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Aldrich, Fitch, Shelden honored with Dreiser Award

April 12, 2018

Three Indiana State University faculty members have received the 2018 Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research and Creativity Award.

Stephen Aldrich, associate professor of geography, Richard Fitch, professor of chemistry, and Michael Shelden, professor of English, were honored during the annual Faculty Recognition Banquet Thursday.

The Dreiser Award was named for the early 20th century author who grew up in Terre Haute and recognizes full-time Indiana State faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to their disciplines.

On faculty since 2009, Aldrich has served as interim chair of the department of earth and environmental systems since 2017. He has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed journal publications, book chapters and book reviews.

In 2017, he was formally elected secretary of Indiana State's Graduate Council and served as chair and vice-chair the two previous years. He also served as a National Science Foundation senior panelist in fall and has been a content area consultant for "The Hoosier Science Teacher" since fall 2009.

Aldrich has been a member of the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers since spring 2004. He joined the Association of American Geographers in fall 2002 and was inducted into the Gamma Theta Upsilon, Alpha Sigma Chapter in April 2001.Aldrich has a Ph.D. in geography with specialization in environmental science and public policy and a master's degree in geography from Michigan State University and a bachelor's degree in geography and environment and society from Clark University.

"I was honored to even be nominated, because I think there are a lot of really great scholars at IndianaState University. To be considered one of them as a recipient of the Dreiser Award is humbling," Aldrich said. "We need to celebrate scholarship at Indiana State, and this award is a great way to do that. Scholarship is a big deal in an individual faculty member's life and to have it recognized externally is rewarding. The type of scholarship I do - field research where I interview people in their homes and businesses in the Brazilian Amazon - requires other people to provide information, so I want to recognize that my research has been made possible by my research participants."

Fitch's fields of interest include natural product isolation, synthesis and pharmacology.

He has had numerous publications and patents and is involved in several organizations, including American Chemical Society (Division of Organic Chemistry, Division of Medicinal Chemistry, Wabash Valley Local Section Chair, Secretary, Executive Committee), American Society of Pharmacognosy, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (Molecular Pharmacology Division, Neuropharmacology Division), Sigma Xi, Council on Undergraduate Research, Indiana Academy of Science (chemistry chair), Central States Universities Incorporated (Indiana State representative), Society for Neuroscience and the International Society for Neurochemistry.

Fitch received his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Louisville and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Western Kentucky University.

"I am very honored to have been selected for the Dreiser Award and thank the committee, as well as my chair Eric Glendening, for recommending me for it. In the 15 years since I first arrived at ISU, I have been fortunate to work with a great group of colleagues in chemistry and physics and I appreciate the support they have given me to pursue my research," he said.

"I also am indebted to the many undergraduate students who have come through my lab and do a lot of the work. Our undergraduates at ISU are talented and energetic, as are the local high school students I occasionally get to work with, especially during our Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) program. The kids keep me young and on my toes. I also want to thank my department, the college, university and outside agencies and foundations for funding my work. Finally, I must thank my wife, Connie, for putting up with my work and research schedule for 25 years and counting."

Shelden, who has been on faculty at Indiana State since 1979, is a respected biographer. In addition tobiographies of George Orwell and Mark Twain, he has published works on Graham Greene and Winston Churchill.

He worked for a decade as the fiction critic for the Baltimore Sun and served as features writer for London's Daily Telegraph for more than 10 years. His work has appeared in The Shakespeare Quarterly, Victorian Studies and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

His New York Times bestseller, "Mark Twain: Man In White," which was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by the Library Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. His "Orwell: the Authorized Biography" was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

In 2014, he was the national winner for the Indiana Authors Awards, given annually by the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Fund. The Indiana Bicentennial Commission also included him among its 200 notable authors representing two centuries of Indiana literary history.

Shelden has a Ph.D. and a master's degree from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska."I was in the first of my four decades at ISU when I heard that the university had a special award for research," Shelden said. "I hoped one day to win it, but I never dreamed I'd be around long enough to get the Dreiser award three times. It's very gratifying."


Photo: - Stephen Aldrich

Photo: - Richard Fitch

Photo: - Michael Shelden

Writer: Betsy Simon, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or

Story Highlights

Stephen Aldrich, associate professor of geography, Richard Fitch, professor of chemistry, and Michael Shelden, professor of English, have received the 2018 Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research and Creativity Award.

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