Jeffrey Wasserstrom
“Every sign that you’re doing something right can give you encouragement to take chances and experiment with new approaches,” says Jeffrey Wasserstrom, who this summer was named a Chancellor’s Professor of history. Steve Zylius / University Communications

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, professor and chair of UC Irvine’s Department of History, is an internationally recognized expert on Chinese history and culture. A frequent traveler to that nation, he this year published Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land, the latest of many books he’s written or edited about China.

Wasserstrom has spent his career exploring a range of related topics, including patterns of student protest, the effects of globalization on urban life, and American images of Asia. He’s a regular contributor to such influential periodicals as Time, Newsweek, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor and also blogs for The Huffington Post.

In recognition of his scholarly output and excellence in his field, Wasserstrom was named a Chancellor’s Professor in July. The title acknowledges those who have demonstrated unusual academic merit and whose continued promise of scholarly achievement makes them of exceptional value to the university.

“I’m delighted to get this honor for many reasons,” Wasserstrom says. “One is that it puts me in the company of wonderful UCI faculty members who have the same title. … Every sign that you’re doing something right can give you encouragement to take chances and experiment with new approaches, which is something that I think tends to lead to the best works of history.”

Chancellor’s Professors cannot account for more than 3 percent of filled faculty positions. There are currently 39 at UCI, and several of the newest are profiled below.

  • Richard Hasen, professor of law, is a nationally renowned expert in election law and campaign finance regulation who co-authored a leading casebook on election law. His op-eds and commentaries have appeared in many publications, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and Slate. He also writes the often-quoted Election Law Blog, and his latest book, The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown, was published this summer. Hasen was named a Chancellor’s Professor in December 2011.
  • David Neumark, professor of economics, studies labor economics and econometrics. He has done extensive research on the minimum wage, labor markets, urban economics, the economics of aging, health economics, industrial organization and finance. He co-authored the 2008 book Minimum Wages. Neumark was named a Chancellor’s Professor in November 2011.
  • Reginald Penner, professor of chemistry, directs UCI’s Center for Solar Energy and is a leader in the search for alternative fuel sources. His research focuses on transforming solar power, fuel cells and coal into low-cost energy sources for the future. Penner was named a Chancellor’s Professor in May 2011.
  • Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan, professor of English and comparative literature, is considered one of the leading postcolonial theorists and literary critics in the U.S. The winner of numerous fellowships, including the Fulbright, he has translated contemporary Tamil fiction into English and written a volume of poetry in Tamil. Radhakrishnan was named a Chancellor’s Professor in November 2010.
  • Charles Ragin, professor of sociology, developed methods for qualitative comparative and fuzzy set analyses that have been widely adopted in sociology and political science. He is the author of more than 100 articles in research journals and edited books and has created several software packages for data analysis. Ragin was named a Chancellor’s Professor in June 2012.
  • James Randerson, professor of Earth system science, studies the carbon cycle via remote sensing and in situ measurements and different types of models. Research themes in his laboratory include climate-carbon cycle feedbacks, land use change, and the effects of fire on ecosystem function and atmospheric composition. Randerson was named a Chancellor’s Professor in July 2012.
  • Bryan Reynolds, professor of drama, conducts research spanning several disciplines, including critical theory, history, performance studies, social semiotics, philosophy, cognitive neuroscience and dramatic literature. He’s also a playwright, performer, director of theater, and co-founder of the Transversal Theater Company, which has produced many of his plays in both the U.S. and Europe, among them “Unbuckled”; “Woof, Daddy”; “Railroad”; “Blue Shade”; “Lumping in Fargo”; “Eve’s Rapture”; “The Green Knight”; and “Fractalicious!” Reynolds was named a Chancellor’s Professor in July 2012.
  • Ivan Soltesz is professor and chair of anatomy & neurobiology as well as professor of physiology & biophysics and neurobiology & behavior. He’s among the world’s preeminent epilepsy researchers, focusing on brain cell communication – specifically, how alterations in this network caused by fever-induced seizures in early childhood and after severe head trauma can trigger the onset of epilepsy. Soltesz was named a Chancellor’s Professor in November 2011.

UCI has also recently deemed the following individuals Distinguished Professors, a title reserved for those who have achieved the very highest levels of scholarship over the course of their careers. Distinguished Professors cannot account for more than 2 percent of filled faculty positions. There are currently 30 at UCI.

  • Donald Blake, professor of chemistry and Earth system science, is best known for his groundbreaking work with UCI’s late Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland on air pollution, global warming and climate change. Over the last three decades, Blake’s air samples have shed light on the quantification of greenhouse gases, gases affecting stratospheric ozone levels, and those causing urban smog formation. Blake was named a Distinguished Professor in July 2012.
  • Barbara Dosher, dean of the School of Social Sciences and professor of cognitive sciences, studies how humans perceive, remember and retrieve information using a combination of behavioral testing and mathematical modeling. Her research covers memory, attentional processes, and the mechanisms of learning and improvement in perceptual tasks. Dosher was named a Distinguished Professor in March 2012.
  • Mihai Maniutiu, professor of drama at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, is a theater director and writer and the artistic and executive director of the National Theatre in Cluj, Romania. He has also written several volumes of fiction and three books on theater theory in which he gives his personal views on the arts of acting and directing. Maniutiu was named a Distinguished Professor in January 2012.
  • David Snow, professor of sociology, is a specialist in social movements and protests and an authority on the lives of homeless people. He is the co-author of Down on Their Luck: A Study of Homeless Street People, which has helped dispel stereotypes about homeless people. He followed and interviewed homeless people in Austin, Texas, for two years and spent more than 500 hours on the streets prior to publishing his influential work. Snow was named a Distinguished Professor in November 2011.