Pejman Rohani has been named the Pearl L. Kendrick Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Complex Systems.

The collegiate professorship is for a five-year renewable term, beginning Sept. 1, 2014. Rohani is also a professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health.

The professorship was established through the University of Michigan Office of the Provost and approved by the Regents. A stipend funded from college resources will accompany this professorship.

“I chose the name because of Pearl Kendrick's inspirational work on the epidemiology of pertussis, a bacterial disease that I've been trying to understand for more than 15 years!” said Rohani.

The following is excerpted from the Regents Communication.

Rohani received his doctorate from Imperial College, University of London in 1995. Following a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Utah (1995-1996) and a five-year research fellowship at the University of Cambridge (1996-2001), Rohani began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Georgia in 2001. He was promoted through the ranks to professor in 2008 and joined the faculty at Michigan in 2009.

Rohani is a brilliant scientist who is in the very top echelons of an elite international group of scholars in theoretical ecology focusing specifically on the modeling of human infectious disease. He is an extremely clever theoretician who is firmly committed to confronting models with data and using sophisticated mathematical and computational approaches to elucidate ecological patterns in nature. Rohani is an internationally recognized scholar of human disease ecology with important contributions to our understanding of measles and pertussis. He has also made important advances in more theoretical aspects of ecology, including the generation of complex spatial patterns and the consequences of host-parasitoid-pathogen assemblages. He is clearly one of the leaders in the field and his publications continue to appear in very high profile venues. His work, in addition to being widely cited, also attracts a great deal of grant support. In 2012, he and his collaborator were awarded a $1.7M grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further study the dynamics of pertussis transmission. During his tenure at Michigan he has received over $3.5M of grant support from the NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Rohani teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses that are cross-listed in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Center for the Study of Complex Systems. The Complex Systems minor was created to attract technically advanced undergraduate students who are pointed toward graduate programs and research careers. His textbook on infectious diseases (coauthored with M. J. Keeling, Princeton University Press, 2008) is a standard text for many courses around the country in both epidemiology and disease ecology.

In addition to regular committee work in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, Professor Rohani has served on the 13-member commission that reported on “The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies” that was sponsored by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2012. He currently serves on the editorial board of The American Naturalist, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London – B, and has served as academic editor for PLoS Biology, PLoS Medicine, PLoS Computational Biology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Kendrick, who the professorship honors, was a resident lecturer at U-M from 1951 until her retirement in 1960. Her most important work was done at the Michigan Department of Health where she carried out extensive studies on the diagnosis and prevention of whooping cough, a serious disease that claimed approximately 6,000 lives each year in the United States. The majority of these deaths were young children. Kendrick and her colleagues began a field study to demonstrate the effectiveness of the pertussis vaccine and helped establish the field trial as an important method for measuring immunization. The Department of Health started general distribution of the vaccine in 1940.

Read more about Pearl Kendrick on Wikipedia and in Famous Scientists