CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will honor a leading medical researcher and a pioneer in the development of artificial intelligence with the highest honor it gives to its faculty, recognition as "Distinguished Professors."

Joseph Beckman, director of the Environmental Health Sciences Center at OSU, and Thomas Dietterich, director and professor of intelligent systems in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will be honored for their achievements this spring.

Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, said the two faculty members chosen for the award share similar traits of teaching excellence, critically important research contributions, leadership and service to the university and to their respective fields.

"Joe Beckman and Tom Dietterich really exemplify what we hope faculty will strive to become as they develop their careers," Randhawa said. "They serve as extraordinary role models and exemplars of multi-faceted achievement, from the classroom to the laboratory and beyond. They also have the respect and admiration from their colleagues and peers throughout the world, as well as on campus."

Beckman is the Ava Helen Pauling Chair and principal investigator in OSU's Linus Pauling Institute. A faculty member in the College of Science, he is perhaps best known for his discovery of the role of peroxynitrite in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, as well as his studies on antioxidants and nutrients that may help slow progression of the disease.

He is the 2012 recipient of the prestigious Oregon Health & Science University Medical Research Foundation's Discovery Award, as well as several other honors. An OSU faculty member since 2001, Beckman served as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Services Corps, and spent a dozen years as captain in the U.S. Army Reserve's Medical Services Corps.

"Joe is a true innovator in the study of neurodegenerative disease," noted Vince Remcho, dean of the College of Science. "I first met Joe when he visited OSU in 2001, and I found his studies on superoxide dismutase and its potential role in ALS to be fascinating.  Joe is a valued colleague, a talented scientist, and a wonderful mentor to our junior faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates."

Dietterich is a pioneer in the field of machine learning and, like Beckman, is one of the most highly cited scientists in his field. He has obtained more than $30 million in research grants over his career, helped build a world-class research group at Oregon State, and created three software companies. Dietterich also co-founded two of the field's leading journals and was elected first president of the International Machine Learning Society.

In 2012, Dietterich was chosen president-elect of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. His research has numerous applications in such diverse fields as drug design, electronic manufacturing, information management, ecological modeling, and natural resource management.

"Tom leads by example providing exemplary mentoring for faculty and students, collaborating with nearly every discipline on campus, and gaining international respect for his work," said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering. "We are so proud to have his leadership in the college."


Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.