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University of Missouri Board of Curators names new Curators’ Distinguished Professors


Christian Basi

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri Board of Curators recently named 20 faculty members from across the UM System as Curators’ Distinguished Professors and Professors Emeritus. The classification is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators.

Michael Williams, chair of the UM Board of Curators, said the strength of the UM System’s academic institutions hinges on the expertise of its outstanding faculty.

“It is always an honor to recognize our faculty with the highest and most prestigious rank awarded by the Board,” he said. “Their dedication to the university’s missions of education, research, service and economic development is paramount as we work constantly to create a better society.”

“These are prestigious appointments reserved only for outstanding scholars and teachers that are internationally recognized for their contributions,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri. “Their work elevates our understanding of the world around us and educates the next generation of leaders.”

This year’s recipients are:

Curators’ Distinguished Professors

 University of Missouri-Columbia

Jianlin Jack Cheng

Jianlin “Jack” Cheng, William and Nancy Thompson Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering
Cheng is a leading expert of Artificial Intelligence and deep learning techniques to predict protein structure and function.

Blake Meyers

Blake Meyers, professor of plant sciences and technology in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR)
Meyers’s research focuses on plant molecular biology with an emphasis on RNA sequencing in plants.

Carsten Ullrich

Carsten Ullrich, professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Arts and Science
Ullrich’s research has advanced quantum dynamics and enabled a better understanding of quantum memory and dissipation effects.

Elizabeth Bryda

Elizabeth Bryda, professor of veterinary pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine
Bryda’s research takes a comparative medicine approach to study human disease through animal models, such as kidney disease, deafness and inflammatory bowel disease.

Eric Sandvol

Eric Sandvol, professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Science 
Sandvol is an outstanding researcher with an established reputation as both a theoretical and field seismologist.


ERica Lembke

Erica Lembke, associate dean for research and innovation and professor of special education in the College of Education and Human Development
Lembke’s research focuses on supporting teachers and students with or at risk for learning or other academic disabilities.

Patrick Westhoff

Patrick Westhoff, Howard Cowden Professor of Agriculture and Applied Economics in CAFNR 
Westhoff is the director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI-MU) and conducts research on agricultural markets and policymaking.

Xiu-Feng Henry Wan

Xiu-Feng “Henry” Wan, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology with appointments in the School of Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Engineering, and Bond Life Sciences Center principal investigator
Wan is an international leader in studies of influenza A and other pathogenic viruses used to develop vaccines and identify how viruses emerge and spread between humans and animals. He also serves as director of the NextGen Center for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Zhiqiang Hu

Zhiqiang Hu, William Andrew Davison Professor in the College of Engineering
Hu is an internationally recognized scholar for work on impact of nanosilver and other nanomaterials on environmental processes, helping the EPA in the development of commercial regulations.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Simon Friedman

Simon Friedman, professor of pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy
Friedman’s research includes development of strategies to inhibit important drug targets and control gene expression with light.

Clancy Martin

Clancy Martin, professor of philosophy in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Martin’s writing focuses on 19th century philosophy, existentialism, moral psychology and applied ethics.

Yong Wang

Yong Wang, professor of oral and craniofacial sciences in the School of Dentistry and director of the Musculoskeletal Structure/Property Core Center
Wang’s research focuses on biomaterials and their application in calcified tissues.

Missouri University of Science and Technology 

Baojun Bai

Baojun Bai, professor of geosciences and geological & petroleum engineering, and the Lester R. Birbeck Endowed Chair in Petroleum Engineering Program    
Bai has developed a particle gel for conformance control that has been used in over 10,000 wells and is now considered a standard industry practice.

Hagannathan Sarangapani

Jagannathan Sarangapani, William A. Rutledge – Emerson Electric Company Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering
Sarangapani’s research on neutral networks has led to major breakthroughs with applications for engine fuel efficiency that have been utilized by businesses like Caterpillar and Boeing.

University of Missouri-St. Louis

Susan Brownell

Susan Brownell, professor of anthropology
Brownell is an internationally recognized expert on Chinese sports, Olympic Games, and World’s Fairs, with a focus on the interplay between the body, sports, transnationalism and ritual.

Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Irina Ivliyeva

Irina Ivliyeva, professor of Russian in Department of Arts, Languages and Philosophy
Ivliyeva’s research and teaching focuses on Russian linguistics and language acquisition.

Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus

University of Missouri-Columbia

Jerry Atwood

Jerry Atwood, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Science
Atwood is a pioneer in supramolecular chemistry whose drug work has had medical applications for encapsulating drugs, sensors and molecular magnetism.

Marjorie Skubic

Marjorie Skubic, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and Robert H. Buescher Faculty Fellow in the College of Engineering
Skubic is an internationally recognized expert in non-invasive health monitoring and medical assessments for older adults.

University of Missouri-St. Louis

Robert Cottone

Robert Cottone, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Education Sciences and Professional Programs
Cottone’s research includes advanced theoretical issues and ethical and philosophical issues in counseling.

Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus

University of Missouri-Columbia

Thomas Phillips

Thomas Phillips, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor and professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences
Over the course of his career, Phillips has taught two senior capstone courses, an Honors cell biology course and a professional skills seminar course for rising juniors.


Reviewed 2023-09-20