Three A&S scholars honoured with prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships

April 21, 2020 by Jovana Jankovic - A&S News

Three Arts & Science scholars are among the recipients of this year’s prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships — one of the world’s most distinguished honours for mid-career academics who have produced groundbreaking scholarly work and continue to show exceptional promise for future research.  

“Congratulations to Professors Dyzenhaus, Shternshis and Stephan,” said Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “Receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the great career achievements for a researcher and these three stellar scholars could not be more deserving of this prestigious recognition.” 

The three A&S faculty members comprise a wide range of academic fields, from Jewish studies to legal philosophy to inorganic chemistry.  

David Dyzenhaus is University Professor of Law and Philosophy. He joined the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Faculty of Law at U of T in 1990.  

Dyzenhaus grew up in South Africa during apartheid, and his academic career has been devoted to the study of how law can at one and the same time be a tool of oppression and emancipation. His research examines the practical implications of political and legal philosophy in scenarios such as conflict, occupation, states of emergency and transitional justice. His current work is on the ‘politics of legal space,’ focusing on the legal orders of China, Israel and the antebellum United States.  

Dyzenhaus has published four books, has edited or co-edited 12 collections of essays, authored more than 100 academic articles, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honours including a Fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada. 

“The Guggenheim Fellowship will provide me with the time to research properly my topic and to discipline my thoughts into written form,” says Dyzenhaus, “perhaps to the point where I will have a book ready for publication the following year.” 

Anna Shternshis is a scholar of Yiddish and Russian Jewish history and culture. An author of two books and dozens of articles on Soviet Jewish experience, she is currently working on Yiddish music created in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. Shternshis’ award-winning work on Jewish history and popular culture is both academically influential and impactful to a wide array of audiences.  

In 2018, she created the Grammy-nominated Yiddish Glory project, which excavated and revived forgotten Yiddish music written during the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and her Guggenheim Fellowship will support her work on a book on this topic.  

Shternshis received her doctorate from Oxford University in 2001and joined the University of Toronto that same year. She currently holds the position of Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish studies in the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures and the Centre for Diaspora & Transnational Studies. She is also director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science.  

“My work focuses on giving voices to Jewish women and children who created Yiddish songs documenting their lives in Nazi ghettos during the Holocaust,” says Shternshis. “Getting the Guggenheim Fellowship to work on this project in the midst of today's crisis feels strangely hopeful because I strongly believe that knowing suffering, heroism, resilience, and yes, the music of the past, gives us strength for the present and the future.” 

In the field of inorganic chemistry and catalysis — the acceleration of chemical reactions — University Professor Douglas W. Stephan is a global leader. His research focuses on developing new kinds of catalysts, targeting new materials, chemical processes and commercial applications.  

The author of more than 500 scientific articles, Stephan has been designated a “highly cited researcher” for the past six years by the Institute for Scientific Information, indicating that his papers rank in the top one per cent of citations in the field. 

Stephan was a NATO postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University after receiving his PhD from the University of Western Ontario in 1980. He joined the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T in 2008 as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair after 25 years as a faculty member at the University of Windsor. Stephan has received other national and international awards, including Humboldt and Killam Fellowships. He is a Fellow of the Royal Societies in the UK and Canada, a Corresponding Member of North-Rhein-Westfaelia Academy of the Sciences and Arts and an Einstein Visiting Fellow at Technischen Universität Berlin as well as the recipient of the 2019 J. C. Polanyi Award from NSERC of Canada.   

“It is a terrific honour to be considered among this diverse and select group of artists, scholars and scientists,” says Stephan. “This recognition is a tribute to the graduate students, undergraduates and postdoctoral fellows that have worked in my group over the years. I am grateful to them as well as my collaborators and colleagues.” 

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has offered fellowships to artists, scholars and scientists in all fields annually since 1925. This year, a diverse group of 175 writers, scholars, artists and scientists were selected through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants. In its history, more than 100 Guggenheim fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates.