Five faculty named Distinguished or University Professor

Five Iowa State faculty members were awarded the title of Distinguished or University Professor this spring. They will be honored at a university awards ceremony on Sept. 21.

Distinguished Professor awards are given to full professors whose contributions to their academic disciplines are recognized nationally or internationally. University Professor awards are bestowed for exceptional contributions to the university. Following are this year's honorees -- two Distinguished Professors and three University Professors:

Dan Shechtman
Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering

Shechtman received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 1982 identification of a new type of material: quasicrystals. His revolutionary discovery changed scientists' understanding of how atoms arrange themselves in solids, which has impacted subsequent research and understanding not only in materials science but also chemistry and condensed matter physics. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Shechtman is a partial-year professor in the department of materials science and engineering and a research scientist in the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory.

Jonathan Wendel
Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences

Wendel's influence is in the field of plant evolutionary genetics. He is widely viewed as the world's leading authority on polyploidy -- genome doubling -- particularly how gene function changes in response to instances of gene duplication. He is at the top of his field in applying genomic technologies to questions in plant evolutionary biology. Wendel is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Wendel is a professor and chair in the department of ecology, evolution and organismal biology.

Steven Herrnstadt
University Professor

Herrnstadt has used his expertise to integrate art and design with digital technology, creating ever-changing opportunities for faculty, students and staff in the College of Design and beyond. For example, he and an undergraduate student created the first computer animation at ISU in the 1980s. He is a founding faculty member of the interdisciplinary graduate program in human computer interaction. He helped biology faculty create Meta!Blast, the educational video game with accurate 3D representations of cell parts, and he has an ongoing role in the biological and premedical illustration program to keep its digital illustration techniques up to date.

Herrnstadt is a professor of art and design.

Gordon Miller
University Professor

Miller has worked continuously to strengthen the chemistry curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students -- for example, creating a course, modifying another to be more useful to engineering students and putting in place a mechanism to introduce first-year students to research opportunities across campus. He also helped change the lab safety culture in his department both by adding curricular components to courses and developing and demonstrating new lab procedures for students, staff and faculty. As department chair (2002-05), Miller led the early feasibility planning for a new chemistry building that eventually became Hach Hall.

Miller is a professor of chemistry.

James Oliver
University Professor

Since becoming director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center in 2003, Oliver has expanded its research efforts from engineering-centric to university-wide; faculty collaborators represent every college. His efforts on the recent $5 million upgrade of VRAC's C6 facility helped make it the world's highest-resolution immersive virtual reality facility. Iowa State's human computer interaction graduate program, which he helped develop a decade ago, has become one of the largest and most prominent in the country and a model for interdisciplinary programs on campus.

Oliver is the Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Mechanical Engineering and also a professor in the departments of: industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; electrical and computer engineering; and aerospace engineering. He is the director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center and the graduate major in human computer interaction.

Criteria for the professorships

Through their research or creative activities, Distinguished Professors have significantly impacted or improved the quality of their disciplines. They also have demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one of the following: teaching and advising; extension/professional practice; or institutional service. The 2012 recipients receive a $6,500 addition to their base salaries.

Acting as change agents, University Professors have made significant contributions that improved the university. In addition, University Professors have demonstrated outstanding performance in at least one of the following: research and/or creative activities; teaching and advising; or extension/professional practice. The 2012 recipients receive a $6,000 addition to their base salaries.