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.

2023 University Distinguished Professor Lectures

wednesday, may 24 | memorial union horizon room

Dr. Emily Ho, 2023 University Distinguished Professor of Nutrition

Dr. Ho is a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences' nutrition program and is the endowed chair and director of the Linus Pauling Institute. She is nationally and internationally recognized for her work on nutritional approaches to addressing chronic disease and preventing cancer. She has received over 25 federal and foundation grant awards totaling over $22 million and her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

from b to z: food & nutrients to help you live better longer

Diet is one of the major contributing factors to the development of many chronic diseases. For example, it is estimated that 47% of colon cancer in the US could be prevented with a good diet. Dietary compounds can both prevent or slow down disease progression and promote optimal health. We have found that nutrients such as zinc affect DNA integrity and immune function. Foods and dietary components such as soy, teas and cruciferous vegetables (such as Broccoli) can target genetic and epigenetic processes to limit colon, prostate and breast cancer development. Many nutrients and natural compounds found in foods target the same pathways that drugs use to help fight off cancer and other diseases. As we find out about what drives the biology of chronic disease, it is becoming clearer that it’s not just genetics that predicts your risk and outcomes. Even if genetics is not in your favor, there are choices you can make with your environment and your food choices that can help you tip your balance favorably towards optimal health. The science behind these choices has been the focus on my laboratory at OSU for the last 20 years.


Dr. Yanyun Zhao, 2023 University Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Technology

Dr. Zhao is a professor, value-added food product specialist, and associate dean for faculty affairs in the College of Agricultural Sciences. She is a pioneer in her field, leading research that has had a transformative impact on the environmental sustainability of food packaging. She has been recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology and twice has been invited to serve as an international review panelist for the China National Natural Science Foundation Food Science competitive research grant program. 

a challenging yet rewarding journey in search of sustainable food packaging solutions 

Food packaging plays crucial roles in our food system for protecting food during storage, transportation and retail, as well as providing communication and convenience to consumers. However, over packaging and some packaging materials, especially plastic packaging have significantly and negatively impacted our environment and ecosystem. This presentation will share the journey in search of sustainable food packaging solutions in Zhao’s team through scientific discoveries and technological innovations. Some of the solutions to be shared include 1) replacing single-use plastic packaging through creating edible food packaging, 2) converting food processing and agricultural byproducts into biodegradable and/or compostable packaging, and 3) developing innovative food coatings (a form of edible packaging) for reducing food loss and waste across food chain.


2023 University Distinguished Professors Reception

5:00 P.M. | wednesday, may 24 | memorial union LOUNGE