2 faculty honored with prestigious award
Thursday, May 27, 2021

Stanley Perlman, professor of microbiology and immunology and Mark Stinski Chair in Virology, and Michelle Scherer, professor of civil and environmental engineering and Donald E. Bently Professor of Engineering, have been named recipients of the 2021 University of Iowa Distinguished Chair. Although already honored with endowed positions, both will relinquish these positions to accept the University Distinguished Chair.

The award is one of the highest honors bestowed on faculty at the UI. It recognizes tenured scholars of national and international distinction who are making a significant positive impact within the university, state of Iowa and beyond through teaching, research, and/or scholarship.

“The UI Distinguished Chair award provides the university with an opportunity to recognize some of the most exceptional members of our community of scholars,” says Kevin Kregel, executive vice president and provost. “The work Professors Perlman and Scherer have done in their fields has had a tremendous positive impact on the lives of Iowans and the broader community while also contributing to the university’s distinction. We are proud to be able to honor them in this way.”

In addition to support for their professional activities, awardees will hold the title of University of Iowa Distinguished Chair for the duration of their faculty appointment at Iowa. The award was created in 2020 and recognized Corinne Peek-Asa, professor in the College of Public Health, and Caroline Tolbert, professor of political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, during its inaugural year.

Stanley Perlman, Carver College of Medicine

Perlman, a 39-year member of the UI, is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, where he holds the Mark Stinski Chair in Virology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pediatrics.

stanley perlman
Stanley Perlman

Perlman is one of the world’s leaders in coronavirus research, which positioned him to make important contributions to the global pandemic. In a recent article in Nature, his lab—in conjunction with the lab of Paul McCray Jr., a longtime collaborator in the Department of Pediatrics—developed a model that will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of COVID-19, as well as develop and test new treatments.

Perlman is a member of the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee that advises the FDA on COVID-19 vaccine utilization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ACIP COVID-19 Advisory Committee that recommends COVID-19 vaccine usage and allocation. Perlman has been a national voice during the pandemic, being interviewed by ABC News, CBS This Morning, NPR, The New York Times, and many others. In addition to his international spotlight, Perlman remains a role model in the department for research, education, and academic service. He has served on graduate thesis committees for 74 trainees and mentored 22 PhD students and multiple postdoctoral fellows.

Michelle Scherer, College of Engineering

Scherer joined the UI in 1998 and is a professor in the College of Engineering. Scherer is an environmental engineer and a leader in discovering new ways to keep water safe by shedding light on fundamental processes in soils and, more recently, leading a campaign to assess Iowans’ exposure to lead in their drinking water.

michelle scherer
Michelle Scherer

Scherer has published more than 70 journal articles and is internationally recognized for her work. As departmental executive officer of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for nearly eight years (2010 to 2018), Scherer led the effort to create the first environmental engineering Bachelor of Science (BS) degree offered in Iowa.

In addition, Scherer helped develop a new, innovative graduate research training program focused on sustainable water development. She has served as a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Engineering Scientific Advisory Board and as associate editor of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.