Four professors received the 2011 University of Memphis Alumni Association Distinguished
Research Award. Each accepted a $2,000 prize during the University’s annual Faculty
Convocation on April 8 in the Michael D. Rose Theatre.
The honored professors are Cary Holladay, Distinguished Achievement in the Creative Arts; Lorelei
H. Corcoran, Distinguished Research in the Humanities; Dr. Charles D. Blaha, Distinguished
Research in the Social Sciences, Business and Law; and Dr. Abby L. Parrill, Distinguished
Research in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.
The recipients of the 2011 University of Memphis Alumni Association Distinguished
Research Awards are: (from left), Dr. Abby L. Parrill, Distinguished Research in Science,
Engineering and Mathematics; Dr. Charles D. Blaha, Distinguished Research in the Social
Sciences, Business and Law; and Lorelei H. Corcoran, Distinguished Research in the
Humanities. Not pictured is award-winner Cary Holladay, Distinguished Achievement
in the Creative Arts. (Photo by Rhonda Cosentino)
Holladay, an associate professor in the Department of English, joined the faculty
at the University in 2002. In the highly competitive world of creative writing, she
has published two novels, A Fight in the Doctor’s Office and Mercury, and the short
story collections The Quick-Change Artist, The Palace of Wasted Footsteps and The
People Down South. Her stories have appeared in such publications as New Stories from
the South, Epoch and The Georgia Review.
Holladay has received numerous honors, including the Goodheart Prize, the Paul Bowles
Prize for Fiction, a Tennessee Arts Commission Fellowship and an O. Henry Prize. She
also directs the River City Writers Series. One reviewer has written of Holladay,
“She is supremely gifted as a writer. Her stories are quirky, individual, idiosyncratic,
alluring and vivid. They are unique. The effect is that her stories wedge themselves
into my consciousness long after I have read them.” Another reviewer characterizes
her work as “Southern without any clichés.”
Corcoran is a professor of Art History and director of the Institute for Egyptian
Art and Archaeology. She has an extensive list of conference and symposia papers,
invited lectures, and contributions to collected essays, refereed journals, books
and encyclopedias dedicated to the field of Egyptology. Corcoran’s recent book, Herakleides:
A Red-Shroud Portrait Mummy from Roman Egypt, co-authored with the Getty conservator
Maria Svoboda and published in fall 2010 by the J. Paul Getty Museum, is a significant
addition to Egyptian history and highlights the funerary practices and religious beliefs
of this historical period. Her 1995 book Portrait Mummies from Roman Egypt (I-IV centuries
A.D.), published by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, has become
a fundamental reference for Egyptian scholars. Corcoran has been an invited speaker
at numerous venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of
Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The British Museum in London and the National
Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands.
Blaha, a professor in the Department of Psychology since 2004, has served as director
of the Division of Experimental Psychology since 2006. An outstanding scholar with
more than 100 publications and in excess of $4.5 million in funded grants since arriving
at the U of M, Blaha has been described as a “pioneer.” His research has focused on
the neural basis of autism and deep brain stimulation for treating neurological disorders
such as Parkinson’s disease. Collaborating with scientists from around the world,
Blaha has made tremendous advances in both basic and applied psychophysiological research.
Parrill, a professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, joined the U of M faculty
in 1998. Parrill’s research accomplishments are demonstrated through the range of
publications she has appeared in, the extent to which her work is cited, external
funding, significance to advances in cancer research and treatment, visibility and
respect in the field of chemistry, and impact on graduate education at the U of M.
As a cancer researcher, Parrill has focused on understanding the structural characteristics
of phospholipid growth factor receptors and their interactions with both endogenous
(made in the body) and synthetic (from the environment) chemical compounds.