Eisen and Silverman named 2010 Guggenheim Fellows

Judith Eisen, biology/neuroscience

Judith Eisen

Carol Silverman

Carol Silverman

EUGENE, Ore. -- (April 15, 2010) -- University of Oregon biologist Judith S. Eisen and cultural anthropologist Carol T. Silverman are among 180 artists, scientists and scholars across the United States and Canada to be named 2010 Guggenheim Fellows.

Edward Hirsch, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, announced the 86th annual awards on Wednesday. The winners were chosen from 3,000 applicants. In all, 59 disciplines and 65 different academic institutions are represented. Sixty Fellows are unaffiliated or hold only adjunct or part-time positions at universities. Since the program was established in 1925, more than $281 million in fellowships have been awarded to more than 16,900 individuals.

To date, 60 UO faculty members have won 64 Guggenheim fellowships.

Eisen, professor of biology and member of the UO's Institute of Neuroscience, will spend a year, beginning in September, designing a new technique using zebrafish to study the role of resident microbes in nervous-system development and function. She will work mostly in the UO lab of Karen Guillemin, a biology department colleague, and at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., with biologist Joe Fetcho.

These microbes, commonly called microbiota, most of which reside in the digestive tract, have become the focus of increased scrutiny for their role in human and animal health especially in the last decade. Eisen will be part of a systematic effort to explore possible connections of microbiota with development, brain function and possibly even psychiatric well-being using zebrafish models.

"This work will provide new insights into the roles of resident microbes in development and function of a host organism, and may help establish the foundation for new therapeutic approaches to human diseases in which host-microbial interactions go awry," said Eisen, who joined the UO faculty in 1985. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1973 from Utah State University and a doctorate in 1982 from Brandeis University.

Silverman, professor of anthropology and folklore, has studied Balkan music and culture for more than 20 years. With the Guggenheim fellowship, she will delve deeper into the globalization of Balkan Gypsy music, also known as Romani or Roma music, by analyzing its performance, consumption and production in relation to issues of representation.

Since the fall of communism, this music form has become a global phenomenon. Her one-year project, which begins in September, will involve fieldwork, participant observation, and media analysis in cities in the U.S., Western Europe and the Balkans. Several assistants will be part of the fieldwork team, whose exploration will look at the 2009 tour of rock musician Madonna. In addition to Guggenheim support, the project is being funded by the Oregon Humanities Center.

Silverman's book "Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora" is to be released this year. She came to the UO in 1980 as a visiting professor and officially joined the faculty in 1987. Silverman, the current head of the anthropology department, holds a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York; she earned a master's degree in 1974 and a doctorate in 1979 from the University of Pennsylvania.