OSU names Mix, Selker as distinguished professors

Oregon State University has named Alan Mix and John Selker as its 2017 Distinguished Professor recipients, the highest academic honor the university can bestow on a faculty member.

This honor will be permanent as long as the recipient remains at OSU.

“These two extraordinary scientists are helping people around the world to understand how our environment functions, now and at times in the distant past,” said Edward Feser, provost and executive vice president at OSU.

“John Selker has done groundbreaking work in environmental instrumentation, soil physics and hydrology, creating for that purpose innovative new applications in fiber optics,” Feser said. “His work to explain how water moves through soils and on surfaces relates to everything from modern agriculture to ecology, aquatic science, groundwater and the protection of our environment.

“Alan Mix has viewed the world not only as it is today, but as it used to be thousands of years ago. This helps us understand what forces were at work then and what that may mean for our future as the climate changes.  He has tied together prehistoric changes on land, sea, in ice and biota, from the tropics to the ice packs, and is one of the pioneers in studying ‘tipping points’ at which global change might accelerate.”

John Selker

John Selker

Selker, a professor in the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, has published more than 115 scientific papers that have been cited thousands of times. Selker received his doctorate in hydrology from Cornell University and has been on the OSU faculty since 1991. He has received multiple career awards in his field, is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and routinely involves undergraduate OSU students in his international research and training experiences.

Selker individually created new instruments and measurement devices that have helped revolutionize the field of hydrology. He recently organized a public/private initiative to improve instrumentation of weather in Africa, which could dramatically improve African agriculture, aid the study of global climate change and help address other needs in African sustainability and economic development.

mixMix, a professor in the OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, has generated 244 publications and more than 17,500 citations as one of the world’s leading paleoclimatologists. Findings in the geologic record about past climatic changes are a key to understanding the present, the forces now at work and what they may bring.

Mix has received more than $31 million in research funding through 89 grants, participated in 19 major global expeditions and for 20 years managed the OSU marine geology repository for sediment cores. In a male-dominated field, half of his graduate students have been women, international or underrepresented minority students.

Both professors will give public lectures on May 15 in the Horizon Room of the Memorial Union on topics in their area of research.

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