VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota College of Arts & Sciences has named Paula Mabee, Ph.D., the Nolop Distinguished Professor and Cliff Summers, Ph.D., the Nolop Professor. Both are faculty members in the biology department.
A selection committee named Mabee and Summers to these professorships in recognition of their internationally recognized scholarly contributions in fundamental and applied medically relevant research and for teaching in USD’s medical biology program.
Mabee joined the USD biology faculty in 1997 and has since earned numerous honors for her research, including, nationally, her election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and president for the Society of Systematic Biologists. At USD, Mabee has received the President’s Award for Research Excellence and President’s Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Her numerous scholarly contributions in medically relevant research include the ability to render organismal traits and their evolution computable, which is a critical development in understanding the human genome and the bases for disease. Her many competitive externally funded research awards from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health have totaled more than $6.8 million. In addition, Mabee recently served as division director for the Division of Environmental Biology at the NSF, where one of her initiatives included a collaborative global health partnership with China to study the dynamics of pathogen transmission. For advancing liberal arts education through integrated teaching and research, Mabee was awarded the prestigious Cutler Award. Many of the graduate and undergraduate students trained in her laboratory at USD have chosen careers in science and medicine.
A faculty member in the USD department of biology for 27 years, Summers also holds a joint appointment as a professor in the division of basic biomedical sciences in USD’s Sanford School of Medicine and holds an appointment with the Sioux Falls VA, Veterans Affairs Research Service. A fellow of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, he has published 110 peer reviewed scientific papers. Summers’ medically relevant research includes his current project that explores the development of a new method to reduce anxiety and depression through activation of certain receptors in the region of the brain that modulates fear conditioning and stress. His work is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Summers’ research achievements been made possible by seven students graduating with the Ph.D. degree (with two more in training) and 13 with the M.S. degree in his lab. A two-time winner of the Belbas-Larson Award, USD’s premier teaching honor, Summers has supervised more than 125 undergraduate researchers in his laboratory, many of whom have gone on to careers in science and medicine.
“The College of Arts & Sciences is fortunate to have faculty of such high caliber and to be able to recognize them through the generous contributions of donors like the Nolop Family,” said Michael Kruger, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
The professorships honor the life and legacy of Keith Bradley Nolop, M.D, who graduated with a degree in biology from USD in 1975 and had a distinguished career of more than 25 years in drug development, with a focus on allergy and asthma products, and groundbreaking, highly engineered cancer treatments. He died in May 2016 after a bicycle accident near his home in Pacific Palisades, California. His estate donated funds to establish the Nolop Institute for Medical Biology at USD.