Regents approve five Distinguished University Professors


Five faculty members have received one of the University of Michigan’s top honors as Distinguished University Professors.

The Board of Regents approved four appointments July 16. Nicholas Kotov’s appointment was approved Sept. 17. They are effective Sept. 1, last throughout the recipient’s period of active service at U-M and may be retained after retirement.

Distinguished University Professors are invited to give an inaugural lecture early in their appointment. The 2020 recipients are:

• Nicholas Kotov, Irving Langmuir Distinguished University Professor of Chemical Sciences and Engineering. He also is the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering, and professor of chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, and macromolecular science and engineering in the College of Engineering.

In his recommendation letter, Rackham Graduate School Dean Michael Solomon said, “Professor Kotov’s path-breaking understanding of chemical, physical, and mathematical rules of self- assembly have inspired researchers and industries around the world, and has enabled the development of new energy technologies, soft electronics, biomimetic membranes, biomedical implants, and ex-vivo drug discovery models. Numerous patents filed by major industrial corporations directly cite his work as driving a new age of innovation.”

• Arthur Lupia, Gerald R. Ford Distinguished University Professor of Political Science. He is also professor of political science, LSA.

“Professor Lupia has been hailed as one of the leading political scientists of his generation,” Solomon wrote. “He has contributed path-breaking and highly influential research in a wide variety of topics, including electoral behavior, public opinion, direct democracy, legislative organization, institutional design, policy implementation, and the impact of electronic media.”

• Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar, Ann L. Brown Distinguished University Professor of Education. She is also an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, the Jean and Charles R. Walgreen Jr. Professor of Reading and Literacy, and professor of education, School of Education.

“Professor Palincsar is a pre-eminent researcher and teacher educator whose seminal contributions include path-breaking work on effective literacy instruction and on student sensemaking and knowledge building, particularly in the context of project-based scientific inquiry,” Solomon wrote.

• Lutgarde M. Raskin, Vernon L. Snoeyink Distinguished University Professor of Environmental Engineering. She is also the Altarum/ERIM Russell D. O’Neal Professor of Engineering, associate dean for academic programs and initiatives, and professor of civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering.

“Professor Raskin’s work strives to use sustainable design approaches to understand and improve the engineered water cycle microbiome,” Solomon wrote. “She is a pioneer in the field of applied microbial ecology and has fundamentally shaped how microbial-ecology based research can be applied to solve problems in critical areas of pollution control, clean water, and renewable energy.”

• Donald R. Zak, Alexander H. Smith Distinguished University Professor of Ecology. He is also an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, the Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professor, and professor of natural resources, School for Environment and Sustainability; professor of environment, SEAS and LSA; and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, LSA.

“Professor Zak is one of the nation’s foremost ecologists, and the world leader in the study of soil microbial communities,” Solomon wrote. “He is in the vanguard of scientists bringing molecular biology and genomic approaches to understanding how soil microbial communities are influenced by anthropogenic change and the impact of these changes on terrestrial ecosystems.”

The Distinguished University Professorships were established in 1947 to recognize senior faculty with exceptional scholarly or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence and superior records of teaching, mentoring and service. Each professorship bears a name determined by the appointed professor in consultation with his or her dean.

(Editor’s note: This article has been changed from its original version to reflect the appointment of Nicholas Kotov.)


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