Three earn highest promotion to Regents professor

PULLMAN, Wash. – Three WSU faculty members have been promoted to Regents professor. The promotion honors the highest level of international distinction in the discipline that raises university standards through teaching, scholarship and public service.
The employees will receive recognition along with other annual WSU award winning faculty and staff at the Celebrating Excellence banquet March 30, part of the annual Showcase celebration of employee excellence and achievement.
Reservations for the banquet are being accepted through March 16 at
The Regents professor honorees are:
Thomas W. Okita, professor and scientist in the Institute of Biological Chemistry. He is recognized within the research community as one of the world’s outstanding plant scientists. His research focuses on starch regulation and RNA targeting and localization in plants.
He has published 147 refereed articles in highly respected journals including Science, Nature and Cell and has published 33 research monographs. Since 1985 he has been a principal investigator on awards totaling more than $17 million. His research has been supported by competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as the Rockefeller and McKnight foundations. 
Okita is an exemplary teacher and mentor. He has advised more than 60 scientists in his laboratory and supervised the undergraduate research of 42 students. He has served on 39 federal advisory committees and on the editorial boards of six academic journals. He is chief editor of Plant Science.
W. Sue Ritter, professor in veterinary and comparative anatomy, pharmacology and physiology. Her laboratory seeks to identify metabolic events that control the onset of feeding as well as the neural pathways responsible for monitoring those events. Her work focuses on mechanisms by which the brain senses glucose, its essential metabolic fuel. Her results contribute to an understanding of obesity, diabetes and complications of insulin therapy in diabetics.
She has received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health for 35 of her 38 years at Washington State University and two international Fogarty fellowships. She has held major grants from the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  The author of more than 100 publications, she has earned national and international recognition for her scientific contributions. 
Ritter was the 2008-09 recipient of the WSU Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Scholarship and Arts. In addition to her scientific achievements, she Ritter has dedicated significant time to teaching programs at WSU and was instrumental in establishing the undergraduate program in neuroscience.
Michael P. Wolcott, professor in civil and environmental engineering, director of the Institute of Sustainable Design and Louisiana-Pacific endowed professor of wood materials and engineering. He is an international leader in bio-based composite research. His work has led to development of advanced materials that are more durable, cost less to manufacture, create less pollution and provide better performance. 
His research has appeared in more than 100 publications. He has been principal investigator on more than 40 academic research projects. He managed more than 75 industrial product research and development projects with more than 45 companies. He has received more than $60 million in funding from numerous federal agencies.
Wolcott has received many honors for his innovative research, including two George Marra Awards for excellence in wood research, the Wood Award for excellence in graduate research and the Cahn Award for applied surface science research. He received an Alumnus Career Achievement Award in 2009 from Virginia Tech and, from WSU, the inaugural Anjan Bose Outstanding Researcher Award. The College of Engineering and Architecture named him Outstanding Research Faculty in 2004 and 2005 and Outstanding Teaching Faculty in 2007.

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