Science, PNAS, Nature Chemistry, and Nature Communication. He was the first to develop the novel “dc slice” velocity map imaging technique, which has achieved unmatched velocity resolution in ion-imaging experiments and has been widely adopted around the world to study photochemistry and reactive scattering. He leads pioneering applications of state-resolved and “universal” reactive scattering using the slice imaging technique.

Suits is a master of creating and perfecting innovative experimental techniques in physical chemistry/chemical physics studies. His many successes have earned him an international reputation as an outstanding researcher who can invent novel methods and employ them to tackle important problems, which raises the overall profile of the University of Missouri. His research is funded through the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Army Research Office.

He joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry in 2016, but this is not his first time in Columbia, Missouri. A St. Louis native, Suits earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from MU in 1987.

“I was delighted at the opportunity to return to Mizzou in 2016,” Suits said, “I’m very grateful for the support we have received here. My daughter, Persephone, is a junior studying IT and film and thriving at Mizzou.

Curators' Professors Granted Emeritus/Emerita Status

Congratulations to the seven professors in Arts and Science who were granted emeritus/emerita status:

  • Curators' Distinguished Professor of Theatre Emerita Cheryl Black
  • Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music Emeritus Michael Budds
  • Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor of Theatre Emerita Suzanne Burgoyne
  • Curators' Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences Emerita M. Lynne Cooper
  • Curators' Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus Peter Markie
  • Curators' Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus A. Mark Smith
  • Curators' Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus Jonathan Sperber

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