Stuart Cooper named Distinguished University Professor


Cooper learns of Distinguished University Professor title

Stuart Cooper upon hearing the news

President Johnson extends hand to Cooper - 2023 DUP

President Johnson congratulates Professor Cooper

Provost Gilliam hands Cooper the 2023 DUP grant

Provost Gilliam hands Dr. Cooper the 2023 DUP grant

Cooper acceptance speech DUP award April 2023

Professor Cooper gives a short acceptance speech

DUP story

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To Distinguished Professor of Engineering Stuart L. Cooper, it seemed like it was going to be an ordinary department faculty meeting.

About 45 minutes into the meeting, however, an entourage of senior Ohio State University administrators including President Kristina Johnson, Provost Melissa Gilliam, and Dean Ayanna Howard entered the room.

"I do apologize for the interruption, but we have an important announcement to make," President Johnson said.

Everyone in the room, including Professor Cooper, turned their heads in curiosity.

"We're here to let Professor Cooper know that he has been selected for the highest academic honor a faculty member at Ohio State can receive: Distinguished University Professor," she explained.

Enthusiastic clapping and happy smiles ensued as a surprised and humbled Professor Cooper received the news.

Provost Gilliam read the following statement:

"Stuart Cooper is a formidable scientist, leader, teacher and mentor of world acclaim who has, in many ways, served as an inspiration to the fields of biomedical and biological engineering, noted a nominator. Known for his immense contributions to fundamental understanding and technological application, Cooper is a true pioneer in the biomaterials field, having broken vital new ground in understanding interactions of polymeric materials with physiological fluids and tissues.

"In addition, Cooper is a consummate scientific mentor who is welcoming and supportive of all ideas and able to stimulate individuals to think creatively. His reputation as a teacher and mentor extends to his outstanding graduate students, for whom he has always been readily available, as well as to younger faculty and colleagues in the field. He mentored 62 PhD students, many of whom have succeeded at high levels. In 2018, he won the College of Engineering Faculty Mentoring Award celebrating these efforts. He served as chair of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from 2004 to 2014 and one of his crowning achievements is the beautiful, state-of-the-art Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building, a project he worked closely on for ten years.

"Cooper has won major national and international awards that derive not only from his brilliant work but his incredible service across a broad domain. His contributions were recognized at the highest level within the engineering profession when he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Other awards include Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; Founders Award, Society for Biomaterials; Founding Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; International Award for Achievement in Biomaterials, Japanese Society for Biomaterials; Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award, American Chemical Society; Fellow, American Chemical Society, Polymer Division."

Professor Cooper is known worldwide for his fundamental work on phase separation in block polymers, which are responsible for the good mechanical properties of many widely-used polymers such as the polyurethanes used in the high-performance thermoplastic elastomer industry. He also led the field in studying biomedical polyurethanes from both a chemical and physical perspective, and wrote two major books in the field. His early research integrating chemical engineering with the then-emerging discipline of biomedical engineering has much advanced the research and application of polyurethane blood materials interactions and biocompatibility principles in a variety of commonly-used products and medical devices such as catheters, blood pumps and pacemaker insulation.

He served as president of the Society for Biomaterials in 1996 and president of the international scientific research honor society Sigma Xi in 2017. He was recently inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2021.

The Office of Academic Affairs awards the permanent, honorific title of Distinguished University Professor on a competitive basis to full professors who have truly exceptional records in teaching, in research, scholarly or creative work, and in service. Distinguished University Professors automatically become members of the President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee. 

In addition, recipients are awarded a $30,000 one-time grant to support their academic work and are expected to maintain a regular program of teaching/ mentorship, research, scholarly or creative work, and service.

Honorees will be formally awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor at a meeting held by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees later this spring.

The other two faculty members given the title were Elena G. Irwin in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences' Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, and Stanley Lemeshow of the College of Public Health's Biostatistics Division.

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Cooper 2023 DUP group shot

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Left to right: CBE Department Chair and Distinguished University Professor Umit S. Ozkan, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Helen Malone, President Kristina M. Johnson, Distinguished Professor Stuart L. Cooper, Provost Melissa Gilliam, College of Engineering Dean Ayanna Howard, and College of Engineering Associate Dean Rachel Kleit