Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, May 13, 2022

Fletcher and Nemet awarded Vilas honors

Left: Jason Fletcher; Right: Gregory Nemet Left: Jason Fletcher; Right: Gregory Nemet

La Follette School Professors Jason Fletcher and Gregory Nemet are recipients of prestigious Vilas Awards, acknowledging their groundbreaking research, service to the UW community, and teaching.  

Fletcher, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology, was awarded a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship, an honor that provides five years of research funding. He studies the intersection of health, education, public policy, and genetics and has published widely in top-ranked journals in public policy, political science, sociology, labor economics, public health, and demography, as well as highly visible cross-disciplinary journals, such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He is director of the UW–Madison Center for Demography of Health and Aging.

Fletcher’s research has influenced a wide range of other policy scholars, and his productivity (over 20 papers in 2021 alone) seems to know no bounds. Taking an interdisciplinary focus, he recently formed a research training group of graduate students, which serves to cross-train scholars among disciplines using a project-based work environment.

He plans to use the Vilas Award to continue two streams of his current research. In his leadership role at the UW–Madison Initiative on Social Genomics, he will continue to work on integrating biological/genetic and social science methods, data, and theories to provide more complete understandings of health processes in the U.S. Fletcher will also continue work on projects that trace links between childhood conditions—such as disease exposure, pollution, and economic disadvantage—and later-life health, cognition, and mortality in Wisconsin and the nation. 

Gregory Nemet received a Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award, which provides three years of research funding. He is one of the world’s leading scholars on solar technology and greenhouse gas reduction, and ways to foster innovation in clean energy. He is a lead author of the latest climate report released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will serve as the starting point for discussions at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in November. Nemet’s research continues to influence public policy and he is regularly called upon to share his expertise, including recently by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

As a teacher, Nemet focuses on training students to be critical analysts, able to understand the context of policy decisions. In 2016, the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education awarded him the Higher Education Energy Educator of the Year. 

“The Vilas Award will help support my research on how policy can stimulate innovation to address climate change,” explains Nemet. “La Follette students have played important roles in this research, and I am looking forward to working with them over the coming years.” 

The Vilas Awards are funded by the William F. Vilas Estate Trust.