Tufts Names Three New Distinguished Professors

Senior faculty are honored for their exceptional contributions to their disciplines, students, Tufts University, and society 

Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at The Fletcher School, Alice H. Lichtenstein, Stanley N. Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and Karen Panetta, dean of graduate education and professor of electrical and computer engineering at the School of Engineering, have been named Distinguished Professors.

The distinction is reserved for senior professors “who have made exceptional contributions to their disciplines, to their students, and to the university as teachers/scholars exemplifying the finest of Tufts' traditions,” according to the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President.

Candidates, who are recommended by school deans and endorsed by a review committee comprised of distinguished peers and emeriti faculty, also have “demonstrated societal impact and hold a significant degree of national and international recognition in their field.”

Daniel Drezner 

Drezner joined The Fletcher School in 2006 from the University of Chicago and was named a full professor in 2008. In addition to his teaching and research, he co-directs The Fletcher School’s Russia and Eurasia Program

He has held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury and received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. 

He is the author of seven books, including The System Worked: How the World Stopped Another Great Depression, All Politics is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes, and Theories of International Politics and Zombies. He has also edited three other books, including The Uses and Abuses of Weaponized Interdependence

He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Politico, and Foreign Affairs. A non-resident senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, is also a regular contributor to Foreign Policy and the Washington Post

A graduate of Williams College, he earned a master’s in economics and Ph.D.in political science from Stanford University. 

Alice H. Lichtenstein

At the Friedman School, senior scientist Lichtenstein directs the Cardiovascular Nutrition Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. She is the executive editor of the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter and associate editor of Journal of Lipid Research.

She also holds appointments as professor in the Department of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center. 

Lichtenstein’s research focuses on the intersection of diet and cardiometabolic health; her findings have contributed to current dietary recommendations on healthy eating patterns for the prevention of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. 

Her laboratory was among the first to document the detrimental effects of partially hydrogenated (trans) fat on blood lipids, work that contributed to establishing a foundation for the labeling and subsequent banning of partially hydrogenated fat by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Leadership roles beyond Tufts include vice-chair of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also has chaired the American Society for Nutrition’s Public Policy committee and served on the Food and Nutrition Board in the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She is a recipient of the Supelco Research Award by the American Oil Chemist Society and an honorary lifetime member of the National Lipid Association. 

A Cornell University graduate, Lichtenstein earned master’s degrees at Pennsylvania State University and Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in nutritional biochemistry. She also holds an honorary Ph.D. from the Medical Faculty of the University of Eastern Finland. 

Karen Panetta

Panetta joined Tufts in 1994 after a professional career as a computer architect and went on to become the first female professor to receive tenure in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is now dean of graduate education for the School of Engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering; she holds secondary appointments in computer science and mechanical engineering, 

Panetta was elected in 2023 to the National Academy of Engineering for “global leadership empowering females in STEM, and for contributions to computer vision and simulation algorithms.”  In 2022, she was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors—the first woman from Tufts to earn that honor—and also named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

An advocate for women in STEM, she has been involved with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Women in Engineering for more than a decade, serving as director from 2007-2009. She is founder and editor-in-chief of IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine. She also founded Nerd Girls to empower female engineering students. and is the co-author of Count Girls In

Her honors include a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, an IEEE Award for Distinguished Ethical Practices, and grants from NASA and the NSF. She received a U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. 

Panetta’s research focuses on developing efficient algorithms for simulation, modeling, and signal and imaging processing for security and biomedical applications. Her work is advancing cutting-edge software that uses artificial intelligence to improve medical diagnostics and to enhance robotic vision, with applications like underwater search and rescue and animal conservation. She holds degrees from Boston University. 

The three faculty members join seven current Distinguished Professors at Tufts: John M. Coffin and Jerome P. Kassirer, School of Medicine; David Kaplan, School of Engineering; Michael Levin, School of Arts and Sciences; Dariush Mozaffarian, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; Athena Papas, School of Dental Medicine; and Saul Tzipori, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

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