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Francis X. Shen Named McKnight Land-Grant Professor

JANUARY 30, 2014—The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost has announced that associate professor Francis X. Shen has been named a 2014-2016 McKnight Land-Grant Professor. Shen is one of just eight University of Minnesota faculty members to be so honored. The two-year professorships include research grants of $25,000 in each year, to be used for expenditures related to the recipient's research and scholarship.

Shen joined the Law School faculty in 2012. He is an affiliated faculty member with the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences, and with the Center for Cognitive Sciences. He also serves as executive director of education and outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. He completed his B.A. in economics and English at the University of Chicago in 2000, his J.D. at Harvard Law School in 2006, and his Ph.D. in government and social policy at Harvard University and the Kennedy School of Government in 2008. He has taught at Tulane University Law School and at Harvard (receiving five certificates of distinction for excellence in teaching from the university's Derek Bok Center) and has been a visiting scholar at Vanderbilt University Law School.

In his research and teaching, Shen examines the increasingly important intersection of law and the brain sciences. His work is aimed at delineating the principles by which cognitive neuroscience should—and should not—be embraced by courts and legislatures. He uses innovative empirical methods to explore how the effective use of neuroscientific evidence can enhance legal doctrine, and how the premature misuse of such evidence can be detrimental to justice. Shen is also co-authoring the first coursebook on law and neuroscience (forthcoming 2014, Aspen Publishers).

"Francis is already one of the country's leading scholars working at the convergence of neuroscience and law," said Dean David Wippman when Shen's award was announced. "The McKnight Land-Grant Professorship is a wonderful way to recognize and support his work."

The goal of the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship program is to strengthen the University for the future by recognizing and supporting its most promising junior faculty members—those who have the potential to make significant contributions to their departments and to their scholarly fields.