Tracy M. Sonneborn Award

Honoring faculty teaching and research accomplishments

The Tracy M. Sonneborn Award honors faculty for accomplishments in the areas of teaching and research. The award, named for the late eminent scientist Professor Tracy M. Sonneborn, is given to an exemplary researcher who is also well known as an exemplary teacher.

The winner of the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award will receive a $3,500 cash prize. In addition to this prize, research funds in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded for the purpose of supporting the research or creative activity of one (or more) of the students of the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award winner.

The Tracy M. Sonneborn Award winner will be expected to give a university-wide lecture during the fall semester following the selection. Provost Professors and the Sonneborn Award winner will have their names engraved on plaques in the Indiana Memorial Union. Nominees who do not receive these awards in the current year will be automatically reconsidered the next year, and nominators are encouraged to update the dossiers for reconsideration.

Read about the current Tracy M. Sonneborn Award recipient

2018 Sonneborn Lecture Transcript


Full-time, full professors at IU Bloomington are eligible for nomination.

Professors who hold the rank of distinguished professor, or have an endowed chair, are eligible for the Tracy M. Sonneborn Award.

Nomination process

Any member of the campus community may serve as a nominator. Nominations prepared jointly by faculty and students are encouraged. Self-nominations are not permitted.

The dossier should include:

Prior to formal submission of the complete dossier, each nominator must submit a letter of intent naming the individual to be nominated and indicating whether the nomination is for a Provost Professorship and/or the Sonneborn Award. This letter is due by 5 p.m. on November 1 at Bryan Hall Room 111.

The official nomination letter, which should be in the dossier, should not exceed three typed pages. This letter should be concise, substantive, and specific. It should demonstrate why the faculty member being nominated makes a unique contribution. In particular, it must address and cite evidence concerning:

  1. Why the research/creative activity is extraordinary in quality and originality and has had an impact on other researchers (ideas, theory, or methods) at Indiana University, nationally, and worldwide. Specific examples should be included.
  2. Why the candidate is an outstanding teacher both in and outside of the classroom. We are especially interested in teaching creatively and the influence on both undergraduate and graduate students. The letter should also cite specific, concrete examples such as outstanding curricula development, high quality textbooks, online courses created, and so forth. It should also cite evidence of effectiveness not only from teaching evaluations from students and alumni, but also from substantive, direct peer observations by several colleagues, exit interviews, BEST summaries, scholarship of teaching and learning activities, and so on.
  3. Why the individual’s teaching and research are complementary and reinforcing.

The typical dossier has six letters of support that evaluate outstanding achievement in the areas of teaching and research/creative activity.

Each of the letters of recommendation should be no longer than two typed pages. Each letter should be solicited by the nominator but addressed and mailed/emailed directly to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.

Letters of support may be solicited from faculty at IU or elsewhere, current and former students, or any other knowledgeable individuals inside or outside of IU Bloomington.

Include a current curriculum vitae.

Include a current list of the candidate’s teaching activities, including the type of teaching, the section number, name, and size of the courses, or the number of students receiving one-on-one instruction taught during the last five years.

Information about awards to past students and/or publications or employment of past students is also relevant.

A total of no more than eight pieces of evidence of the candidate’s best work in each area of research/creative activity and teaching output should be included in the dossier.

The committee values quality of documentation rather than quantity.

How to submit the dossier

All materials (except letters of support) should be assembled by the nominator in a single digital file (PDF or Word document) and sent by email no later than February 1 (new extended deadline) to

Mail or email letters of support directly to:

Committee on Provost Professorships and the Sonneborn Award
Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs
Bryan Hall, Room 111
107 S. Indiana Avenue
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

Past Sonneborn recipients
2018Anya Peterson Royce, Anthropology, Comparative Literature
2017Domenico Bertoloni Meli, History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
2016John L. Lucaites, English
2015Don Hossler, Education
2014Susan H. Williams, Law
2013Anne Pyburn, Anthropology
2012Richard Miller, Religious Studies
2011Stephen Watt, English
2010Carmen Helena Tellez, Music
2009David E. Clemmer, Chemistry
2008Meredith West, Psychological and Brain Sciences
2007W. Claude Baker, Jr., Music
2006David Baker, Music
2005Anthony V. Ardizzone, English
2004Pam Walters, Sociology
2003Milos Novotny, Chemistry
2002David R. Williams, Chemistry
2001George D. Kuh, Education
2000Vic Viola, Chemistry
1998Douglas R. Hofstadter, The Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition
1997Linda B. Smith, Psychological and Brain Sciences
1996David Pisoni, Psychological and Brain Sciences
1995Stephen J. Stein, Religious Studies
1994James Naremore, English
1993James Craig, Psychological and Brain Sciences
1992Malcolm Chisolm, Chemistry
1991Martha McCarthy, Education
1990Charles Parmenter, Chemistry
1989Robert J. Meier, Anthropology
1988David Dilcher, Biology
1987Gary Hieftje, Chemistry
1986Janos Starker, Music