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From the Sociology of Medicine to the Songs of the Trobairitz

Georgiann Davis and Claudia Keelan earned top honors from the Nevada System of Higher Education for their research and creative accomplishments.

Research  |  Mar 14, 2018  |  By Alexandra Karosas
Portraits of Claudia Keelan and Georgiann Davis

English professor Claudia Keelan and sociology professor Georgiann Davis received Nevada System of Higher Education Regents awards.

If there’s any safe bet to be made in Las Vegas, it’s on the high-caliber scholarly and creative work that comes out of UNLV. Some of that work has recently been recognized by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents through the annual Regents’ Awards, which recognize exceptional academic and creative accomplishments that enhance the reputation of NSHE.

This year, Georgiann Davis, assistant professor of sociology, received the Regents’ Rising Researcher Award, which comes with a $2,000 stipend for her outstanding early-career accomplishments. English professor Claudia Keelan received the Regents’ Creative Activities Award in recognition of her poetry, nonfiction, and other literary efforts. Her award comes with a $5,000 stipend for her internationally recognized work.

An Academic Activist

Since joining UNLV in 2014, Davis’ groundbreaking research on the intersection of medicine and gender theory has resulted in multiple high-impact publications and several accolades, including two prestigious awards from the American Sociological Association's Sex and Gender Section: the Feminist Scholar-Activist Award and the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award.

Davis’ interdisciplinary research contributes to social justice efforts, shining a light on how social factors impact gender identity and medical diagnoses of sex—more specifically, the intersex designation. Her book Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis has garnered several national awards, and the impact Davis’ research has had on shaping policy and public perception of intersex is apparent in her many media appearances and invitations to speak as an expert on medical and social policy nationally and internationally.

“In my opinion, Davis is the epitome of a top-notch rising researcher whose work carries powerful implications for science and society,” said UNLV sociology professor and department chair Robert Futrell. Citing Davis’ participation as a subject expert in the 2017 National Geographic documentary Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, Futrell added, “Davis is a prime example of a scholar turning important, timely research into informative public action.”

A Poet for the Past and Present

As she received the Regents’ Creative Activities Award in 2010, this is the second time Claudia Keelan has been honored with this prestigious regents' award. Since joining UNLV in 1996, Keelan has received several national awards, including The Jerome Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review, and was recognized as a UNLV Distinguished Barrick Scholar in 2016.

Keelan is internationally recognized for her creative writing, which consists of nine published works of original poetry and essays, including the just published We Step Into the Sea: New and Selected Poems and Ecstatic Emigre, a collection of essays. Her book-length translation of poems by 12th century female troubadour poets titled Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz provides a contemporary reading of the medieval compositions, amplifying previously invisible female perspectives of that time and exploring issues of class and gender found within the verses.

“Keelan’s record of creative activity is ongoing and of high quality, and the excellence of her work is evident in the number of important awards and recognitions she has received throughout her career,” said Gary Totten, professor and chair of UNLV’s department of English, who recommended Keelan for the award. Totten also commended Keelan for her teaching and mentorship of graduate students in her role as editor of the international poetry journal Interim, which is “an editorial and creative feat that makes an important contribution to the literary arts in the world,” he added.