LMC’s Lisa Yaszek Named Regents Professor; SPP’s Marilyn Brown Reappointed

Posted May 19, 2020

Lisa Yaszek, professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, has been appointed Regents Professor by the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents. Marilyn A. Brown, professor in the School of Public Policy and a Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems at Georgia Tech, who has held a three-year appointment as Regents Professor, has been reappointed for another three years.

The prestigious title is granted to tenured faculty members as a recognition of outstanding research and scholarship, and is awarded upon "unanimous recommendation of the USG institution president, chief academic officer, appropriate academic dean, and three other members of the faculty named by the president of Georgia Tech, and upon the approval of the chancellor and the Committee on Academic Affairs. The appointments are renewable at the discretion of the USG president.

Yaszek has established herself as a leading researcher at the intersections of science fiction with issues of gender, race, and technology, and is an influential voice in both academia and the wider public.

“Lisa Yaszek has made foundational contributions to our understanding of science fiction as a global language crossing centuries, continents, and cultures,” said Richard Utz, chair of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC). “Her innovative research has helped build Georgia Tech’s reputation as a pace-setter in research focusing on issues of gender, race, and technology in science fiction and she is regularly called on by scientists and artists to organize public events and by the media for expert consulting and expert commentary on the relations of science, society, and speculative art.”

She has authored and edited numerous books and book chapters on a wide range of subjects, and she has provided authoritative commentary for the AMC miniseries James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction and in publications such as The Washington Post, Food and Wine Magazine, and USA Today. She has been an expert commentator for the BBC4’s Stranger Than Sci Fi and Wired.com’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“As all of us have witnessed, Lisa's record as a scholar and educator has grown nationally and internationally, making her one of the most widely recognized academic and public intellectuals in science fiction studies,” said Richard Utz, chair of LMC. “She represents the very best of what our humanities unit can offer to scholarship and learning at a technological university: she works at the interface of literature and science, investigates the intersectionality of gender and race in diverse media forms, and projects fascinating scenarios of the future from within our present. It's exactly the kind of interdisciplinary perspective our students need to comprehend and succeed in a complex and fast-paced world.”

Two of Yaszek's main areas of scholarship are the intersection of gender and science fiction and the aesthetic of Afrofuturism. An emphasis of her work is the recovery of lost voices in science fiction history and the discovery new ones around the globe. Her monograph Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women's Science Fiction (Ohio State 2008) demonstrates the important presence of women throughout the history of science fiction. She also edited the anthologies Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction (Wesleyan 2016) and The Future is Female! Twenty-Five Early Classics of Women's Science Fiction Library of America 2018).

Yaszek has also broken ground in the study of Afrofuturism, where established forms of art are seen and imagined through the cultural lens of the African diaspora. Her essay "An Afrofuturist Reading of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man" cast that classic of science fiction in a novel, innovative light. She recently led the publication of Beyond Afrofuturism, a special double issue of the journal Extrapolation. 

Yaszek plays a lead role in maintaining Georgia Tech’s science fiction collection, a collection ranked among the best in the world by the journal Science Fiction Studies. She works to ensure that the collection is accessible to both students and the general public.

She also runs the Sci Fi Lab, where students from all disciplines and levels of education experiment with science fiction research and production, often in collaboration with local, national, and international scientists and artists. Her students benefit from the community involvement opportunities Yaszek has created connecting them with opportunities to work with events like The Outer Dark Weird Convention and the Atlanta Science Fiction Film Festival.

A past president of the Science Fiction Research Association, Yaszek currently serves as an editor for the Library of America and as a juror for the John W. Campbell and Eugie Foster Science Fiction Awards.

Yaszek earned her B.A. in English, Magna cum Laude, from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She first came to Georgia Tech in 1999 as a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow, then joined the LMC faculty as assistant professor. In 2012, she was promoted to professor.

She has been an active participant in shaping the school’s curricular programs, serving as coordinator of the Science, Technology, and Culture (STaC) degree program (now LMC), as director of Undergraduate Studies, and as associate chair.

Yaszek has earned many honors for both her research and teaching, including the Ivan Allen College Dean's Distinguished Researcher Award in 2019 and Georgia Tech’s Class of 1940 Teaching Effectiveness Award in 2016. She has also earned recognition such as the Susan Koppelman Award for Best Anthology in Feminist Studies in 2017 and the Pioneer Award for Excellence in Scholarship from the Science Fiction Research Association in 2005.

Reappointment Caps another Outstanding Year for Brown

Marilyn A. Brown, who has held a three-year appointment as Regents Professor, has been reappointed for another three years. Brown, a professor in the School of Public Policy and a Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems at Georgia Tech was named Regents Professor in 2017. This year, she was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, one of just two Georgia Tech faculty with membership in both academies.

Beginning June 1, 2020, she will serve as interim chair of Public Policy during the search for a new chair.

Brown is an international leader in clean energy policy known for her pioneering work developing economic-engineering models incorporating behavioral and social science principles into policy analysis of energy systems. Her influential research quantified the “energy-efficiency gap,” which highlights the importance of promoting cost-effective energy conservation improvements as a tool to improve energy security and reduce the impact of climate change. Among her current projects is Drawdown Georgia, a first-in-the-nation effort by Georgia Tech researchers to help identify solutions to help reduce the state’s carbon footprint in economically justifiable ways by 2030. Brown is the project’s principle investigator.

The schools of Literature, Media, and Communication and of Public Policy are units of the Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

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