Colorado State University Bestows Highest Honor of University Distinguished Professor on Three Professors

Colorado State University Interim President Tony Frank today presented the title of University Distinguished Professor – the highest recognition awarded for outstanding accomplishments in research and scholarship – on three professors at the annual "Celebrate Colorado State" event.

Collectively, these world-renowned professors have made great strides in diverse fields of science, but share a common goal to improve global health and environment issues. They have garnered more than $100 million in research grants, taught hundreds of students who now make contributions around the world, and have influenced scientific thought in their field. They are:

– Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, professor of Veterinary Medicine and director of Colorado State University’s Gail E. Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center

– Ian Orme, professor and researcher of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology and co-founder of the Colorado State University’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratory

– Diana Wall, professor of Biology and director of Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability

"The designation of University Distinguished Professor is the highest honor Colorado State University bestows to faculty," said CSU Interim President Tony Frank. "Professors Wall, McIlwraith, and Orme have all led pioneering research that has transformed their fields of study, and all three are known around the world as among the most distinctive, innovative and accomplished thinkers in their disciplines. Each has also contributed significantly to the quality of research and education at Colorado State, and this honor is a fitting tribute to the stature they’ve attained as scholars and faculty leaders."

Only 1 percent of CSU faculty are honored with the rank of University Distinguished Professor and it is a lifetime award which carries into retirement as an Emeritus Professor. To obtain the rank, faculty members are nominated through an extensive review process and must be approved by the current University Distinguished Professors.

Current Colorado State University Distinguished Professors include Barry Beaty, Patrick Brennan and Edward Hoover, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology; George Seidel, Department of Biomedical Sciences; Bernard E. Rollin, Department of Philosophy; Robert Williams, Department of Chemistry; Graeme Stephens and Thomas Vonder Haar, Department of Atmospheric Science; Gary Smith, Department of Animal Sciences; Stephen Withrow, Department of Clinical Sciences; Jan Leach, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management; Karolin Luger, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Jorge Rocca, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and John Sofos, Department of Animal Sciences.

"Drs. McIlwraith, Orme, and Wall are each outstanding members of our faculty and tremendous researchers," said CSU Interim Provost Rick Miranda. "It is an honor to name each of them as a University Distinguished Professor, and to have them as key leaders of our university, serving as an inspiration to other faculty and to our students."

About the honorees:

Dr. Wayne McIlwraith

McIlwraith is director of Colorado State University’s Gail E. Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center. The center, which is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, treats orthopedic injuries of the world’s finest horses and investigates orthopedic treatments and preventative medicine. Many of the innovations at the Equine Orthopaedic Research Center also can be applied to human medicine.

McIlwraith joined Colorado State in 1979 in the Department of Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as an equine surgeon with a research focus in orthopedics. Milestones include his appointment as director of the university’s equine sciences program in 1994, which accompanied a major expansion of the orthopedics research program. In 2001, he became the full-time director of the orthopedic research program. The program has helped make the university the world’s leading center for comparative orthopedic research.

McIlwraith’s history of accomplishment as a researcher, clinician and educator can be seen in his leadership and development of numerous programs at Colorado State including the musculoskeletal research program, a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence.

McIlwraith, who was born in New Zealand, also is a diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and diplomate, European College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Professor Ian Orme

Orme, a professor and researcher in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, is recognized globally for his contributions to the study of tuberculosis in an effort to find treatments for the disease. His work has generated significant insights into the disease, including into the development of vaccines and novel anti-tuberculosis drugs to augment a dwindling arsenal of medications available to treat the illness. His discoveries play a key role in providing a basis for new therapeutic approaches to treat tuberculosis, which worldwide, infects more than 2 billion people.

Orme’s laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences leads to the development and evaluation of new vaccines using a laboratory model. He was the first to identify rifabutin, which is now used to treat infectious in AIDS patients, and he has introduced new models to rapidly screen new TB drugs. Orme also has identified several new compounds currently being screened as potential treatments for tuberculosis.

Orme is a co-founder of the university’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratory, a unit that now includes more than 70 scientists. He is a past recipient of the university’s Scholarship Impact Award and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Innovative Teaching award.

Professor Diana Wall

Wall’s fascination with understanding how species interact in a changing world has led her to the study of ecosystems worldwide. Wall, an environmental scientist, is actively engaged in research exploring how abundant life in soil contributes to healthy, fertile and productive soil ecosystems and society. She studies how soils can be sustained for the future.

Wall has been at Colorado State University since 1993 and her research program integrates collaborative, multidisciplinary studies – starting from an organism through entire ecosystems – that ask and answer questions about their impacts at landscape and global scales. She is interested in understanding how soil biodiversity controls carbon cycling through decay and the processing of organic matter and how it affects soil fertility by mineralizing nutrients and making these available for plants. Her research includes global investigations from agriculture to arid grasslands and 18 seasons in the Antarctic Dry Valleys examining global change impacts on soil biodiversity and ecosystems.

Wall is involved in many national and international scientific activities, including serving on the U.S. National Commission of UNESCO. She served as president of the Ecological Society of America, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Society of Nematology, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers and other scientific organizations. Wall has an Honorary Doctorate from Utrecht University, The Netherlands and is an AAAS Fellow.