8 UT faculty make Reuters’ highly cited researchers list


Jameson Pitts

Eight UT faculty members made Thomson Reuters’ 2015 Highly Cited Researchers list, which selects the top 1 percent of researchers in each field. Five engineering professors made the list, as well as professors in business, psychology and physics.

The UT faculty on the list are Jeffrey Andrews, for research in computer science, Alan Bovik, for research in engineering, Sam Gosling, for research in psychology, David Harrison, for research in economics and business, Robert Heath, for research in computer science, Thomas Hughes, for research in computer science, Allan MacDonald, for research in physics, and Sriram Vishwanath, for research in computer science.

The company develops the list through rigorous analysis of scientific literature. Christopher King, editor of intellectual property and science, said a position on the list is a testament to how the scientific community regards a researcher’s work.

“The real selection is that these people have distinguished themselves through their publications,” King said. “It’s really their peers that are selecting them.”

The University of California features the most researchers on the list, with more than 160 researchers of about 3,000 from around the world. King said the UT System consistently ranks highly.

“The combined University of Texas System can claim 40 names on the current list,” King said. “[The UT System] easily qualifies for the top 20 again.”

Sriram Vishwanath, an engineering professor listed for the second time, said the list will elevate the public profile of his and the engineering department’s research.

“I’m really hoping the outcome of this is a long-term appreciation that UT is a great place to do research, within the community and for prospective students,” Vishwanath said.

The research track record of professors may not be readily visible to students. Selected psychology professor Sam Gosling said many students only see him as a teacher.

“Students come here because it’s a prestigious university, but the secret is it’s not prestigious because of the teaching — it’s prestigious because of the research,” Gosling said. “For good or evil, that’s why people are hired here.”

Biology sophomore Alexander Thomas is one of 1600 students in Gosling’s online introductory psychology course. Thomas said he was weary of the online class format, but Gosling’s research credentials increased both his credibility and the credibility of the online video format.

“I didn’t think about how significant it is to have some of the best professors in their field to teach the fundamentals,” Thomas said.

Selected physics professor Allan MacDonald said it was nice to know his work had impact, but that citations are a limited way to gauge influence.

“Citations are just one measure of scientific impact — probably the measure that’s easiest to count,” MacDonald said. “There are many outstanding researchers on our campus who are not on that list.”