Among the academic achievements celebrated at the Sept. 15 virtual Convocation, three faculty members were honored with the Deans’ Award for Research and Creativity: Greg Friedman, William Gibbons and Abbie Shipp.
“This is a $2,500 award presented to three faculty members who have produced the highest quality research as a creative activity over the last several years,” said Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. before announcing the finalists and winners.
The colleges/schools nominate one faculty member, while AddRan College nominates one from each of its divisions — Humanities and Social Sciences. Nominees have been full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members at TCU for at least five years, and their research or creative activity has been recognized nationally or internationally.
Greg Friedman, Ph.D., professor and chair of mathematics, College of Science & Engineering
“It is truly an honor to have my research recognized,” said Friedman, whose work has been published in more than 30 research articles and whose book Singular Intersection Homology will be published this fall by Cambridge University Press. “TCU has very many outstanding researchers, all of them doing amazing work. So I’m very proud to have my own work singled out this year, and I hope I can serve as a worthy representative of all that great activity going on across the university.”
Friedman works in the mathematical area of topology, which is similar to geometry but “more bendy,” he said.
“Like geometers, I study spatial objects more so than equations or numbers. But whereas geometry studies directly measurable quantities like lengths or angles, topology is more concerned with those properties of an object that remain preserved under bending or stretching, such as the number of holes in an object or the pattern of over- and under-crossings in a knotted piece of string,” he explained. “In my particular case, I tend to study higher-dimensional spaces with singularities. These are objects that can have ‘bad’ local behavior, such as the way that space might collapse near a black hole.”
Friedman has given talks all over the world. He has held research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation as well as short-term visiting positions in France and Israel. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he graduated from Brown University, earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from NYU and held research and teaching appointments at Vanderbilt University, Yale University and NYU before coming to TCU in 2005.
“When I interviewed at TCU, I just fell in love with the math department and especially the people and the culture. Everyone was so inviting, and it was such a collegial atmosphere. It really felt like a place where I could flourish,” he said.
“After all these years, it’s still the people and the interactions that I get to have that I love most, though over the years this has expanded out from the math department to now getting to interact with people from all across the university,” he added.
In addition to research and teaching, Friedman enjoys the service aspects of his job, such as serving on the Faculty Senate, on committees and, more recently, as a department chair. “I like being able to believe that I’m helping others to be more successful in their activities.”
More about Friedman:
Favorite food? Definitely the New Jersey-style Italian food I ate growing up in New Jersey.
Hobbies? I actually have a lot of hobbies. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I can’t engage in my more active hobbies like playing ice hockey or swing dancing at the moment, so I’m focusing more on some of my other hobbies, particularly watching movies and learning to cook.
Are you a pet person? I’m a dog person. I grew up with lots of really big dogs, but now my wife and I have a miniature dachshund.
William Gibbons, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of musicology, School of Music, College of Fine Arts
“Being a recipient of this year’s Deans’ Award is a huge honor for me,” Gibbons said. “I have so many brilliant and talented faculty colleagues, and I can’t imagine how difficult this choice must be. It’s really an encouraging vote of confidence to be selected from such a distinguished group.”
After starting off as an opera scholar, more recently Gibbons has focused on music in multimedia — film, television and especially video games. In addition to presenting at universities and conferences across the U.S. and Europe, he has published numerous journal articles, book chapters and reviews as well as four books. He’s currently working with a colleague in Denmark to edit The Oxford Handbook of Video Game Music and Sound, which will be the largest volume on this topic to date.
Gibbons is especially interested in how music of the past takes on new meanings over time — which is the main theme of his 2013 book Building the Operatic Museum. His 2018 book Unlimited Replays: Video Games and Classical Music explores how “art” and “entertainment” interact in contemporary media, he said. “People consume more music through media than through any other source, so I’m really invested in picking apart how music affects and influences us in that setting.”
He earned a BA from Emory & Henry College and MA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He admits that when he came to TCU as an assistant professor in 2011, he knew almost nothing about Texas or Fort Worth. “But I’ve always been really compelled by TCU’s central mission of helping our students become ethical leaders and responsible citizens, which I think is the most important part of higher education today,” he said.
Asking the “big questions” is the best part of his roles as educator, researcher and now associate dean, he said. “How do we plan ahead for what arts education and careers might look like in 10 or 20 years? How do we ensure the arts play an ongoing role in making TCU and our community more diverse, equitable and inclusive? Those kinds of questions are challenging, but also really exciting.”
More about Gibbons:
Go-to morning beverage? Coffee! I’m usually sipping a cup in my office, and I typically take a daily break to walk down to Ampersand for a latte. I’ve been joking that I’ll use the financial part of the Deans’ Award to finance enough coffee for my next book project.
Favorite food? I’m a big foodie and love trying new restaurants and learning about food from cultures around the world.
Hobbies? I definitely still make time to play video games when I can — it’s also part of my research. Since COVID I’ve been making a point to play games that let me explore some new worlds, as a kind of virtual travel without having to leave Fort Worth. Some of my favorites recently have been The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Outer Wilds and Disco Elysium.
Abbie Shipp, chair and professor of management and leadership, Neeley School of Business
“I was absolutely surprised and honored to have won this university-wide award,” Shipp said. “Research is a long-term endeavor with substantially more criticisms — through peer review — than accolades. To know that my research program is valued by TCU leadership is such a gift.”
Shipp studies the psychological aspects of time at work, including trajectories of work experiences, temporal focus, time allocation, the experience of change and person-environment fit over time. “Essentially, I use time to solve organizational problems around employee engagement,” she said.
Her work has been published in such journals as Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and Personnel Psychology. She also is the co-editor of a two-volume book, Time and Work.
Named a Neeley MBA “Favorite Professor” six times, Shipp received the 2009 Lockheed Martin Excellence in Teaching Award, the 2014 Neeley Innovation in Teaching Award and the 2017 Neeley Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award.
She completed a BS and MBA at Oklahoma State University and a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to positions in human resources at Boeing and TV Guide, Shipp has consulted for Ernst & Young, Marriott, Halliburton, Inspirus and AT&T.
In 2011, a TCU professor reached out to see if she would be interested in an opening.
“By chance, my husband and I were looking at job opportunities across all the major cities within Texas, so the timing was perfect. What really drew me to TCU was the teacher-scholar model. I wanted a place where teaching and research were both valued, and collegiality was a top priority as well. I found all three at TCU,” she said.
“I basically get paid to do my favorite activities — read, think, write — and I get to do them with smart, compassionate and funny colleagues. How many people are so lucky?”
More about Shipp:
Favorite way to unwind? Floating in the pool and looking at the clouds. It’s the only time my brain stops.
Hobbies? Running, reading, yoga, cooking and laughing with my husband and 15-year-old son.
Are you a pet person? I love dogs like other people love babies.
A surprising fact people may not know about you? I was dangerously close to quitting academia in my second year on the tenure track. I was convinced that my research would never get published. I’m glad I stayed!