Heyman and Greer Prize recipients announced

Three junior faculty members in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have won awards for their scholarly research or publications.

Noreen Khawaja, associate professor of religious studies, has been awarded the Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication or Research, which is conferred upon outstanding junior faculty members in the humanities.

Joseph Shapiro, assistant professor of economics, and David Poland, associate professor of physics, have won the Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication or Research, given to a junior faculty member in the natural or social sciences. Shapiro was recognized for work in the social sciences and Poland for work in the natural sciences.

Khawaja won this year’s Heyman Prize for her research and recently published book, “The Religion of Existence: Asceticism in Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Sartre.” Kathryn Lofton, chair of the Department of Religious Studies, wrote of Khawaja: “Noreen is a scholar of modern Western thought in its relationship to religion. In her work, she revisits some of the most defining questions in this tradition: What is Christianity for philosophers? What is the relationship between theology and philosophy? Her answers to such questions disrupt one of the founding principles of the humanities, namely that the study of philosophy can proceed apart from the study of religion. Her scholarship shows how and why this is not so… The importance of her work is not in the insistence that religion abides. It is in what religion is in its circulation. The ambition is to revise the terms of the background to modernity, a revision in which, although it is still possible to see the road map of previous histories — Reformation, modernization, secularization — new terms and figures can come to the fore.”

Shapiro won the Greer Prize for his research and papers in the American Economic Review and the Journal of Political Economy. Department of Economics chair Dirk Bergemann says of Shapiro: “Joe is an empirical environmental and energy economist whose research incorporates approaches from the economic fields of public finance and international trade. His star has risen steadily since he joined the Yale economics department in 2013, having obtained his Ph.D. at MIT.  He has excelled in every aspect of his academic career, from research to teaching. His sharp intellect is evident in both the quality of his research and his seminar presentations, which display a depth and clarity of thought rarely seen at such early stage of career. He is one of the few people who have managed to bridge the divide between the identification-focused empirical work in fields such as labor or public finance and the ambitious, but at times empirically elusive, general equilibrium approach in international trade or macroeconomics.”

Poland won the Greer Prize in the natural sciences for his research in theoretical elementary particle physics. Paul Tipton, chair of the physics department, described Poland’s research and its significance to the field by saying: “David works on diverse topics in theoretical high energy physics, including physics beyond the Standard Model, field theory, quantum chromodynamics, and early universe physics. He is getting excellent attention for bringing a very complex theory known as conformal bootstrapping to the study of very complicated problems involving phase transitions for unusual states of matter. The ramifications of this are significant for the understanding of issues in magnetism and fluids. My impression of this is that David brought this concept back through deep insight and a very sophisticated grasp of modern mathematical techniques that might not have been appreciated, or even known, when some of the ideas for the fundamental physics were first percolating.”

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