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Wartella and Losh honored with new named professorships

Two School of Communication faculty members have received named professorships funded by the Qatar Foundation and by charitable gifts from an alumni family.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair

The Qatar Foundation has provided funding for a new endowed professorship in the Northwestern University School of Communication named after the leader of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. This will be the fourth professorship funded by the Qatar Foundation.

Northwestern and the Qatar Foundation have been partners since 2008, when Northwestern joined five other leading American universities that had established branch campuses at Education City, a rapidly developing community of educational and research institutions on the outskirts of Doha, Qatar.

Last year the university announced the first three professorships, funded by the Qatar Foundation, which are held by School of Communication professor Hamid Naficy, Medill School of Journalism professor Frank Mulhern, and Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences professor Carl Petry.

The fourth professorship has been awarded to Ellen Wartella, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies.

Wartella, a leading scholar of the role of media in children's health and development, joined the Northwestern faculty in April. She serves on a number of national boards advising on the influence of media on children's health. She is a co-principal investigator on a five-year multi-site research project looking at the effect of digital media on very young children funded by the National Research Foundation. She also serves on two Institute of Medicine committees, one on front-of-package nutrition messaging for packaged foods and one on obesity prevention. She is a co-editor of a number of books, including Children and Television: Fifty Years of Research (Erlbaum Associates, 2006). Wartella received her Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

"I am thrilled to be appointed to the Al-Thani chair," Wartella said. "Over the next year I hope to be able to conduct research in Qatar on the ways in which Qatari youth are using digital technologies as learning platforms."

The Jane Steiner Hoffman and Michael Hoffman Assistant Professorship

Jane Steiner Hoffman (C86) and Michael Hoffman (WCAS72, G73) are providing the funding for a new endowed professorship for junior faculty in the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Molly Losh is the inaugural Jane Steiner Hoffman and Michael Hoffman Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Losh joined the faculty in September from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she was a fellow of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at UNC after receiving her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. She also holds a degree in psychology from San Diego State University. Her research focuses on delineating the nature and basis of language impairment in autism, fragile X syndrome, and other neurogenetic disorders. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

"Everyone in the department and school has been incredibly supportive and welcoming," Losh said. "I'm thrilled to be at Northwestern, and incredibly honored to have been appointed to the Hoffman Junior Chair."