William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professors Appointments

April 29, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of four of our colleagues as William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professors. The Warren Professorship is the highest recognition that the University bestows on a faculty member. Christopher Chen, Michael Hasselmo, Xuefei Jin, and Ann McKee have been chosen to join this group, bringing the number of active Warren Professors to 13.

Christopher S. Chen is Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of Boston University’s Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory. He has been an instrumental figure in the development of cellular therapies, tissue engineering, and 3D printing, providing leadership at the interface between engineering, biology, and medicine. Dr. Chen has made seminal contributions in understanding how cellular organization, mechanics, and their environment control cell function. His over 200 publications have been cited collectively more than 44,000 times. He has received numerous honors, including the Biomedical Engineering Society’s 2019 Robert A. Pritzker Distinguished Lecture Award (the group’s highest honor), and serves as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He earned his AB in Biochemistry from Harvard, MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and PhD in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program. He also earned his MD from Harvard Medical School.

Michael E. Hasselmo is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Director of the Center for Systems Neuroscience. His research takes an interdisciplinary approach to the nature of memory and brain processes, from systems neuroscience and biochemistry to cognition and behavior. His research focuses on the physiological mechanisms of spatial navigation and memory function; he has explored important elements of the mechanisms of episodic memory, including examination of the mechanism for the coding of space and time in episodic memory by grid cells in the brain. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, and his book How We Remember: Brain Mechanisms of Episodic Memory was published by MIT Press in 2012. He serves on the editorial boards of Science, Hippocampus, and Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, among others. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received the 2015 Hebb Award from the International Neural Network Society. Professor Hasselmo graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, completed a DPhil at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech.

A 1994 graduate of Boston University’s Creative Writing Program, Xuefei Jin (pen name Ha Jin) returned to the Department of English in 2002 as a full professor. Born in China, he was a teenager when China entered the Cultural Revolution and he became a member of the People’s Liberation Army at the age of 14, an experience he would later revisit in his written work. He was studying in the United States at the time of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and suppression and realized at that time that he would be unable to return to China. His work examines themes of exile, immigration, and the now ever-present global experience of movement among cultures; his course “The Writer as Exile” is a key element of the international focus of the University’s Creative Writing Program. His novel Waiting, based on his experiences in the Red Army, was awarded the National Book Award for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize (as was his novel War Trash in 2005). His newest books are A Distant Center (2018) and his first nonfiction book, The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai (2019). His work has been translated into more than 30 languages. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ha Jin received his BA from Heilongjiang University and his master’s from Shandong University, both in China, and in 1986 came to the United States to earn his PhD at Brandeis.

Ann McKee is Professor of Neurology and Pathology at BU School of Medicine, Director of the BU Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center, and Associate Director of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center. She serves as Director of Neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System and Chief Neuropathologist for the National VA ALS Brain Bank. Dr. McKee was the first scientist to report a link between motor neuron disease and CTE, and her research has been critical in establishing the clinical and pathological spectrum of trauma-induced neurodegenerative disease. Much of her current research is focused on mild traumatic brain injury from contact sports and military service and its long-term consequences. She has also written widely on many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body disease, and Parkinson’s disease, and has received the Henry Wisniewski Lifetime Achievement Award in Alzheimer’s Research from the Alzheimer’s Association. She was named Bostonian of the Year in 2017 and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. McKee completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin and received her medical degree from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

These appointments conclude the process initiated in the fall of 2018 with a call for nominations. Professors Chen, Hasselmo, Jin, and McKee join nine other active faculty members who hold the title of Warren Professor:

  • Professor George Annas, School of Public Health/Department of Health Law, Policy & Management, 2009
  • Professor Azer Bestavros, College of Arts & Sciences/Department of Computer Science, 2017
  • Professor Catherine Costello, School of Medicine/Department of Biochemistry, Physiology & Biophysics, 2013
  • Professor Wendy Gordon, School of Law/Legal Instruction, 2011
  • Professor Keith Hylton, School of Law/Law and Economics, 2013
  • Professor Nancy Kopell, College of Arts & Sciences/Department of Mathematics & Statistics, 2009
  • Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, College of Arts & Sciences/Department of Economics, 2009
  • Professor Robert Pinsky, College of Arts & Sciences/Department of English, 2015
  • Professor Eugene Stanley, College of Arts & Sciences/Department of Physics, 2011

Professors Emeriti Thomas Kunz (College of Arts & Sciences/Department of Biology, 2011) and Bonnie Costello (College of Arts & Sciences/Department of English, 2017) retired as Warren Professors, and the late Howard Eichenbaum (2015) and James Winn (2009) were also awarded this honor.

Through their teaching, research, and scholarship, Professors Chen, Hasselmo, Jin, and McKee have served and represented our community with distinction—enriching the academic experience for our students and raising our stature as a major research university. We are pleased to honor them as William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professors. Please join me in congratulating them.


Robert A. Brown signature
Robert A. Brown