Out of This World: Science Writing Specialist Awarded BOV Professorship

Mark LittmannProfessor Mark Littmann, Hill Chair of Excellence in Science Writing in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, has been selected as the second recipient of the College of Communication and Information Board of Visitors Professorship.

The professorship—made possible by gifts from donors, including current and former members of the college’s Board of Visitors—is a three-year designation that recognizes and rewards outstanding faculty members whose research, creative activity, teaching, and academic and professional service have uniquely contributed to the mission of their school, the college, and the university.

CCI Dean Mike Wirth said the professorship allows the college to provide extra financial support to its best faculty members and to recognize their achievements.

“I am deeply touched—and surprised—by this honor,” Littmann said. “I am so grateful to Suzie Allard for nominating me, to the selection committee for their confidence in me, and to the College’s Board of Visitors and other benefactors for their generosity in establishing this endowed professorship. I will do everything I can to fulfill the trust they have invested in me.”

All tenured faculty in the college are eligible for the endowed professorship, which provides a supplement to their salary that they are free to use in pursuing their research interests and professional activities. The first recipient of the award was Carol Tenopir, a Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Information Sciences.

“Mark has a long and distinguished scholarly record of translating science for the public as well as researching the roots of science communication,” wrote Allard, CCI associate dean for research and a professor in the School of Information Sciences, in her nomination letter.

Littmann has published five books, one of which, Totality: Eclipses of the Sun, is in its third edition, published in both hardcover and paperback. He also has a long list of peer-reviewed articles in both communication and science journals. He’s authored a full-length play and seven short plays as well as thirty-five planetarium programs that he directed and produced, which have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of audience members in 750 planetariums around the world. In addition, he has written dozens of short books and booklets for organizations that translate science for the public.

One of Littmann’s books won the Science Writing Award of the American Institute of Physics. Another won the Elliott Montroll Award of the New York Academy of Sciences. Two of his books were named book of the year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

He has two additional books on target for publication in 2016.

Littmann has been successful in acquiring external funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health in excess of $250,000 for four projects.

Allard also noted that Littmann is an effective teacher and mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students.

“Mark consistently receives the highest numerical SAIS student evaluations in the college and is devoted to helping his students succeed both academically and professionally,” she said.

Allard noted that since 1991 Littmann has chaired the UT Science Forum, which holds weekly lunch meetings with public presentations on science topics.

CONTACT:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)