Liberal Arts professors named Cornerstone Faculty Fellows

The College of Liberal Arts will recognize the three new Cornerstone Faculty Fellows at the annual Fall Reception on Oct. 1.

The Cornerstone Faculty Fellowships in Liberal Arts are presented to up to four tenured professors who have developed outstanding professional records through remarkable classroom contributions, external funding, and service on major committees. 

The College will award each 2014 recipient a total of $30,000 over four years, intended to support and bolster further research.

Gerianne Alexander, from the Department of Psychology and Associate Dean of Research Programs, specializes in the study of human sex differences. Her research program focuses on how social influences and hormones in pre- and postnatal life contribute to sex differences in social and cognitive behavior.

Her findings have been internationally recognized in popular publications such as Newsweek and Scientific America, as well as on a National Geographic television documentary called “The Testosterone Factor,” among others.

Douglas Woods, the head of the psychology department, said, “When a faculty member does one thing well, they often do everything well, and Gerianne Alexander is no exception. She is a strong researcher and a gifted instructor, so perhaps it is not surprising that she has had a strong and long-lasting impact to the department and College through her service.”

Alexander received her doctorate in clinical psychology from McGill University and joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 2002.

She has published more than 50 research articles in high-impact journals, and her research has been funded by major grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation.

She is also the editor-in-chief of the Review of General Psychology, the American Psychological Association Division 1 journal.

Darryl J. de Ruiter, from the Department of Anthropology, became a staff member at Texas A&M in 2003.

He specializes in paleoanthropology, a field that uses fossil evidence of early hominins to establish theories about human evolution. One of his most exciting projects came in 2008, when he discovered a new hominin species in South Africa, called the Australopithecus sediba. His team’s findings have been widely publicized, including in the journal Science.

“His publications are clearly making an impact on the field, as evidenced by the high quality of publication venues, his citation statistics, and the media coverage of his research projects,” said Cynthia Werner, head of the Department of Anthropology.

de Ruiter also teaches several undergraduate and graduate courses for the department and, in 2013, presented the College of Liberal Arts’ prestigious Fallon-Marshall Lecture.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition from the College of Liberal Arts,” he said. “This Cornerstone Faculty Fellowship will allow me the freedom not only to continue with my current research program, but also to pursue intriguing new avenues of inquiry. One of the most difficult phases of any research project is its initial commencement, before funding has been secured. The Cornerstone Faculty Fellowship will bridge this funding gap, and allow me the opportunity to undertake novel research questions in collaboration with new international colleagues.”

de Ruiter is also the recipient of the Ray A. Rothrock ’77 Fellowship in Liberal Arts, which recognizes newly-appointed associate professors for their outstanding contributions in research, teaching, and service.

William Alex McIntosh, from the Department of Sociology, specializes in the Sociology of Nutrition—the study of food, consumerism, and issues related to food security, obesity, and health.

His is seen as a relatively new area of study, and his 1996 book, Sociologies of Food and Nutrition, is considered a landmark by many scholars. In addition to his book, he has published close to 70 articles and chapters in leading sociological journals.

“[McIntosh] has always contributed to the department, and especially to his students,” said Jane Sell, the head of the sociology department. “The high esteem that his students and colleagues hold for him is demonstrated by his receipt of both the College- and university-level teaching awards, his very high student evaluations, and the often-expressed praise of his students.”

Since joining the faculty in 1975, McIntosh started the “School Based Obesity Project,” as well as “Using Family Focused Garden, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Programs to Reduce Childhood Obesity.”

“It is a great honor to be recognized and supported by my colleagues, department and the College for the research that I do regarding the production and consumption of food,” McIntosh said. “My plans are to work with students on some small projects such as the organizational characteristics of local food pantries and the gender, race/ethnicity, and body size of people used in food advertisements.”

The Fall Reception will honor these and other faculty members on Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 4 p.m., at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center.