CFAES names 2020–2021 Distinguished Professors

Photo of Linda Lobao, Ahmed E. Yousef, and M. Susie Whittington

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has announced three faculty members as its 2020–2021 Distinguished Professors of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, recognizing the excellence of their work in the college’s three missions—teaching, research, and outreach and engagement—and the significant impact they have had in their fields.

They are:

“We congratulate these three faculty, all of whom exemplify our college’s purpose and mission,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES, during the annual CFAES Awards Program on Jan. 22. 

“In addition, we congratulate the numerous faculty, staff, and students who received awards this year—whether for teaching, research, or Extension, and whether the awards were local, within the university or state, or at the national and even international levels,” Kress said. “The impacts of your work are recognized and substantial.”

Linda Lobao: The scholarship of engagement

Lobao, who joined CFAES as an assistant professor in 1986, has made significant contributions to the sociology of agriculture, nonmetropolitan economic transitions, understanding historic patterns of social inequalities, and social geography. She is recognized as one of the very few widely influential sociologists working in the multidisciplinary areas of nonmetropolitan demographic, geographic, and economic transitions and agriculture and rural development policy. 

Lobao has been “practicing the scholarship of engagement her entire career,” said Tracy Kitchel, CFAES senior associate dean and director of faculty and staff affairs.

“Whether in the classroom, advising graduate students, or directly with rural and agricultural stakeholders, Dr. Lobao has brought the richness of sociological inquiry and her research to civil public discourse on often ‘wicked’ societal issues,” Kitchel said.

M. Susie Whittington: Beloved by students

Since joining ACEL in 2000, Whittington has taught a variety of courses in the agriscience education and community leadership majors—preparing students to become high school agricultural educators through teaching methods, cultural proficiency, and program planning—as well as graduate courses in data collection and in advanced teaching methods. She was the first woman to be named a fellow in her professional research society and is junior author of the nationally used textbook Methods of Teaching Agriculture.

In addition to her faculty role, Whittington serves as executive director of Ohio State’s Academic Enrichment office and Second-Year Transformational Experience Program, which is a university-wide, nationally recognized program focusing on student success and development. The program gives students opportunities to engage in high-impact practices that cater to their individual interests and needs. 

“Dr. Whittington is beloved by students and has been recognized with teaching awards throughout her career from professional organizations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said Mary Rodriguez, ACEL assistant professor and an officer on the CFAES Faculty Advisory Council.

Among those awards are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Award of Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the Teaching Award of Excellence from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. 

Ahmed E. Yousef: Safe, fresh food

Yousef joined CFAES as an assistant professor in 1991, and since then has been leading a search for natural alternatives to synthetic food preservatives. Among his achievements, he and his research team have developed new ways to pasteurize shell eggs and to decontaminate fresh produce while maintaining the foods’ fresh qualities. 

The method developed for shell eggs, for instance, uses a combination of mild heat and pressurized ozone for pasteurization, a process that can eliminate salmonella and other pathogens inside the eggs.

Ozone is key, too, to the method developed to decontaminate fresh produce, such as spinach and apples.

In his time at CFAES, Yousef has established the largest ozone research laboratory in the United States, and because of his food-safety expertise, he is frequently interviewed by the media on issues related to foodborne diseases and product recalls.

CFAES awards the Distinguished Professor title annually on a competitive basis. Nominations are evaluated by a committee of previous recipients, which recommends new recipients to Kress and her cabinet. The honor carries with it a permanent $2,500 addition to the recipients’ base pay and a $15,000 one-time grant to support their academic work.

Watch the CFAES Awards Program at and Kress’ State of the College Address that followed it at

CFAES News Team