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University Distinguished Scholar Awards

The Distinguished Scholar Award, established in 1978, recognizes exceptional scholarly accomplishments by senior professors who have compiled a substantial body of research, as well as the work of younger faculty members who have demonstrated great scholarly potential. The award is supported by the Office of Research with honoraria provided by The Ohio State University Foundation. Recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including several past recipients of the award. Distinguished Scholars receive a $3,000 honorarium and a research grant of $20,000 to be used over the next three years.

Recognizing Excellence at Ohio State

Current University Awards winners

Previous University Awards winners

Click on photo or scroll down the page to read winner's bio.

Paul A. Beck
Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science

As one of the nation's leading experts on citizen political behavior and political parties, Paul A. Beck has helped shape the discipline of political science through his research. Best known for his research on the sources of political party loyalties, his scholarship has established him as a nationally and internationally known scholar, and he is frequently a commentator on politics for the media. His research theorizes that the transmission from parents to children of party loyalties weakens with the passage of time, a principle known as the "socialization theory." In addition to his research, Beck goes beyond his duties as chair of the political science department by reading and commenting on scholarly work of his junior colleagues. He also is involved in advising colleagues, mentoring junior faculty, and training graduate students. He is heavily cited with more than 500 citations in the last two decades — a very large number for a political scientist. Beck received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, became a member of Ohio State's political science department in 1987, and was appointed chair in 1991. In 2000, he won the university's Distinguished Faculty Service Award.

Tina M. Henkin
Department of Microbiology

When a research scientist's results are new and unexpected yet so convincing, it can be shocking. Tina M. Henkin's discoveries with ribonucleic acid molecules (RNAs) established entirely new concepts in the molecular biology of gene regulation in bacteria. Her research identified three previously unrecognized and unprecedented mechanisms by which RNAs regulate gene expression, forcing new paradigms in molecular biology and identifying novel targets for antibiotic treatment of bacterial infections. Henkin's contributions have made her a widely sought speaker to give research reports at academic, government, and corporate research institutions and at international symposia. She also writes review articles and serves on research journal editorial boards and federal grant panels. Her impact on the university also has been important; Henkin leads by example as a faculty member who combines excellence in teaching and research, and as a staunch advocate and participant in professional service, mentoring, and the building and maintenance of the university's infrastructure. An elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Henkin joined the Ohio State microbiology staff in 1995 and holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Wisconsin.

Philip R. Johnson
Professor and Vice Chair for Research
Department of Pediatrics

An internationally recognized expert in HIV vaccine development and gene transfer technology, Philip R. Johnson joined the Ohio State faculty in 1991. His discoveries leading to the development of an HIV vaccine and his work with gene therapy for pediatric diseases have the potential to make an impact on humanity, earning him an international reputation as an expert scientist and scholar. Known as a critical thinker, Johnson pushes his colleagues to work outside the box and to focus on quality scholarly publications rather than the quantity of them. His own writings number more than 100 peer-reviewed research publications, which place him among the elite of biomedical research scholars. Not only has he been prolific in his contribution to scientific knowledge, he has also established successful nonprofit and private collaborative relationships among the university, private industry, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, bringing Ohio State into the forefront of AIDS vaccine research. He has served as a role model, mentor, and guide to colleagues and students at various levels, as well as someone who has nurtured several other outstanding scientists. Johnson received his doctor of medicine from the University of North Carolina and completed his pediatric residency and infectious diseases fellowship training at Vanderbilt.

Michael D. Lairmore
Professor and Chair
Department of Veterinary Biosciences

Considered by his peers to be one of the premier rising stars of veterinary science, Michael D. Lairmore's body of work in the study of human retroviruses and his interdisciplinary cancer research have already established him as a preeminent scholar and leader in his field. He is uniquely trained in molecular virology and veterinary pathology, and he is the only member of the university to earn Diplomate status in both the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists. Lairmore has a special ability to create collaborative relationships among diverse groups of faculty, illuminating the critical nature of an issue, bridging divisions between opposing parties, and fostering unified decisions. This was clearly demonstrated when he coordinated a collaboration among faculty — who work in retrovirology, molecular biology, and endocrinology — into an interdisciplinary research unit that was funded with a National Cancer Institute grant of $9.8 million. He is not only an outstanding scientist and researcher, but also a role model in professional veterinary and graduate education. In his position as mentor, Lairmore invests a great deal of himself in his students and believes it is through their success that he is best reflected. Lairmore received his D.V.M. from the University of Missouri.

James Phelan
Department of English

When James Phelan received his Ph.D. in 1977, the study of narrative as a genre was a minor branch of literary studies. Today, the field of narrative studies is flourishing largely because of his efforts. Of the three main lines of research in narrative theory, Phelan is widely acknowledged to be the most eminent scholar working in the rhetorical mode, but he also incorporates insights from the other two lines of research, traditional narratology and contextualist theory. He is the founding editor of Narrative, the field's premier journal, and the coeditor of the field's most important book series, The Theory and Interpretation of Narrative, which has produced 20 titles. The profession of English Studies and pedagogy also has been part of Phelan's studies with publications concerning both topics. Phelan served as the department chair of English for eight years, helping to improve Ohio State's program reputation dramatically. Under his leadership, the department won the Departmental Teaching Excellence Award, an Eminent Scholar position, and a Selective Investment Award. Phelan earned his doctorate in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago and joined Ohio State's faculty in 1977.

Neil Tennant
Department of Philosophy

Ohio State's Neil Tennant is considered to be one of the world's preeminent logicians, particularly in his specialty areas of formal logic and philosophy of language. In his best-known work, The Taming of the True, he developed a fully detailed account of how to make good sense of natural science within an anti-realist framework, making original and powerful contributions through rigorous and intelligent arguments. The journals in which he publishes are among the most prestigious and selective in logic philosophy, with most having an acceptance rate of only five to 10 percent. He has published five books, 61 articles in refereed journals, and 23 articles in anthologies and other collections. Not only is the body of his work impressive, but he also serves on the editorial boards of five major journals, which makes him increasingly in demand at international conferences. Recently, Tennant received acclaim for his willingness to branch out into a new field that intersects epistemology and philosophy of science. Many believe his presence in the Department of Philosophy has contributed to its 11th-place ranking among all public universities in North America. Tennant received his doctorate from the Wolfson College at the University of Cambridge.

2004 University Distinguished Scholar Awards


Previous winners

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