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Three Distinguished University Professors named

Three scholars have been added to the rank of Distinguished University Professor in recognition of their career achievements in teaching, research and professional service.

The faculty members named Distinguished University Professor were approved and recognized by the UToledo Board of Trustees at its April meeting. They are Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and executive vice president for clinical affairs; Dr. Ashok Kumar, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Dr. Celia Williamson, professor of social work and executive director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.

Distinguished University Professors named this month were, from left, Dr. Celia Williamson, Dr. Christopher Cooper and Dr. Ashok Kumar.

“It is our privilege to recognize these individuals with The University of Toledo’s highest permanent honor bestowed upon a faculty member,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Each of these professors is recognized as an outstanding teacher, researcher and professional who has made a great impact on the students who they have mentored and in advancing their fields of study.”

Cooper is an internationally recognized researcher in reno-vascular hypertension and ischemic renal disease. He was the principal investigator on a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in which the team found that stents provided no additional benefits to patients with kidney-related high blood pressure than medication alone, which could lead to fewer surgeries and lower treatment costs. The results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Cooper joined the faculty of the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, then the Medical College of Ohio, in 1994. Throughout his career, he has secured more than $25 million in external research funding and authored or co-authored 96 peer-reviewed articles and nine book chapters.

“As a University of Toledo faculty member, I have been blessed with a number of fantastic mentors, collaborators and trainees, and together we’ve done some exciting things,” Cooper said. “Now my major focus is to create an environment where others can do that, too.”

Cooper is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, Fellow of the American Heart Association and Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Kumar is recognized internationally for the development of innovative software and paradigm-shifting methodologies related to air quality and risk assessment to solve complex environmental problems. With a focus on air pollution, Kumar has advanced the understanding of the air quality impact due to public transportation buses running on biodiesel and issues with radon mitigation systems in Ohio.

Kumar, who has been a member of the UToledo College of Engineering faculty since 1980, has received more than $5.5 million in external funding, and authored or co-authored more than 200 articles and eight books.

“I am proud to be recognized as a Distinguished Professor of the finest university in the area,” Kumar said. “Very few things in life are entirely the work of one individual. This recognition is no exception. This achievement is thanks to a lot of other people’s hard work. Everyone, from the graduate students to funding agencies to fellow professionals and publishers, deserves credit for recognizing my efforts in the field of air pollution.”

Kumar also has received UToledo’s President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to University Scholarship and Creative Activity. He is an honorary member of the Air & Waste Management Association.

Williamson’s pioneering research on human sex trafficking, the prostitution of women and children globally, and mental health and substance abuse counseling needs for vulnerable populations is recognized internationally.

She founded the International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference, which has welcomed to campus thousands of academics and activists from around the world for the past 15 years to end abuse through education, research and advocacy.

Williamson also is the founder of the Second Chance Program, now called RISE, which is the first anti-trafficking program in Ohio, as well as the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, the National Research Consortium on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and the Global Association of Human Trafficking Scholars.

“I am both thankful and grateful for this recognition, and I will continue the important anti-trafficking work that needs to be done in our community and around the world,” Williamson said.

She has been a faculty member in the UToledo College of Health and Human Services since 2000 and has received more than $2 million in external funding, and published two co-authored books, two book chapters and 21 peer-reviewed articles.

Also an alumna of UToledo, Williamson has received the University’s Gold T Award and the Edith Rathbun Outreach and Engagement Excellence Award.

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