Patricia Wittkopp, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, was among 26 faculty members recognized on Monday, October 6, 2014, for their teaching, scholarship, service and creative activities.

University of Michigan Faculty Recognition Awards are intended for faculty early in their careers who have demonstrated substantive contributions to the university through achievements in scholarly research and/or creative endeavors; excellence as a teacher, adviser and mentor; and distinguished participation in service activities of the university. Eligible candidates include full professors with no more than four years at that rank, associate professors and assistant professors. Up to five awards of $1,000 each are made each year.

Patricia Wittkopp, an emerging star in the evolution of development field, addresses important questions about the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control gene expression within and between species. She garners international attention for her research on the genetic basis of phenotypic evolution, mechanisms that control gene regulation, and her genome-wide analysis of regulatory variation, which has implications for the evolution of gene networks. Her research on pigmentation evolution in Drosophila showed that changes in gene expression often contribute to evolution. She then developed a strategy to study changes in gene expression that researchers in diverse fields have adopted. Currently she is investigating the effects of new mutations on gene expression, which provide the raw material for adaptation as well as cause diseases such as cancer.

Wittkopp, who has served on 33 thesis committees, inspires high school students to postdoctoral fellows. An early adaptor of clickers in large lecture classes, and Piazza, a forum that crowdsources answers to students' questions, she generously shares her teaching expertise through the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. She has published 45 articles in top journals, and her research has been featured in Science, on public television and in textbooks. She is associate editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Genome Biology and Evolution, and Heredity and frequently presents at international conferences, workshops and other venues. She is a founding council member and education officer of the PanAmerican Society of Evolutionary Developmental Biology and serves on the Genetics Society of America Education Committee.

Named a "Scientist to Watch" by The Scientist magazine, she has received a March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award, among other honors. U-M has recognized Wittkopp with its Work/Life Champion Award for Supervisors, Excellence in Education Award, LSA Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award and the Henry Russel Award.

A dinner hosted by U-M President Mark Schlissel and Provost Martha Pollack was held Monday, October 6, to honor the awardees. The awards are given as a collaborative effort between the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the Office of Research, the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and the University Press. 

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