MANHATTAN — Kansas State University has bestowed the highest faculty title ofuniversity distinguished professor upon five professors. The 2023 recipients of the lifetime honor areAllen Featherstone, professor and department head of agricultural economics;Ari Jumpponen, professor of biology;Jun Li, professor of chemistry;Jesse Nippert, professor of biology; andCaterina Scoglio, professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Drs. Featherstone, Jumpponen, Li, Nippert and Scoglio are all internationally recognized researchers in their fields who have distinguished themselves as teachers and mentors,” said Chuck Taber, executive vice president and university provost. “These faculty members are dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and service and will continue to support Kansas State University’s strategic plan to become a next-generation land-grant university.” University distinguished professors are appointed following a universitywide nomination and evaluation process conducted by the provost. The five faculty members receive a personalized plaque and medallion at the university’s fall 2023 commencement ceremonies. Featherstone is globally recognized as a leading expert in the field of agricultural finance and agriculture production economics. His research includes some of the most impactful areas in agricultural economics, including the influences of taxes on farmland, the probability of agricultural loan default and loan loss severity, groundwater allocation in irrigated crop production, management of corn yields and interactions of weather and soils. Awarded more than $7.1 million in research funding, Featherstone has published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, including the flagship American Journal of Agricultural Economics of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, the Journal of Econometrics, and the Review of Economics and Statistics, among other leading journals. His work has been reported in leading national publications and outlets. His agricultural policy and land-value work was cited by then-Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and then-President Clinton as rationale for farm program support to agriculture. An internationally recognized conference speaker and presenter, Featherstone has been honored by many professional organizations, including numerous honors from the Agricultural Finance and Management Section, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association; the 2003 Distinguished Faculty Award and the 1999 Outstanding Research Award from the K-State chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta; the Phi Kappa Phi Scholar Award; and the Gold Quill Award for Outstanding Journal article, Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. In 2005, he received K-State’s Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty award. Featherstone is active on university and college committees and has served on leading industry advisory boards and as a research journal associate editor. Instrumental in the development of the university’s innovative Master of Agribusiness program, Featherstone has been the director of the program since its inception in 1997. Featherstone earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and his master’s and doctorate in agricultural economics from Purdue University. A fungal ecology researcher, Jumpponen pioneered the use of high-throughput sequencing for the dissection, characterization and analyses of fungal communities in plant and soil samples. Currently, his research focuses on the effects of fire on soil and soil-dwelling organisms, which is important to understand as wildfire risks increase. Jumpponen has received $4.6 million in total research funding, including funds from National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA. He has also been recognized as being among the top 2% of researchers worldwide by Stanford University. The results of Jumpponen’s work have been published in 140 peer-reviewed scientific articles and more than a dozen book chapters with inclusion in the journals Nature, Science, Global Change Biology, Ecological Monographs, New Phytologist, Soil Biology, and Biochemistry and Molecular Ecology. He has also provided ad hoc manuscript reviews for more than 60 scientific journals and has served as an editorial board member for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Axios Reviews and Mycorrhiza. Jumpponen also provides scientific consulting services for the USDA Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies in Australia and within the private sector. Academically, Jumpponen has advised or co-advised 14 graduate students and nearly 50 undergraduates since he joined K-State in 2000. From 2011-2016, he served as principal investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded grant for an undergraduate training program, URM: Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in Ecological Genomics. He received the 2022 Division of Biology Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award. Jumpponen holds professional memberships in the North American Truffling Society, the Mycological Society of America and the Ecological Society of America. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Eastern Finland, formerly called the University of Joensuu, and a doctorate from Oregon State University. Li is a highly accomplished nanomaterials and nanotechnology expert known for developing novel electrochemical protease sensors for cancer diagnosis and hybrid materials built on nanotubes for lithium-ion batteries or electrocatalysts in fuel cells. Li’s current research focuses on energy conversion and storage, biosensor development, and nanomaterial growth and composite materials synthesis. Since joining K-State in 2007, Li has been awarded $8.35 million in research funding from industry, non-profit foundations and federal funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Li averages more than seven publications annually and throughout his career has produced 148 peer-reviewed journal articles, 25 conference papers, 23 book chapters and one co-edited book. Li also holds 13 U.S. patents, one Japanese patent, two international Protected Cooperation Treaty applications and one protected international World Intellectual Property Organization patent. Li teaches undergraduate chemistry courses and two interdisciplinary graduate nanotechnology classes that he developed. At K-state, he has served as an advisor for 19 graduate students, five postdoctoral fellows and eight visiting scholars while also supervising undergraduate students working in his lab. In 2018, Li was recognized for his excellence in the classroom with the Professorial Performance Award and the Segebrecht Award. He has been named a 2022 International Association of Advanced Materials fellow, 2021 Royal Society of Chemistry fellow and 2019 National Academy of Inventors fellow. Additional professional honors include the 2005 Nano 50 Innovator Award and the NASA Ames Honor Award in 2005. Li has served on numerous department and university committees and is active professionally as senior editor for the journal of IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology. He also serves on the editorial advisory board for 11 professional journals, helps to organize industry conferences and workshops and has participated in 55 review panels for federal funding agencies. Before joining K-State, Li worked at the NASA Ames Research Center, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, and Molecular Imaging Co. Li earned his undergraduate degree from Wuhan University and his master’s and doctorate degrees from Princeton University. Nippert is a transformative leader and researcher of grassland and savanna ecology, grass-to-tree ecological dynamics and response to climate change. His multifaceted research challenges long-held ideas of water use and drought survival in grasses, and it provides insights into the mechanisms underpinning competition for water between grasses and woody vegetation. He is also internationally recognized as an expert in the use of stable isotopes in ecological studies. With nearly $23 million in research funding, Nippert’s research has resulted in 110 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature Climate Change, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Ecology, Global Change Biology, Annals of Botany and Plant Ecology. Nippert is the principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded Long-Term Ecological Research program at the Konza Prairie Biological Station. Additionally, his research in South Africa on lowveld savanna ecology is funded by the National Science Foundation and the South African Environmental Observatory Network. A dedicated educator and mentor, Nippert secured funding from the National Science Foundation in 2016 to develop a national training program — Phys-Fest — to provide immersive workshops for plant ecology graduate and postdoctoral researchers about eco-physiological methods, instrumentation and science communication. Nippert was also instrumental in developing an interdisciplinary environmental sciences degree program that launched in fall 2021. He has served as a major advisor for one postdoctoral scholar, 15 graduate students and 16 undergraduate researchers. Nippert has been recognized for his professional excellence with the H. Henley Haymaker Teaching Excellence Award, the William L Stamey Teaching Award, the Karen Ann Griffith Research Award, K-State’s Biology Graduate Student Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award and a Big 12 Faculty Fellowship. He has also been an invited presenter and panelist at the AAAS Frontiers of Science. Nippert has an undergraduate degree from Kansas State University, a master’s degree from the University of Idaho and a doctorate from Colorado State University. Prior to returning to K-State as a faculty member in 2007, Nippert held post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Kansas and the Kansas Geological Survey. Scoglio is a high-impact expert in the field of network science and contact-network models for epidemic spreading. Her research team developed a generalized epidemic modeling software tool, which has been widely adopted by other researchers and applied to simulating the spread of many infectious diseases. Scoglio and her research group produced accurate predictions of the spread of COVID-19 in Wuhan City, China, and the 2019 Ebola cases in in Uganda. Scoglio has been awarded more than $15.5 million in research funding, including funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. Her research has led to 114 journal publications, 74 conference publications, six book chapters and 49 invited talks. Along with her transformative research, Scoglio is a proficient and dedicated educator and mentor to graduate students, and she serves as a role model to others in her profession. She has been an advisor to 42 graduate students. Scoglio’s robust mentoring is also substantiated by many of her students being selected for outstanding graduate student awards in the electrical and computer engineering departments. Scoglio earned her doctorate in engineering from Sapienza University of Rome. She joined K-State in 2005 and was named the LeRoy and Aileen Pasley Professor in 2016. K-State has recognized Scoglio’s work with several honors, including the Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, the Engineering Distinguished Researcher Award, the Frankenhoff Outstanding Research Award, the role of Steve Hsu Keystone research faculty scholar, the Professional Performance Award and the Research Proposal Teamwork Award.