University Distinguished Professors make unique and highly impactful contributions to OSU, the nation, and the world through their scholarship, creative work, teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students.

2022 University Distinguished Professor Lectures

Friday, may 20 | memorial union horizon room

Advanced registration & in-person attendance are encouraged.

All lectures will be recorded and live-streamed via

Dr. Michael Freitag, 2022 University Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

epigenetics: i know it when i see it 


Dr. Michael Freitag is professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the College of Science. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Freitag’s research in epigenetics has yielded significant discoveries in biology and human health and garnered more than $6 million in funding, including from the National Science Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Freitag is an extraordinary mentor of undergraduate and graduate students and has been actively involved in the STEM Leaders program, which mentors first-generation and underrepresented students at OSU.


Dr. Kathryn Higley, 2022 University Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering

bugs, bunnies, and bombs: radioecology's role in radiation protection  


Dr. Kathryn Higley is the Edward N. Rickert, Jr. Professor in the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering and the interim director of the Center for Quantitative Life Sciences. Dr. Higley co-developed the medical physics master’s program at Oregon Health and Science University and has built one of the few academic radioecology research labs in the nation. Her nationally recognized research in health physics and radioecology has been supported by over $14 million in competitively awarded funding since her arrival at Oregon State. Professor Higley previously served as the associate director of the TRACE-COVID-19 Project, which tracked the prevalence of the virus in communities across Oregon.

Dr. Brent Steel, 2022 University Distinguished Professor of Public Policy

the democracy and technocracy quandary: science, scientists, and the policy process


Dr. Brent Steel is professor and director of the Public Policy Graduate Program in the School of Public Policy, College of Liberal Arts. His research and teaching span the areas of international relations, comparative politics, public administration, and public policy. He has served as principal investigator on grants totaling more than $25 million, including from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has been instrumental in leading the development of doctoral and bachelor degrees in public policy, a graduate minor in rural studies, and a graduate certificate in energy policy, structuring the public policy program to create pipelines for diverse students to gain access to masters and doctoral degrees.