Distinguished University Professor

The Distinguished University Professor title is awarded permanently to no more than three exceptional faculty per year.
Photo image of Stuart L. Cooper

Stuart L. Cooper

Distinguished Professor of Engineering
William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
College of Engineering

Stuart Cooper is a formidable scientist, leader, teacher and mentor of world acclaim who has, in many ways, served as an inspiration to the fields of biomedical and biological engineering, noted a nominator. Known for his immense contributions to fundamental understanding and technological application, Cooper is a true pioneer in the biomaterials field, having broken vital new ground in understanding interactions of polymeric materials with physiological fluids and tissues.

In addition, Cooper is a consummate scientific mentor who is welcoming and supportive of all ideas and able to stimulate individuals to think creatively. His reputation as a teacher and mentor extends to his outstanding graduate students, for whom he has always been readily available, as well as to younger faculty and colleagues in the field. He mentored 62 PhD students, many of whom have succeeded at high levels. In 2018, he won the College of Engineering Faculty Mentoring Award celebrating these efforts. He served as chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from 2004 to 2014.

Cooper has won major national and international awards that derive not only from his brilliant work but his incredible service across a broad domain. His contributions were recognized at the highest level within the engineering profession when he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Other awards include Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Founders Award, Society for Biomaterials; Founding Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; International Award for Achievement in Biomaterials, Japanese Society for Biomaterials; Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award, American Chemical Society; Fellow, American Chemical Society, Polymer Division.

Photo image of Elena Irwin

Elena G. Irwin

Distinguished Professor of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Economics and Sustainability
Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
Faculty Director, Sustainability Institute

Elena Irwin’s research addresses the sustainability of human-natural systems at local and regional scales, focusing on land use and ecosystem services across urban and rural areas. She has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator on multiple research projects totaling over $19 million in funding, including funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the James S. McDonnell Foundation and other private and public sources.

In August 2021, she was appointed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator as an advisory member of the chartered Science Advisory Board as well as the Agricultural Science Committee. She is a Fellow and former executive board member of the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association, and in 2022 was selected as a Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, the association’s highest honor. She has served on multiple national research committees with the National Research Council and NSF, including as a member of NSF’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education Subcommittee on Sustainable Urban Systems.

As faculty director and co-founder of Ohio State’s Sustainability Institute, she provides leadership to interdisciplinary sustainability research and teaching across the university, including cultivating campus-wide collaborative research and curriculum development efforts.

Irwin’s mentorship of students includes an emphasis on interdisciplinary research for which she is well-known, along with a focus on inclusion in all aspects of the grant writing and publication process and an overall dedication to their success, noted a nominator. In 2015, she was honored with the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award.

Photo image of Stanley Lemeshow

Stanley Lemeshow

Division of Biostatistics
College of Public Health

Stanley Lemeshow is the founding dean of The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health. He also served as director of Ohio State’s Center for Biostatistics and the Biostatistics Core of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. His biostatistics research includes statistical modeling of medical data, sampling, health disparities and cancer prevention.

He has published extensively in the applied and methodological literature and has co-authored three textbooks.

Lemeshow maintains an ongoing relationship with Aarhus University, Denmark, as an Honorary Professor in Biostatistics and is a faculty member of the Erasmus Summer Program, Rotterdam, Holland. He has taught more than 100 short courses on biostatistical methods in this country and abroad, including eight European countries, Australia, China and India.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lemeshow was instrumental in three projects serving the state, noted a nominator. He was critical to the design of the state’s prevalence study in 2020, which helped the Ohio Department of Public Health and Office of the Governor understand the scope and scale of spread, giving a vital baseline for modeling. He worked with the Ohio Hospital Association to help predict required bed capacity. And he contributed to the wastewater surveillance team monitoring viral levels in catchment areas on campus and in other locales. His work immediately impacted policy and planning at a time of unprecedented need.

Other notable awards include Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow of the American Statistical Association; UCLA School of Public Health Alumni Hall of Fame; Lowell Reed Lecture, American Public Health Association; and the Wiley Lifetime Award.


The title Distinguished University Professor is a permanent honorific that includes automatic membership in the President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee. In addition, the Office of Academic Affairs designates a one-time cash award of $30,000 to be used for scholarly work. To date, 75 faculty members have now been awarded the Distinguished University Professor title.

This program has a rigorous selection process that begins each August. The Office of Academic Affairs sends a call for nominations to recommend faculty for this honor. Department chairs, school directors or faculty awards committees forward their nominations to their college deans. Deans develop a college review process, solicit support letters nationally and internationally and forward their final nomination decisions to our office.

Nominations                    Previous Winners