KU News Release


Oct. 13, 2011
Contact: Kevin Boatright, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, 785-864-7240

Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award winners announced

Michael Kanost


William Staples


Edward Stephens


Xiuzhi Susan Sun


LAWRENCE— The state’s most prestigious recognition for excellence in research will be presented for the 30th consecutive year at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9. The four honorees represent the University of Kansas’ Lawrence and Medical Center campuses as well as Kansas State University.

The Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards were established in 1981 by Takeru Higuchi, a distinguished professor at KU from 1967 to 1983, and his wife, Aya. The awards recognize the exceptional long-term research accomplishments of faculty at Kansas Board of Regents universities. Each award includes a plaque and a $10,000 grant for ongoing research efforts. The money can be used for research materials, summer salaries, fellowship matching funds, hiring research assistants or other support related to research.

“Kansas has outstanding professors in a wide range of fields,” said Steve Warren, KU vice chancellor for research and graduate studies. “It’s important that we recognize and encourage that level of scholarly productivity. There have been 120 awardees over the years, each distinguished by important contributions to the state and the world.”

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will speak at the presentation ceremony, which is scheduled for the new Education Pavilion at the Lied Center of Kansas. The event is free and open to the public, and it will be followed by a reception and hors d'oeuvres. Past Higuchi Award recipients who attend will also be recognized.

Awards are given in four categories: humanities and social sciences, basic sciences, biomedical sciences and applied sciences. Each award is named for former leaders of KU Endowment who played key roles in recruiting Higuchi to KU. Their financial support of KU helped enhance university research throughout the state of Kansas.

Recipients of the 2011 Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Awards are:

• Balfour Jeffrey Award in Humanities and Social Sciences
William Staples is a professor and chair of sociology at KU. He joined the faculty in 1989 and is well-known internationally for his work in the areas of social control and surveillance. His book, “Castles of Our Conscience,” examined the connection between the rise of the bureaucratic state and the emergence of the prison, poorhouse and asylum. His most recent work is a forthcoming second edition of his “Everyday Surveillance: Vigilance and Visibility in Postmodern Life,” considered a foundational work in the interdisciplinary field of surveillance studies. He also served as editor-in-chief of the award-winning two-volume Encyclopedia of Privacy.

• Dolph Simons Award in Biomedical Sciences
Edward Stephens is a professor of microbiology, molecular genetics and immunology at the KU Medical Center. He joined the faculty in 1993 and has made important and sustained contributions in the field of retrovirology, especially the causes of human AIDS. He pioneered the development of recombinant viruses that allowed researchers around the world to conduct detailed studies of the HIV-1 genes responsible for the virulence of the disease. Much of his work is carried out at the cellular or molecular level, and it centers on the Vpu protein and how it causes diseases in a target host.

• Irvin Youngberg Award for Applied Sciences
Xiuzhi Susan Sun is a university distinguished professor of grain science and industry at Kansas State, where she also serves as co-director of the Center for Biobased Polymers by Design. She joined the faculty in 1996 and is recognized as a leader of cross-disciplinary research that also results in the development of commercial products. She is the world authority on biopolymers, especially the production of chemicals and materials from renewable feedstocks in ways that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. Her work has potential applications for adhesives, bioplastics, coatings and biomedicine. She holds eight patents plus six patents pending and is noted for her entrepreneurship and innovation.

• Olin Petefish Award in Basic Science
Michael Kanost is a university distinguished professor of biochemistry at Kansas State and head of the department. He joined the faculty in 1991 and is one of the leading experts in the world in the areas of molecular insect science, insect immune systems and biochemistry. His research deals primarily with the proteins and other substances present in the blood of insects and the formation of insect exoskeletons. His work contributes to a better understanding of the role insects play in the transmission of human diseases, as well as the control of insect pests.

To RSVP by Oct. 28, contact Teresa Kopsa, (785) 864-3567. More information about the awards is available online.



The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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