CORVALLIS - A leading historian on western America and a widely recognized expert in the reproductive biology of agricultural animals will be honored with top faculty awards by Oregon State University.

William Robbins, a professor of history, and Fredrick Stormshak, a professor of animal sciences, have been named "Distinguished Professors" by the university. They will carry that title - the highest Oregon State bestows upon its faculty - as long as they remain at OSU.

"These two scholars really characterize what Oregon State University is all about," said Roy Arnold, provost and executive vice president of OSU. "Though they work in very diverse fields, each is highly respected by colleagues all over the country, they are well-liked and sought out by students, and they make a significant contribution to the people of the Pacific Northwest."

Robbins, who has been on the OSU faculty since 1971, conducts research on the history of the western United States, focusing on the physical and social transformations caused by economic development and technological advancements. Among his studies, he has written on the Pacific Northwest timber industry and the upheaval caused by economic changes to Coos Bay, Ore., a resource-dependent community.

His most recent book, "Colony and Empire," has been called one of the most important contemporary books on western history. It looks at how the western environment was transformed by economic development and technology, from railroads to chainsaws.

Robbins, who also is the associate dean of OSU's College of Liberal Arts, has written or edited seven books and dozens of professional articles. His latest book, "Landscapes of Promise: The Oregon Story, 1800-1940," will be published this year by the University of Washington Press.

A 1962 graduate of Western Connecticut State College, Robbins earned his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon.

Stormshak is a prominent researcher and teacher of reproductive endocrinology in OSU's Department of Animal Sciences. A member of the OSU faculty since 1968, his work is particularly valuable, colleagues say, because he studies a diversity of species.

Focusing on basic research, Stormshak has helped scientists better understand factors that regulate various reproductive phenomena - in the cells, molecules and organs of cattle, sheep, pigs, mink, rats and rabbits.

His basic research has led to some applied benefits for the agricultural industry. For example, his research group's discovery that a compound found in cottonseed could lead to gestation abnormalities in sheep helped producers create new diet rations for breeding animals.

A highly regarded teacher, Stormshak has served as a mentor to numerous students who have gone on to successful careers in animal science and veterinary medicine.

Stormshak is a 1959 graduate of Washington State University, where he also earned a master's degree. He has a Ph.D. in endocrinology from the University of Wisconsin.

In his 29 years at the university, Stormshak and his research group have generated nearly $2.5 million in funded grant support.

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Roy Arnold, 541-737-2111