Laura Kiessling, Ken Raffa appointed Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professors

Biochemistry professor Laura Kiessling and entomology professor Ken Raffa have been appointed Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professors and Douglas D. Sorenson Professors.

The five-year professorships come with a total of $75,000 in flexible funds, including $50,000 from the university’s Vilas Trust and $25,000 provided by CALS, specifically from a UW Foundation account established by Douglas and Juanita Sorenson. The funds can be used for books, research travel, supplies or similar expenses incurred in pursuit of scholarly activity. After the professorships end, Kiessling and Raffa are welcome to keep the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor title for the duration of their UW-Madison careers.

Laura Kiessling. Photo by: Jeff Miller

Laura Kiessling, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Chemistry, has served the University of Wisconsin-Madison for over 24 years. She is a leading figure in chemical biology and her research has provided new insights and discoveries in several areas of biochemical principles, changing existing paradigms. She has been heavily involved in leadership and service roles in the college, university and beyond, including service as the director of the Keck Center for Chemical Genomics since 2002 and the director of the NIH Chemistry-Biology Interface Program since 2003. She has won numerous and prestigious awards for her work and has made significant contributions in teaching and training our future generation of scientists.

Ken Raffa

Ken Raffa, professor in the Department of Entomology, has served the University of Wisconsin-Madison for over 30 years. He is a highly-regarded and highly-influential scholar in the area of forest insects and their effects and interactions with changing landscapes, natural resource management and ecosystem functioning. He is highly productive in publishing his work, which has resulted in over 9100 citations, with at least 21 papers cited at least 100 times. He has shared his work and interacted with various agencies, policy makers and initiatives, with the goal of making his research accessible and applicable to decision-makers and other researchers in various fields. He has made significant contributions to teaching both undergraduate and graduate students and to the mentorship of highly successful graduate students.