At the heart of the college is extraordinary faculty.
The LSA Collegiate Professorship is the college’s highest faculty honor. It is awarded to those who demonstrate a sustained record of excellence in research and scholarship, in teaching, in service, and in other contributions to the university. Collegiate Lectures commemorate this significant milestone in a professor’s career. Lectures are free and open to the public.
Endowed professorships have long been recognized as both a hallmark of academic quality and a means by which a university honors its most esteemed faculty and teachers. These professors are the most eminent scholars in the field, and they attract outstanding graduate students, influence generations, and enhance the reputation of the department, college, and university while creating a philanthropic legacy.
Professor Sarah Moss, the William Wilhartz Professorship in Philosophy, Inaugural Lecture
Knowing What's at Stake: Epistemology and Criminal Justice Reform
January 25, 2022
In many criminal trials, judges are not allowed to inform juries of the sentences that a defendant may face if convicted. This prohibition is commonly justified on the grounds that informing juries about sentencing would “inject irrelevant considerations into the jury’s deliberations as to guilt.” Unfortunately, this justification is missing something big. In this talk, I argue that there is an important reason for jurors to know the potential consequences of a conviction—namely, without this knowledge, jurors may be unable to grasp the legal standard of proof that they are being asked to apply.
Professor Susan Juster, the Rhys Isaac Collegiate Professorship in History, Inaugural Lecture
"Mumbling Masses and Jumbling Beads": Finding Catholics in Early America
November 10, 2021
How do we find people in the past who don't want to be found? Catholicism in post-Reformation England was a fugitive faith. In the century before the first colonial settlements were established in North America in the early 1600s, English Catholics had lived a twilight existence scarcely visible in the archives. Their faith driven underground, their priests hunted down and executed, their children taken away from them and their dead denied Christian burial, men and women who adhered to the old faith learned to live in the shadows. Overseas migration changed this equation, offering an environment that was freer in some respects ((law and coercive institutions were underdeveloped in the first century of settlement) and more repressive in others (persistent imperial war and emerging racial codes ensnared Catholics whose loyalty and ethnic identity were always suspect). This talk explores some of the evidence available to historians who seek to understand the world colonial Catholics made for themselves, drawing examples from both textual and material sources. My aim is to show how historians use the fragments left to them by the vagaries of time and preservation to reconstruct the lives of men and women who inhabited the threshold between the medieval and the modern world.
Professor Jianming Qian, the David M. Dennison Collegiate Professorship in Physics, Inaugural Lecture
Quests and Discoveries at the Energy Frontier
November 4, 2021
The Standard Model of particle physics has been remarkably successful in describing phenomena at the smallest distances that are explorable with current technologies. Discoveries over the last half-century at the energy frontier, enabled by powerful accelerators, are imperative in the development of the Standard Model. In this presentation, I will discuss research and major discoveries which I have been fortunate to be part of
Professor Vonnie McLoyd, the Ewart A.C. Collegiate Professorship in Psychology, Inaugural Lecture
The Ecology of Childhood Poverty
October 5, 2021
Poverty exposes children to multiple environmental inequities that increase the risk of impaired physical health, lower educational attainment, mental health problems, delinquency, and worse outcomes as adults. Adverse outcomes are stronger when poverty occurs in early childhood or persists throughout a large portion of childhood. Experiments that test the effects of policies and programs that increase cash income and “near cash” benefits (e.g.,nutrition assistance) suggest that income poverty itself causes negative child outcomes, and that differences between the outcomes of poor and nonpoor children do not stem exclusively from the cluster of other disadvantages associated with poverty that may be harmful to children (e.g., low levels of parental education). There are numerous pathways through which poverty can influence children's development. In this lecture, I will emphasize research that adopts a “family stress” perspective, which posits that poverty can adversely affect children’s socioemotional development partly by increasing psychological distress and depressive symptoms in parents and in turn, undermining the quality of parenting. Neighborhood characteristics and interpersonal factors can contribute to, amplify, and mitigate links in this pathway. Extensive research suggests that alleviation of poverty can foster children’s development by increasing the goods and services that parents can buy for their children and by promoting a more responsive, less stressful environment in which more positive parent-child interactions can occur.
Professor Ken Kollman, the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professorship in Political Science, Inaugural Lecture
Why You Should and Should Not be Worried about American Democracy
September 21, 2021
Many people have intense worries about the future of American democracy. They should worry less about the long term survivability of democracy, and just like parties and politicians, focus more on winning the next round of elections. The partisanship that appears to be hardening in our society is actually a source of stability and predictability, and it gives people a stake in election outcomes. The major parties, contrary to popular belief, remain moderating forces. Granted, norms and electoral institutions are under threat but they are more robust than many people think, and if people focus on winning elections and adopting policies, and worry less about what damage others might do, American democracy will survive just fine.
Professor Gregory Dowd, the Helen Hornbeck Tanner Collegiate Professorship in American Culture and History, Inaugural Lecture
“Fake News” at the Founding of America: How Deception and Ambiguity Shaped U.S. Independence, Denigrated Native Americans, and Serve as Weapons of War
April 13, 2021
Two iconic documents mark the achievement of formal independence for the United States: The Declaration of Independence (1776), in which the thirteen colonies manifested their determination to be free of Great Britain, and the Treaty of Paris (1783), in which the British Crown finally recognized that freedom. This paper approaches the Declaration and the treaty negotiations from the standpoint of both rumor and Native American history. The Declaration defames Native Americans. The Treaty claims vast Native lands for the United States without indigenous consent. Among the forces that produced these outcomes were deliberate anti-indigenous—and anti-British—deceptions, or hoaxes, or what we might call today “fake news.” Benjamin Franklin, signer of The Declaration and a leading treaty negotiator, understood the workings of rumor and the power of misinformation; he lied actively in his war-time efforts for the United States. This paper examines two hoaxes, one the invention of settlers in the Smoky Mountains, the other the invention of Franklin, suggesting that "fake news" helped shape the two documents. What’s more, this fake news, and its circulation, though aimed largely at the Crown, profoundly reveals the deep colonial and imperial contempt for indigeneity.
Note: The lecture quotes anti-indigenous slurs. It references a Pennsylvania militia attack on an indigenous community, arguably the greatest atrocity of the Revolutionary War.
Professor Vincent Hutchings, the Hanes Walton Jr. Collegiate Professorship in Political Science and Afroamerican and African Studies, Inaugural Lecture
“If They Only Knew”: Informing Blacks and Whites about the Racial Wealth Gap
March 31, 2021
Even after the historic demonstrations against racially biased policing in the summer of 2020, most White Americans continue to oppose racially liberal policies such as affirmative action. Social scientists dating back at least as far as Gunnar Myrdal have argued that support for egalitarian policies would increase substantially if Whites only knew about the plight of African Americans. Similarly, Black support for policies of racial redistribution is also less than monolithic. For example, some surveys find only tepid support among Blacks for affirmative action or efforts to “defund the police.” Would this support increase if White and Black Americans were informed about the enormous racial wealth gap? We examine this question with two survey experiments fielded online by CloudResearch. Study 1 (N=1,908) was fielded at the height of the George Floyd demonstrations in June of 2020. Subjects were randomly assigned either to a control condition, where they were merely provided a definition of the racial wealth gap, or to one of two treatment conditions that provided a defintion of the racial wealth gap. They were also provided with textual and visual information on the current size of the Black/White racial wealth gap based on information from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances. In general, we find that the treatment conditions do increase information levels on the perceived size of the racial wealth gap, but they do not increase support for racially redistributive policy proposals. In a second experiment, scheduled for February of 2021, we seek to replicate the results of the 2020 experiment and add two additional treatment conditions highlighting the fact that the median household headed by a Black college graduate has less wealth than the median household headed by a White high school dropout. This Study 2 experiment represents an even stronger test of the hypthesis that public support for racially redistributive policies would increase if Americans only knew the truth. We discuss the implications of our findings for the prospects of racial reconciliation in our conclusion.
Professor Steven Cundiff, the Harrison M. Randall Collegiate Professorship in Physics, Inaugural Lecture
Optical Frequency Combs
March 4, 2021
Just over 20 years ago, the demonstration of self-referenced optical frequency combs solved a long-standing problem of linking radio- and light-frequencies. This breakthrough allowed direct measurement of the frequency of light and enabled optical atomic clocks with exquisite precision. The development of dual-comb techniques led to a second wave of activity over the last ten years. Dual comb techniques enable rapid, high-resolution spectroscopy that can be used for applications such as atmospheric monitoring or breath analysis. I will explain what an optical frequency comb is, how they are generated and used, and present some of our recent work on them.
Professor Jeffrey Veidlinger, the Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies, Inaugural Lecture
Anti-Jewish Pogroms and the Origins of Multiculturalism
November 19, 2020
As the tsarist empire collapsed in 1917, liberal intellectuals and political leaders in the newly-independent states of Poland and Ukraine offered new models for integrating ethnic and religious minorities into the nation-state. But they were confronted instead with another brutal reality, as some one hundred thousand Jews were murdered in a wave of violence and pogroms, followed twenty years later by the Holocaust and the murder of millions more. Yet, these ideas of interethnic existence were revived decades later by immigrants from that region, who sought to build new multicultural societies on American shores. This talk asks what these violent origins of multiculturalism can offer us today.
Professor Bing Zhou, Donald A. Glaser Collegiate Professorship in Physics, Inaugural Lecture
Build The World’s Most Powerful Microscopes for Discoveries
November 17, 2020
Advances in physics research rely heavily on innovations of new technology and detector development. Invention of the bubble chamber by Donald A. Glaser, a Michigan faculty who won the 1960 Nobel Prize in physics, enabled discoveries of many new particles (resonances), which set the experimental foundation of building the quark model. Over the past five decades from bubble chamber to wire chamber, the particle detector size grew from a table-top box to a football field, such as the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In modern particle experiments, thousands of physicists and engineers worldwide work together to build the most powerful microscopes to study particle physics at the most fundamental level to unlock the mysteries in nature. With an outstanding Michigan team, we designed, built, and operated the largest precision muon detector for the ATLAS experiment at the LHC over the past twenty years. This detector is crucial for the Higgs boson discovery in 2012, which was regarded as a scientific breakthrough in particle physics. The discovery opened a new window for research into the properties of the Higgs boson and the electroweak symmetry breaking mechanism, which has unique significance for the dynamics of the Standard Model of particle physics and stretches the horizons of even the most ambitious future-collider proposal.
Professor Adam Matzger, Charles G. Overberger Collegiate Professorship in Chemistry, Inaugural Lecture
From Better Health to Improved Lethality: Controlling Crystallization of Pharmaceuticals and Explosives
November 12, 2020
Crystalline materials play a pivotal role in a broad range of technologies that are central to a modern society. Crystalline silicon enabled the computer revolution, for example, and studies of protein crystals have advanced our current understanding of human disease. I will discuss our work with the crystallization of small organic molecules with particular emphasis on how controlling crystallization can create better therapeutics and more powerful energetic materials. Much of the work hinges on the approach of manipulating multicomponent crystallization and several of the unique properties of crystallization relative to other synthetic techniques.
For a lecture recording please contact the Department of Chemistry at email@example.com
Professor Webb Keane, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professorship in Anthropology Inaugural Lecture
Can Ethical Critique Change Society? Lessons from Ethnography
October 29, 2020
We often say the purpose of the liberal arts is to foster critical thinking. This rather vague expression allows a wide diversity of scholarly disciplines and pedagogical styles to cohabit more or less peacefully. But what about the world beyond the academy? Drawing on anthropology’s “ethical turn,” this talk looks at how social interaction prompts people to reflect critically on their ethical intuitions and bring them into a public realm. It considers examples from American feminism, eighteenth century Mongolia, and Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle to show the ethical underpinnings of political thought.