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Paul Armsworth, an ecologist whose research helps conservation organizations be more effective, has been selected as a James R. Cox Professor.

The three-year award provides Armsworth with a stipend of $25,500 to support his research. He is an associate professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Paul_Armsworth“This award is an indication of the high regard in which Paul is held by his colleagues,” Provost Susan D. Martin said. “We are proud to have Paul at UT and we wish him continued success in his teaching, research, and service endeavors.”

Armsworth and his lab team combine mathematical modeling, statistical analyses, and field surveys to improve the success of organizations’ conservation investment strategies and to better understand population and community dynamics.

“Governments and conservation organizations invest billions of dollars each year in conservation efforts,” Armsworth said. “These investments are intended to slow ongoing losses of biodiversity and to protect the flow of life-sustaining and enhancing services provided to people by ecosystems. In our work, we collaborate closely with federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses to help them design these investments to be more targeted and effective.”

The award is named for Knoxville native James R. Cox, whose gifts to the university through his sister and nephew, Charlotte and Jim Musgraves, helped establish the professorships in 2002 for faculty in the arts, theater, biological and physical sciences, architecture, and forestry studies. Recipients are chosen by a committee for their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.

Armsworth left his native Scotland as a teen, and his studies and research career took him all over the world before he joined the UT faculty in 2009. His background is interdisciplinary—he earned his first doctoral degree in mathematics in Australia before shifting continents and disciplines to obtain a second PhD, in biology, in the United States.

Armsworth’s interdisciplinary approach is evident in his research and teaching today. His courses are cross-listed between departments and routinely attract students from many different majors. He also helps organize a prominent interdisciplinary research forum on the campus and is associate director for the National Science Foundation’s $35 million interdisciplinary center, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, based at UT.

Armsworth, who is being promoted to professor next month, has also been awarded a UT Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award and the Chancellor’s Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement.

Previous recipients of the Cox Professorship include Nate Sanders, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Beauvais Lyons, professor in the School of Art; and Tricia Stuth, associate professor of architecture.




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