Two UC Santa Cruz professors have won UC President's Research Fellowships in the Humanities.

Noriko Aso, assistant professor of history, and John Bowin, assistant professor of philosophy, are among 15 fellows selected for 2008-2009.

"Only 15 presidential fellowships are awarded each year. That two of them went to UCSC professors is great news," Chancellor George Blumenthal said.

Humanities Dean Georges Van Den Abbeele, a past chair of the review committee, said the competition is fierce "with the winners being not simply great applications but those very few grant projects to which one simply cannot say no.

"It is exceedingly rare for any campus to receive more than one of these awards in any given year," Van Den Abbeele said. "That both Professors Aso and Bowin emerged as winners is testament indeed to the outstanding excellence of their work and the bright future of the campus they call home."

Aso first joined the UCSC faculty in 1998 as a lecturer. Her project looks at how the establishment of a national museum system in late 19th and early 20th century Japan shaped and was shaped by new notions of the "public," which Aso sees not as an unchanging and already constituted entity, but a social category under negotiation.

Bowin, who joined the UCSC faculty in 2005, plans to analyze Aristotle's solutions to certain metaphysical puzzles related to change, persistence, modality, and time, and then survey the solutions offered by Aristotle's successors in the Hellenistic period (323-31 BC) and the late ancient period (200-600 AD).

The President's Research Fellowships are intended to increase research support to individual faculty members in the humanities. Each fellowship provides funding up to $25,000.