Top Picks: Cohen, Dowell and Rokas

Owen Professor Leads Environmental Think-Tank Research

Mark Cohen, the Justin Potter Distinguished Professor of American Competitive Business and professor of law at Vanderbilt, is taking on a new role as vice president of research for Research for Resources for the Future (RFF). RFF is an independent, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to improving environmental, energy and natural-resource policymaking worldwide through social-science research of the highest caliber. Cohen has been granted a sabbatical from the Owen Graduate School of Management to lead a team of 40 researchers in Washington, D.C.

A leading expert on the enforcement of environmental regulations and on corporate crime and punishment, Cohen is co-director of the Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies and part of a team of researchers investigating greenhouse gases and individual behavior through Vanderbilt’s Climate Change Research Network.

Peabody Alumna to Oversee Library System

Connie Vinita Dowell, a Vanderbilt graduate with three decades of experience working in academic libraries, has been named dean of the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Dowell earned her master’s degree in library science from Peabody College in 1979. “Being asked to return to Vanderbilt in this capacity is truly a dream come true,” Dowell says. “Vanderbilt’s generosity to me as a student paved the way for my entire career.”
For the past nine years, Dowell has served as dean of the library and information access at San Diego State University. She previously was employed at Connecticut College for six years, starting as college librarian and then dean, later becoming vice president for information services and librarian of the college.

Biologist Awarded Searle Scholar Grant

A Vanderbilt biologist who studies the genetics of animal development is one of 15 up-and-coming professors to be named a 2008 Searle Scholar, a distinction accompanied by a $300,000 research grant. Antonis Rokas, assistant professor of biological sciences, will use the grant money over three years to study the origins and assembly of the genetic toolkit for animal development. In the long term he hopes to map the evolution of animals from their single-cell-organism predecessors.

In selecting Searle Scholars, the board looks for scientists who have demonstrated innovative research with the potential for making significant contributions to biological research over an extended period of time. The funds that support the awards come from trusts established by the wills of John G. and Frances C. Searle. John Searle was president of G.D. & Searle Co., a research-based pharmaceutical company.

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