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Baranec, Brown and Kuhn headshots
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2017 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research honorees, from left, Christoph J. Baranec, James Dean Brown and Jeffrey R. Kuhn.

The 2017 Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research was awarded to Christoph J. Baranec, James Dean Brown and Jeffrey R. Kuhn.

The research medal is awarded by the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents in recognition of scholarly contributions that expand the boundaries of knowledge and enrich the lives of students and the community.

Regents’ medal honorees

Christoph J. Baranec
Assistant Astronomer, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Christoph Baranec is an assistant astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy. He designs, builds and uses adaptive optics systems—instruments that overcome the blurring effects of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Baranec won an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2014 for leading the development of the world’s first automated adaptive optic system, Robo-AO. Observations from this system appear in 30 scientific publications, with more in preparation. These include several adaptive optics surveys with the most numerous observations ever performed, including all of the several thousands of Kepler candidate exoplanet hosts and all known stars within 80 light years, observable from the northern hemisphere.

Baranec currently leads the effort to deploy an upgraded version of Robo-AO to the University of Hawaiʻi 2.2-meter telescope which will achieve resolutions approaching that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

James Dean Brown
Professor, College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, Department of Second Language Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

James Dean “JD” Brown has made outstanding contributions to the field of applied linguistics in the areas of language testing, language curriculum design, language research methods and the teaching of connected speech.

Since joining the Department of Second Language Studies at UH Mānoa, he has trained hundreds of graduate students and served on 44 doctoral committees. His 370 publications include 25 books, 23 monographs, 51 peer-reviewed articles, 74 book chapters and many others, all of which have garnered nearly 12,000 citations. As a speaker, he has delivered 60 invited plenary/keynote speeches, 56 peer-reviewed conference presentations and more than 300 other invited lectures and workshops.

This Fulbright Senior Scholar has earned the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Award; the International Language Testing Association Samuel Messick Award; and the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature Excellence in Scholarship and Research Award.

Jeffrey R. Kuhn
Astronomer, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Jeffrey Kuhn is an astronomer with the Institute for Astronomy. He is a physicist who joined UH in 1998 to study the sun. Kuhn is internationally recognized for improving the understanding of the global properties of the sun—its mean structure, rotation and the physics of its variability.

On Haleakalā, Kuhn built a telescope that measures the weak magnetism of the sun’s outer atmosphere. This unusual instrument demonstrates how the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, now under construction on Haleakalā, will revolutionize the understanding of the inconstant sun’s effect on the Earth.

He currently works on optical concepts that may someday enable large, next-generation instruments to detect signatures of life on nearby exoplanets.

He is also a vocal advocate for university efforts to engage non-academic partners with academic researchers in order to create useful technologies.

Please contact your campus chancellor’s office for more information about the application process.

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