Purdue trustees approve distinguished professorships, endowed positions, posthumous degree, department name change

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday (Feb. 9) approved the appointments of four named and distinguished professors, awarded a posthumous degree and issued a resolution of appreciation for the institution’s top donors.

The board also voted to rename a department in the College of Agriculture to better reflect its mission and vision.

Douglas R. Schmitt
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Douglas R. Schmitt was named the Stephen and Karen Brand Chair, Qingyan (Yan) Chen was named the James G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Michele Forman was appointed Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Science, and Laura Pyrak-Nolte as Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy.

Schmitt recently joined Purdue and was previously a professor of geophysics and physics and director of the Institute of Geophysical Research at the University of Alberta. He is a leading researcher in energy resources, including more than 27 years of experience in rock physics and involvement in deep-drilling projects on every continent except South America.

Qingyan (Yan) Chen
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Chen had been the Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering the last three years. His current research topics include indoor environment; aircraft cabin environment; and energy-efficient, healthy and sustainable building design and analysis. He has published two books and over 380 journal and conference papers, and has been invited to deliver more than 140 lectures internationally.

Michele Forman
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Forman is head of the Department of Nutrition Science, a position she has held for more than a year. Her career focuses on nutritional epidemiology and clinical nutrition research across the globe with an emphasis on early life exposures and risk for chronic disease, as well as the role of nutrition in growth and health across lifespans. She has over 180 peer-reviewed publications; numerous invited presentations nationally and internationally; and serves on many institutional committees, advisory boards and study sections.

Laura Pyrak-Nolte
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Pyrak-Nolte is recognized as the world’s leading expert on the acoustic, mechanical and transport characteristics of porous and fractured media. Her research has led to novel ways to reveal how seismic waves can be utilized to characterize fractured rock masses and how the fractured medium affects the propagation of seismic waves.

Trustees also voted to change the name of the Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education to Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication. The new name better reflects the nature and focus of the department’s education and communications learning, discovery, and engagement programs.

Ethan P. Brown, of Warsaw, Indiana, was posthumously awarded an associate degree through the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and the School of Engineering Technology.

Trustees also approved a resolution of appreciation for those who recently have contributed $1 million or more to the university. Friends include Walther Cancer Foundation, to support the Purdue Center for Cancer Research; Warren and Nancy Huntzinger, to support the College of Agriculture and College of Health and Human Sciences; Bob and Amy Martin, to support Intercollegiate Athletics; Don Newsom, to support the School of Engineering Education; Rick and Anne Borch, to support the College of Pharmacy; Michael Seretny, to support the College of Education, Intercollegiate Athletics and Purdue Convocations; Leslie Bottorff and Celeste Bottorff, to support the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering; Brian and Tina Grigsby, to support Intercollegiate Athletics; anonymous, to support the College of Veterinary Medicine; and anonymous, to support Purdue University Northwest. 

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