Su-Chun Zhang named Steenbock Professor

July 21, 2015

A biologist who uses mathematical models to illuminate the changes within ecosystems and a neuroscientist who’s exploring how stem cells can treat diseases of the brain and spinal cord are the newest recipients of Steenbock Professorships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Endowed more than 30 years ago by Evelyn Steenbock — wife of Harry Steenbock, an emeritus biochemistry professor — Steenbock Professorships provide a group of outstanding UW-Madison faculty with 10 years of financial support for their research programs.

Anthony Ives, the new Steenbock Professor of Biological Sciences, joined the Department of Zoology in 1990.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ives uses mathematical models to understand patterns of variation in many ecosystems across time and space. To that end, he has studied the balance attained by agricultural pests in alfalfa fields and the pests’ numerous predators, as well as contrasting large and unpredictable fluctuations in fly populations on a lake in Iceland. Ives received the Robert H. MacArthur Award from the Ecological Society of America in 2012, and a Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008.

Su-Chun Zhang, MD, PhD
Su-Chun Zhang, MD, PhD

Su-Chun Zhang, who joined the Waisman Center and the UW–Madison neuroscience and neurology faculty in 2001, is the Steenbock Professor of Behavioral & Neural Sciences.

Zhang’s lab has successfully differentiated human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells into a wide range of nerve and neuronal cell types found in the brain and spinal cord. Zhang, who serves as director of the Molecular & Genetic Sciences Group at the Waisman Center, has also developed tools to genetically target stem cells, and built versatile transgenic human stem cell lines which are instrumental to studies of neurodegenerative diseases and drug discovery.

The remaining Steenbock professors are: Laura Kiessling, chemical sciences; James Dumesic, engineering; Jin-Yi Cai, mathematical sciences; Edward Ruby, microbiological sciences; James Ntambi, nutrition; and Robert Hamers, physical sciences.