Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Council

Remarks by Tim Classen, Concerning 2016 Award Winner


Good afternoon, I am Tim Classen, chair of Loyola's Faculty Council. I am very pleased to be here at the HSD Faculty Convocation to present Alan Wolfe, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, with the 2016 award for Loyola's Faculty Member of the Year. We had numerous exceptional candidates for this year's award, but Alan's credentials in research, teaching and student engagement, and service distinguished him.

Following completion of his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona, Alan completed post-doc fellowships at Cal Tech and Harvard before joining the Loyola faculty in 1989. His work at Loyola has already resulted in several commendations with faculty awards and nominations from the Medical Center's Graduate School. And Alan was named a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology earlier this year.

Alan's research has generated a steady stream of grant funding with several recent NIH awards and numerous projects with Dean Brubaker and other colleagues. Given the stiff competition and tight budgets at the NIH over the last several years, Alan's success is especially impressive. He serves on the editorial boards of several microbiology journals and his publications have received more than 5,000 citations, with over 2,500 in the last five years according to Google Scholar. His 2005 review article on "The Acetate Switch" in Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews has been cited more than 600 times and he has 12 other publications that each have over 100 citations. 

While I am a health care economist, I won't pretend to comprehend fully the implications of Alan's research program. He has performed research in the fields of signal transduction, transcription, central metabolism, and post-translational modifications. His finding that urinary bladders are not sterile has clearly had a substantial impact on the field, transformed the prevailing wisdom and developed a new understanding in the development of UTIs.

Alan's work with students has included supervising the training of numerous Loyola graduate students, post-docs and other scholars. His frequent guidance of projects with local high school students indicates his willingness to connect with the local community beyond Loyola. And it was apparent from his application letters that he is very generous with his time in assisting and mentoring junior colleagues. A colleague wrote on Alan in a nominating letter: "He is generous and selfless in sharing his work for the development of others. He is fully committed to educating the next generation of scientists. He is a true leader in interdisciplinary and translational research. Most importantly, Alan demonstrates the Jesuit values of "cura personalis" or a person for others through his research, teaching, and mentorship." 

His service includes serving as chair for next year's Bacterial Locomotion and Signal Transduction (BLAST!) conference in New Orleans and he is the co-founder (with Dean Brubaker) and co-director of Loyola's Urinary Education and Research Collaborative (LUEREC - NOT to be confused with our retreat and ecology campus with a similar acronym). This group has provided wonderful opportunities for collaboration with researchers across myriad disciplines. 

To conclude, in his statement on teaching students Alan wrote: "I have another goal in mind - to make students acutely aware that the new world they have chosen to enter has much higher expectations". Those of us on the faculty have met and exceeded very high expectations during our graduate studies and subsequently to earn a tenure at Loyola. So, it is a very great honor to recognize Alan Wolfe as this year's Faculty Member of the Year for standing out at a university and in a school with so many exceptional scholars. Please help me in congratulating him for this award!