Inaugural Distinguished Professors of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences announced

Distinguished Professors of FAES

COLUMBUS—The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has announced four inaugural Distinguished Professors of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The title was bestowed on a competitive basis to four full professors who have excelled in teaching, research, or outreach/engagement. In addition, their work has significantly impacted their fields, students, college, university, and/or the public. 

The honorees include environmental economist Elena Irwin, plant pathologist Sally Miller, food scientist Devin Peterson, and chemical engineer Judit Puskas.

“The selection committee was extremely impressed with all of the nominees and their impactful contributions,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES.

Recipients will receive a permanent $2,500 addition to their base pay and be awarded a $15,000 one-time grant to support their academic work.

Irwin is a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) and the faculty director of the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State.

Since joining AEDE in 1998, Irwin has established an exceptional track record in research, teaching, mentorship, service, and leadership in the department, the college and the university. She is widely recognized as one of the leading environmental and regional economists in the world and has an impressive research portfolio that addresses important questions on urbanization and land-use change, sustainable urban systems, and modeling coupled human-natural systems. She has been pivotal in providing leadership to advance the sustainability mission of the college and Ohio State.

Miller is a professor in the Department Plant Pathology. She joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1991 with research, outreach, and teaching responsibilities in vegetable pathology.

Miller is globally recognized as a leader in the development and testing of plant disease diagnostic methods, the development of novel approaches for controlling vegetable diseases, ground-breaking delivery of Ohio State University Extension programs for vegetable growers, and capacity-building and integrated disease-management programs around the world that have bettered the lives of growers, especially women, in many developing countries.

Peterson is a professor in the Department Food Science and Technology. In 2010, while at the University of Minnesota, he launched the Flavor Research and Education Center (FREC) with eight companies. In 2016, Peterson joined CFAES, bringing with him the FREC enterprise and its membership, which has grown to 18 major industry partners. He also serves as program director for Ohio State’s Foods for Health Discovery Theme program.

Peterson is globally recognized for his pioneering work in flavor chemistry. His research is cutting-edge and has changed—and will continue to change—the quality of food enjoyed by consumers. A focus of his work is to support the development of highly palatable healthy foods, to promote consumption and health outcomes. His research results have been translated into practice through direct outreach to companies in the food industry through an industry-based center. 

Puskas is a professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE). She transitioned from industry to academia in 1996 at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Puskas came to CFAES in 2019 from The University of Akron, and has focused much of her recent efforts on attracting grant support and high-quality graduate students and post-doctoral scholars to her research program. She is also a Sustainability Institute core faculty member.

Puskas is internationally recognized for her outstanding accomplishments in biopolymer and biomaterial invention and green engineering implementation, in both industry and medicine. She is one of the co-inventors of the biocompatible polymer for the Taxus coronary stent, which has been implanted in over 6 million patients. She complements her research with extensive teaching and outreach, and brings globally recognized stature in her field to Ohio State.

The four inaugural Distinguished Professors will be honored at an awards ceremony during the CFAES State of the College address on Jan. 10, 10:45-11:45 a.m. at the Bob Evans Auditorium, Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, Columbus, Ohio.


Sherrie R. Whaley
For more information, contact: 

Cathann A. Kress