Laura Punnett Awarded University Professorship

Honor Reflects Exemplary Teaching, Research and Service

Laura Punnett received the prestigious title of University Professor.

Laura Punnett received the prestigious title of University Professor.

06/30/2013
By Karen Angelo

Prof. Laura Punnett of the Department of Work Environment, an internationally respected leader in public health and ergonomics, has been awarded the prestigious title of University Professor. 

The three-year appointment is the highest distinction bestowed on a UMass Lowell faculty member, recognizing exemplary contributions to teaching, research and service.  Her colleagues, friends and family gathered at a Sept. 19 reception to recognize her outstanding accomplishments.

“I am honored to receive this distinction,” says Punnett. “It is an institutional endorsement and recognition of the strong team that we have built in the Department of Work Environment over the past 25 years. We enjoy a remarkable depth of collaboration among faculty members, research staff and graduate students which has made our collective accomplishments possible.”

In his nomination letter, Prof. David Kriebel of Work Environment, said, “It is not an exaggeration to say that Dr. Punnett is one of the top researchers internationally in the epidemiology of work-related muculoskeletal disorders. I believe that her achievements during her career at UMass Lowell are testimony to her scholarship and reputation as an engaged scholar.”

Punnett is a founding member of the Department of Work Environment, arriving at the University in 1987. For the past seven years, she has also led the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace, a research center of excellence funded by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) with more than $9 million to date. 

College of Health Sciences Dean Shortie McKinney, writing in support of the nomination, described Punnett as “one of those rare academicians who excels in all three areas expected of faculty: teaching, research and service ... her students have moved on to leadership positions in academia, non-profit institutions and research institutes, making her influence on the future of her field even stronger.”

Punnett was lauded for her strong mentorship to pre-tenure faculty, helping them advance their research initiatives.

McKinney wrote: “Despite her extremely productive career of publication, preparation and administration of grants ... she shows a consistent willingness to support other faculty within the department, college and University.”

As University Professor, Punnett joins a prestigious group of previous recipients: biology Priof. Susan Braunhut (2008-11), work environment Prof. Kenneth Geiser (2009-12), Chair of the Physics and Applied Physics Department Robert Giles (2011-13), Graduate School of Education Prof. Regina Panasuk and plastics engineering Prof. Stephen McCarthy