Three Faculty Members Named Distinguished University Professors

February 10, 2022 | News, UToday, Alumni, Arts and Letters, Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Christine Billau

Three faculty members were named Distinguished University Professors in recognition of their exemplary achievements in teaching, research, scholarship and professional service.

The newest faculty members with the honorary title, who were approved and recognized by the UToledo Board of Trustees Feb. 9, are:

•  Dr. G. Glenn Lipscomb, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering;

•  Dr. S. Thomas Megeath, professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and

•  Dr. Kim Nielsen, chair and professor of disability studies in the College of Arts and Letters.

“I am thrilled to introduce the 2022 class of Distinguished University Professors bestowed with our highest lifetime faculty honor,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Representing our University with excellence, these three outstanding professors have made a meaningful impact in their fields as leading experts in engineering, astronomy and disability studies.”


Lipscomb, a faculty member since 1994 focused on sustainability, is a member of UToledo’s Water Task Force. His research, funded by Ohio’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, has shown that commercially available home purification systems using reverse osmosis membrane science can remove algal bloom toxins from kitchen tap water.

An owner of six patents and an expert in biofuels production and membrane separation science and technology, Lipscomb’s research has been supported by millions of dollars in funding from federal agencies and private companies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Generon, Nissan, Asahi-Kasei and FilmTec.

Lipscomb has led efforts to engage students in projects to provide clean water to communities in need around the world. In 2015, he arranged the ongoing partnership between the University and the nonprofit organization Clean Water for the World for students to produce and install water treatment units that deliver up to 300 gallons per hour of clean water — enough water for a community of up to 600 people.

“I am so honored to receive this award,” Lipscomb said. “However, no one works alone. I have had the immense pleasure of working with and learning from the greatest students, staff, faculty, administrators and community members who share a common vision of making the world a better place for all.”


On Megeath’s quest to unravel the mysteries of star and planet formation, he is one of the first astronomers in the world to lead a research project on NASA’s newly launched James Webb Space Telescope. His project focuses on star nurseries within our own Milky Way galaxy for an unparalleled view of how individual stars are born.

Since Megeath joined UToledo in 2006, he has been awarded $4.2 million in competitive grants. Out of nearly 400 publications, some of his latest research challenges the model of how stars are born. He was recently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to travel to Chile to conduct research.

From 2016 to 2021 he served as a member of an elite NASA group focused on cosmic origins — the executive committee for NASA’s Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group. Last year he also served as chair for the stellar astronomy panel of the first James Webb Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee.

“It has been a real pleasure to build a research group at UToledo and to be part of our dynamic astronomy program,” Megeath said. “This could not have been done without the support of the University and my colleagues here in Toledo and those around the world. Most of all, I would like to thank the post-docs and students who are continually breaking new ground in our understanding of how stars form.”


Nielsen, who joined the faculty in 2012 and authored several books about Helen Keller, is an internationally acclaimed expert in disability history who has made significant contributions to disability studies, U.S. history and gender studies. Her work skillfully analyzes disability as lived experience and as a theoretical concept. She is best known for her use of disability as a vital analytical tool that she employs to explore the interconnected relationships between disability and race, class, age, sexuality and gender.

Nielsen’s research and scholarship has shaped the field of disability history in fundamental ways. Her book “A Disability History of the United States” reframes the story of U.S. history using disability as both a topic and category of analysis and is now widely read, taught and cited across the country.

In 2021, she was awarded the UToledo Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award and the Rosen Prize of the American Association for the History of Medicine for “The Oxford Handbook of Disability History,” a book she co-edited and to which she contributed a chapter about the perils and promises of disability biography.

“I am honored to be among this impressive group of scholars,” Nielsen said. “Even more so, I am privileged to be a member of UToledo’s Disability Studies program, enjoying my colleagues, learning from my students and representing UToledo to the international scholarly community.”

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