Distinguished Research Award Overview & Past Recipients

The Distinguished Research Award honors faculty members with recent consequential achievements in scholarship. The award emphasizes the consistency and frequency of publications and acclaimed creative works, recognizing scholarship in the domains of discovery, integration, application, and teaching and learning research. For disciplines such as engineering and science, a distinguished record of external funding may also be an important consideration. One award is given annually.

If you are seeking information on Distinguished Research Award recipients prior to the three years listed below, please contact the Office of the Provost.

2019 Award Recipient, Vivek Singh

Vivek Singh, professor of accounting and finance in the College of Business (COB), is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Research Award.

Professor Singh is a tremendous asset to our campus. Both the quality and quantity of his research goes far beyond expectations, thus building our campus’s reputation as a place to find true world leading experts. A decade ago, Heck and Cooley (2009) conducted a bibliographic analysis of finance researchers who had demonstrated “extreme performance.” Even then, Vivek, who had completed his dissertation just five years before, ranked in the top 4% of all research active finance professors in cumulative lifetime research productivity. Since then, he has maintained his world-class productivity.

Another article on research productivity laid out criteria for placement in the top 5% of finance doctoral graduates. Vivek could cut his publication record in half over the past 15 years, and still qualify in the top 5%. It should

therefore be no surprise that he has earned the Distinguished Performance in

Research Award in 2018 and Researcher of the Year Award in 2016.

Not only is he prolific, but his work is of exceptionally high quality. A few years ago, the COB undertook a rigorous process of ranking journals as either superior, very good, good, or refereed. The “very good” category is so selective that candidates for tenure or full professor are regularly deemed “excellent in research” with 7-9 publications in “very good” journals and

none in “superior” journals. To date, Vivek has published 23 papers in “very good” journals and two in “superior” journals, along with six more papers in “good” journals. Six of these articles were the lead article in the journal, one won a best paper award, and another was republished in a special issue of Financial Management (a “very good” journal) for publications that had the most impact over the past five years.

His research has also drawn considerable interest from the practitioners’ community, as evidenced by regular requests from money managers for his articles. Investment magazines, including CFA Digest and various investment-related internet websites, have also summarized and cited his work.

In summary, Professor Singh is a truly exceptional researcher who would stand out at most of the 131 top-ranked Carnegie research colleges, exactly the type of performer who is building our reputation as a cutting-edge center of expertise. The University of Michigan-Dearborn salutes him and proudly presents to him the Distinguished Service Award.

2018 Award Recipient, Ya Sha Yi

Ya Sha (Alex) Yi, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in the College of Engineering and Computer Science is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Research Award. 

Professor Yi completed his PhD in Electronics and Optoelectronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004 and joined the ECE department faculty in 2013.  Since joining the department he has continued to build his research portfolio, establishing himself as a leading national researcher in the field of Optoelectronics and Nano Technology. In his 4.5 years with the department, Professor Yi has published more than 30 journal papers in top ranked journals and has been awarded over $1.4 million in sponsored research grants.  He also exhibits great leadership as chair of the ECE PhD program. 

Professor Yi’s career also includes time with 3M’s Central Research Laboratory as a Senior Research Scientist and City University of New York as a tenure track faculty. Over his relatively short and distinguished career he has authored over 80 journal papers and has been principal investigator on projects totaling over $4 million in funding. He has developed collaborative relationships with leading research groups in academia and national labs and is a mentor to junior faculty. 

It is worth noting that Professor Yi’s passion for research is passed on to students.  He chairs our department’s PhD program, with 20 admitted students. He has advised numerous Masters and PhD thesis.  Professor Yi has also established a unique undergraduate laboratory that allows students to gain hands on experience in fabrication of Nano technology.

Professor Yi possesses great creativity, tremendous intellect, and a relentless work ethic that has resulted in worldwide recognition from his peers as a superlative researcher. Professor Yi’s demonstrated research accomplishments reflect great credit upon himself, the department and the university. The University of Michigan-Dearborn salutes him and proudly presents to him the Distinguished Research Award.

2017 Award Recipient, Jacqueline Vansant

Jacqueline Vansant, professor of German in the Department of Language, Culture and Communication in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, is the recipient of the Distinguished Research Award.

Through many years of sustained scholarly contributions to the field of German/Austrian literature and culture studies, Professor Vansant has developed path-breaking analyses in a variety of genres. Her colleagues know her as a dedicated academic, generous with her time and passionate about her work, which is interdisciplinary, accessible, creative, and internationally acclaimed.

Professor Vansant has centered her scholarly work on the constructions of ethnicities, gender, and identities in post-World War II and contemporary Austrian literature, memoirs, and films. This translated into the publication of two academic books, and a third under contract, as well as many articles, book chapters, edited collections, and presentations, Her first book, Against the Horizon: Feminism and Postwar Austrian Women Writers , is a socio-historical study of five Austrian women writers. Her second book, Reclaiming ‘Heimat’: Trauma and Mourning in Memoirs by Jewish-Austrian Réemigrés, combines cultural and social theory with literary analysis to conclude that these accounts are both testimonies of a troubled era and attempts by the authors to reclaim their place in Austrian history.

Austria Made in Hollywood is a book-length study under contract that builds on Professor Vansant’s previous work on Austrian national identity. The first scholarly investigation of films set in Austria and produced in Hollywood between 1923 and 1995, this study brings to light implied cultural commentaries on both contemporary America and Austria, and uncovers the factors contributing to the films’ evolution, including the influential role of Hollywood producers and directors who were Austrian exiles from Nazi Germany.

Extending her work in exile studies, Professor Vansant has contributed a number of related publications and projects, including a groundbreaking edited collection-in-progress of letters chronicling the exile and wartime experiences of a group of young Jewish refugees from post-Anschluss Austria.

If these books comprised her entire body of research, they would be an exceptional achievement, but they do not begin to cover Professor Vansant’s contributions. Her versatility as a scholar is underscored by her publications in language pedagogy, including a very successful collaborative first-year textbook for teaching German, and a second-year textbook on which she is the sole author. She has also published four edited volumes and twenty-three book chapters and scholarly articles in her field’s leading journals, as well as a long list of review articles, interview pieces, article translations, and book reviews.

Professor Vansant brings credit to our university, as well, as an active participant in international scholarly communities. Her visiting professorships in Austria and Germany, her many successful grant applications, and her numerous invitations to present her research in the US and abroad provide impressive testimony for her stellar reputation. She served as the founding co-editor of Modern Austrian Literature, the journal of record in her field. Here on the UM-Dearborn campus she has organized film series, hosted many speakers and writers, and led a campus-wide semester-long series of talks, colloquia, and workshops on memory.

Professor Vansant is a prolific and original scholar whose career has the rich texture of a Renaissance tapestry, fulfilling its promise in both aggregate and detail.

2016 Award Recipient, Taehyun Shim

Taehyun Shim, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, is the recipient of this year's Distinguished Research Award.

Professor Shim joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and is currently a Professor in the department. His research areas are vehicle dynamics, vehicle handling, dynamic stability and control, all of which are related to better and safer design of automobiles. He has built a strong research program in the department in these areas through his publications, external funding, student engagement and professional connection. He has received 26 research grants, close to $1M of external funding and $300,000 of internal funding. He has published 30 technical articles in peer-reviewed international journals and 41 conference papers. He was one of the recipients of the Ralph R. Teetor Award from The Society of Automotive Engineers in 2008, which recognized his contribution to research, teaching and service to students early in his career.

Professor Shim is recognized both nationally and internationally for his research, publications and scholarly work. He is currently an editor of two international journals and serves as the vice-chair of the Automotive Transportation Systems Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Professor Shim's research has many real-life applications and safety implications in the automotive industry. They involve such topics as trailer back-up assistance, control of jack-knifing, avoidance of vehicle roll-over, etc. In fact, one of Professor Shim's research topics has resulted in four US patent awards jointly with Ford Motor Company. It has now been successfully implemented by Ford in one of its current vehicles. According to one of the reviewers of his research, "this success illustrates Professor Shim's strong capability to advance state-of-the-art technologies in ways that can directly benefit industry partners and deliver value".

The University of Michigan-Dearborn salutes Dr. Taehyun Shim and proudly presents to him the Distinguished Research Award.

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