University Awards & Recognition

Distinguished Scholar Award

Alumni and other friends of The Ohio State University are a passionate lot. They remember their Ohio State ties, serving as ambassadors of the university around the world.

But a handful of alumni, retired faculty and administrators, and friends who have forged connections with the university truly stand out. It is for this outstanding group that university trustees established the Distinguished Service Award in 1952.

We are pleased to announce the following winners.



Leonard J. Brillson

Professor and Center for Materials Research Scholar
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Physics

Leonard J. Brillson

Leonard Brillson is one of the world’s foremost scholars in the field of electronic material surfaces and interfaces. His contributions have led to an understanding of the fundamental importance of atomic scale chemical bonding, metallurgical reactions and crystalline defects at interfaces, and their effects on the electrical contact properties of semiconductors — the building blocks that drive computers, lasers, displays and cellphones. His interdisciplinary research spans physics, materials science, electrical engineering and vacuum technology. His work has created a new framework for designing the contacts inside all electronics, impacting the choices of contact metals, semiconductor growth methods, the “reactive” vs “unreactive” nature of their interfaces and the use of “interlayers” to control interface chemistry and next generation electronic devices.

One of his colleagues stated, “Major areas of the surface research in electronic materials — fundamentals of surface and near-surface defects, semiconductor/metal contacts, interfacial diffusion, surface relaxation and reconstruction — would be much paler without Leonard Brillson’s illustrious and massive input. Starting with his pioneering work on metal-induced surface states, his seminal contributions to the development of surface photovoltage into a standard and ubiquitous experiential probe, through numerous other milestones and all the way to the complex nanoscale devices studied by Len and associates today, Brillson’s scholarly achievements have been truly exceptional.”

Brillson has authored or co-authored over 350 journal articles and four books. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Materials Research Society and the American Institute of Physics.

He received his AB from Princeton University and his MS and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Ohio State in 1996.

Laura M. Justice

Education and Human Ecology Distinguished Professor
Department of Educational Studies

Laura M. Justice

Laura Justice is one of the most renowned researchers in the field of early language and literacy development in children with and without disabilities. She is the recipient of a highly-competitive grant from the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences’ Reading for Understanding initiative to improve how reading for understanding is taught and acquired across grades PK-12. Her Language and Reading Research Consortium enrolled more than 3,500 students from 660 classrooms, including parents and teachers, with an additional 500 children and 75 teachers enrolled for the English Language Learner study. Justice also leads the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at Ohio State, which provides research opportunities for students and collaborative opportunities for faculty.

One colleague stated, “I know of very few scholars who so thoroughly and creatively incorporate the latest findings and methods in developmental science into field-based studies of early learning and classroom process. Her pursuit of knowledge that has both strong contributions to theory and that she so effectively translates into practices that foster children’s learning and development is without peer.”

Justice has received the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE), the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology Editor’s Award, the Early Career Publication Award from the Division of Research, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Erskine Fellowship from the University of Canterbury. She has received over $50 million in federal funding to support her research. Her publications appear in prestigious journals including the Journal of Educational Psychology, Psychological Science, the Journal of School Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Exceptional Children, the Journal of Learning Disabilities, the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Child Development, Clinical Pediatrics, Behavior Genetics, the Journal of Applied Measurement, Teaching and Teacher Education.

She received her MS and PhD from Ohio University. She joined Ohio State in 2007.

Michael V. Knopp

The Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation Chair for Clinical Research
Department of Radiology

Michael V. Knopp

Michael Knopp is recognized as a worldwide expert in the field of radiology and biomedical imaging. His work focuses on development of new imaging technologies, with a strong emphasis on oncologic, neuro and cardiovascular applications. His research efforts have included all components of imaging related endeavors, from imaging sequence development, to contrast agents, to image analysis and visualization, to regulatory and statistical issues. Through his work, Knopp has built a strong and impactful multidisciplinary program in biomedical imaging for research, innovation and human and animal patient diagnostic imaging and care. His contributions in biomedical imaging throughout the university, across the state and around the world led to the establishment of the Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging, a world renowned imaging research facility that has helped develop and commercialize new technologies.

A colleague stated, “Michael is internationally renowned for his ability to develop and apply sophisticated and novel imaging techniques that facilitate the decision-making needed for the very best patient care. This is especially the case in his work that seeks to quantify oncologic processes with imaging technology and is best represented in his dynamic contrast imaging work. Here, he has created both acquisition and analytic strategies that are in broad use across the globe.”

Knopp has published more than 275 peer-reviewed manuscripts in high quality journals such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, American Journal of Neuroradiology and Investigative Radiology, and has received over $100 million in competitive, peer reviewed external funding.

He received both his MD and PhD from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He joined Ohio State in 2001.

William S. Marras

The Honda Chair in Transportation
Professor in Integrated Systems Engineering
Department of Integrated Systems Engineering

William S. Marras

William Marras is a leader in the field of occupational biomechanics. His greatest contributions include a patented system that allows researchers and safety professionals to quantitatively assess the risk of back injury to workers who perform material handling jobs and a sophisticated computational model of the human spine. This model allows spinal surgeons to visualize how specific pathologies are dependent on the dynamic loads that must be tolerated by various tissues. Marras formed the interdisciplinary Spine Research Institute in 2015 to systematically improve the prevention, evaluation and treatment of spine disorders through the identification of disorder causal pathways.

Said one of his colleagues, “I can state without any reservation, there is nobody in the field of ergonomics and human factors today who is more visionary, distinguished, accomplished or better recognized for their innumerable contributions to the science, education and practice of occupational biomechanics than Bill Marras — nobody.”

Marras has secured more than $31 million in research funding while at Ohio State. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has received the Volvo Award for Low Back Pain Research and the Vienna Award for Outstanding Research in Physical Medicine. He is the executive director of the Center for Occupational Health in Automotive Manufacturing and the Institute for Ergonomics, and president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He has published more than 290 peer-reviewed articles in esteemed journals, including The Spine Journal, Clinical Biomechanics and Human Factors.

Marras received his MSIE and PhD from Wayne State University. He joined Ohio State in 1982.

Marc H. Pinsonneault

Department of Astronomy

Marc H. Pinsonneault

Marc Pinsonneault is one of the most accomplished stellar astrophysicists in the world. His research focuses on theoretical models of stellar structure and evolution, with an emphasis on stellar rotation, helio- and asteroseismology and solar neutrinos. His work has shown that rotation of stars drives flows of material and energy within them as they age, affecting their lifetimes and the chemical elements visible at their surfaces. These effects play important roles in understanding observed populations of stars and in testing the physics of the Big Bang. He has forged a collaboration between scientists measuring elemental abundances of stars and scientists measuring stellar vibrations with NASA’s Kepler satellite. The combination of these measurements provides a new way to reach behind the opaque surfaces of stars and reveal the physics of their interiors. It also allows accurate measurements of stellar ages, which are being used to decode the history of the Milky Way Galaxy. The sophisticated computational models of the Sun that he developed have led to the recognition that neutrinos have mass and change identity, discoveries that have had profound impact on physicists’ understanding of fundamental particles and forces.

One colleague stated, “He has made extremely significant, world-leading breakthroughs in stellar astrophysics. And he has also shown vision in realizing how new observing capabilities can be used to tackle important astrophysical problems, and has then provided the leadership to realize those new opportunities.”

Pinsonneault is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has chaired the selection committee for NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowships, the most prestigious national fellowships in astronomy. He currently serves on the selection committee for the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, the most distinguished career achievement award of the AAS. He has over 275 publications in prestigious journals including The Astrophysical Journal, The Astronomical Journal and the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Pinsonneault earned his BS from the University of Texas at Austin and his PhD from Yale University. He joined Ohio State in 1994.

Claudia Turro

Dow Professorship in Chemistry
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Claudia Turro

Claudia Turro is a pioneer in the design of new molecules that can be activated with light for uses ranging from medical therapy and diagnostics to sustainable energy and the environment. She has discovered new compounds that not only kill cancer cells, but also inhibit tumor metastasis and turn on a beacon to signal where the cancer is located. These compounds, activated by low-light energy, can be modified to deliver inhibitors to target uncontrolled growth and cell proliferation, and can be tailored to specific types of cancer. Turro uses state-of-the-art ultrafast spectroscopy to understand the fundamental processes that take place after a metal-containing molecule absorbs light, which has led to the design of new molecules that, when exposed to light, could exhibit two (or more) outputs simultaneously – thereby creating the first "drug cocktail" or "dual-action" metal-containing drugs. And she has discovered new materials that can efficiently generate hydrogen, a clean fuel, from water.

According to one colleague, “Professor Turro’s contributions to the understanding of photoinduced processes of inorganic complexes is crucial to the fields of solar energy conversion, sensors and photochemotherapy. She is a compelling role model for all aspiring scientists.”

Turro is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. She won the 2014 Inter-American Photochemical Society Award in Photochemistry, the most prestigious national award in the field of photochemistry. She is also a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Beckman Young Investigator Award. She has published 144 articles in high impact journals.

She received her BS and PhD from Michigan State University. She came to Ohio State in 1996.