Published: June 27, 2003


Contact: Kristin Anderson, University Relations, (517) 353-8819, or


EAST LANSING, Mich. - Ten Michigan State University professors have been named University Distinguished Professors in recognition of their achievements in the classroom, laboratory and community.

The designations, recommended by Interim President Lou Anna K. Simon, were approved today by the MSU Board of Trustees.

This is among the highest honors that can be bestowed on a faculty member by the university. Those selected for the title have been recognized nationally and usually internationally for the importance of their teaching, research and public service achievements.

Individuals holding the professorship will receive, in addition to their salary, a stipend of $5,000 per year for five years to support professional activities.

The newly named University Distinguished Professors are:

  • Howard A. Brody, Department of Family Practice and Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, College of Human Medicine, and Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Letters. Brody is a board-certified family physician with a special interest in medical ethics and issues relating to personal health issues and health policy concerns.

  • Marilyn Frye, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Letters. Frye, a pre-eminent feminist philosopher, is recognized for her work in feminist theory, philosophy and the philosophy of language in addressing pressing social issues of the day. She has set an example for scholars in the humanities and the arts who are committed to progressive social change.

  • Jack R Harkema, Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine. Harkema's primary research interests are in the understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms related to airway cell injury and repair. He is the co-director of the Collaborative Air Research Effort (CARE), a project that seeks to identify air pollutants and their health effects.

  • Hassan K. Khalil, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering. Much of Khalil's work focuses on nonlinear systems and control, and his work on stabilization of nonlinear systems exhibits mastery of sophisticated mathematical techniques and fundamental engineering issues. Much of his writing on singular perturbations is considered the standard for reference.

  • John B. Ohlrogge, Department of Plant Biology, College of Natural Science; College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. His research focuses on lipid metabolism in plants and has provided many key insights into the biochemical mechanisms that regulate plant fatty acid metabolism. He and his students apply this knowledge to produce novel plants with improved nutritional qualities or useful commercial traits.

  • Dennis R. Preston, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages, College of Arts and Letters. Preston is recognized for his work in language variation, folk linguistics, language attitude and second-language acquisition. He also is noted for his ability to express the results of his linguistic research in terms that capture the attention of specialists and laypeople alike.

  • Bradley M. Sherrill, Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Natural Science; and National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. Sherrill studies the nuclear reactions that take place in various astrophysical environments. He investigates radioactive nuclei that play a key role in supernovae explosions, with the goal of better understanding nuclear physics' contributions to cataclysmic events.

  • Terrie E. Taylor, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Osteopathic Medicine. Taylor's work has contributed to a better understanding of malaria. She coordinates an international team of scientists that gather each year in Malawi to study the effects of the disease on humans, particularly among children.

  • Michael F. Thomashow, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station; and MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, College of Natural Science. He is recognized for his development of genetic tools that transform plants and discoveries of genes important to cold tolerance in plants.

  • Gary D. Westfall, Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Natural Science; and National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. His work spans the entire field of heavy ion physics. His discovery of the disappearance of flow has been one of the most significant research results to emerge from the Cyclotron Laboratory, leading to new insight into the nuclear equation of state.

These 10 individuals bring to 84 the number of faculty members who have been named a University Distinguished Professor since the designation was established by the university and approved by the MSU Board of Trustees in 1989.