Four UNC faculty members have been awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty.
Tamara L. Berg, associate professor of computer science; Jillian Dempsey, assistant professor of chemistry; Matthew L. Kotzen, associate tenured professor of philosophy; and Lee Weisert, assistant professor of music were recognized at the Sept. 16 Faculty Council meeting.
Berg was one of the first researchers to explore what has become a central research area in computer science: the integration of vision and language. Important applications include image database retrieval, human-robot interaction and surveillance. Her work also has established connections to noncomputing disciplines, including psychology and linguistics. Berg is co-founder of Shopagon, a startup in the computer vision and retail space that uses artificial intelligence algorithms to personalize the online clothing shopping experience.
Dempsey’s expertise lies in both molecular catalysis and materials characterization. Her research program reflects a multipronged approach to studying the electron transfer processes that underpin sunlight-to-fuel energy conversion schemes, which have identified pathways for energy conversion that have unprecedented efficiency. She also is known for her work on proton-coupled electrochemical processes.
Kotzen is a leading figure in the emerging field of formal epistemology, which uses tools such as probability theory and formal learning theory to explore traditional problems in epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge, belief, justification and evidence. He earned a Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Associate Professorship for his course, “Philosophy of Comedy,” which covers topics ranging from Plato and other noted philosophers to connections between humor and moral values.
Weisert is a composer of instrumental and electronic music whose works use novel technological frameworks to expose hidden sound sources and musical structures in a range of environmental phenomena. His works also combine the principles and elements of science, mathematics and music to produce an original sonic landscape in a modern and postmodern extension of experimental music, a tradition that began in Europe in the 1950s and has since become a defining feature of recent American music.
The Hettleman Prize, which carries a $5,000 stipend, recognizes the achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track faculty or recently tenured faculty. Phillip Hettleman (class of 1921), who grew up in Goldsboro, established the award in 1986. He earned a scholarship to Carolina and in 1938 went on to found a Wall Street investment firm, Hettleman & Co.