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K-State News
Kansas State University
128 Dole Hall
1525 Mid-Campus Dr North
Manhattan, KS 66506


University honors three faculty members as newest distinguished professors

Monday, April 16, 2018


MANHATTAN — Three Kansas State University professors have been named 2018 university distinguished professors, a lifetime title that is the highest honor the university bestows on its faculty members.

The professors receiving the distinction include Mary Beth Kirkham, professor of agronomy; David Poole, professor of kinesiology, and anatomy and physiology; and James Sherow, professor of history.

"Our newest university distinguished professors are exceptional in their fields and have demonstrated the highest levels of scholarship," said April Mason, university provost and senior vice president. "With such scholars leading the way, we continue toward our goal of becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025."

The distinguished professors are appointed following a universitywide nomination and evaluation process conducted by the provost. All three faculty members will receive a personalized plaque and medallion at the university's fall 2018 commencement ceremonies

Kirkham is an international authority on the plant-water relations of winter wheat and the uptake of heavy metals by crops grown on polluted soil. She was the first researcher to document the effects of elevated levels of carbon dioxide on crops grown under semiarid conditions. She also conducts research on the effects of gravity on plants.

Kirkham came to Kansas State University in 1980. Her research has been supported by organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Office Water Research and Technology.

She has contributed to more than 300 articles in scientific publications, has written three textbooks and has edited four books. She has served on the editorial board for 21 journals, including Soil Science and the Journal of Crop Improvement.

Kirkham is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Crop Science Society of America and the Royal Meteorological Society.

She was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in 2017. She also has received the Carl Sprengel Agronomic Research Award from the American Society of Agronomy and the 2010 Crop Science Research Award. In 2013, she received the Irvin E. Youngberg Award in Applied Science, one of the Higuchi-University of Kansas Endowment Research Achievement Awards. At Kansas State University, she received the 2010 Dr. Ron and Rae Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Research.

Before coming to Kansas State University, Kirkham held appointments at Oklahoma State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She earned a doctorate and a master's degree in botany from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Wellesley College.

Poole's discoveries have helped define how oxygen is transported from the lungs to be used by tissue mitochondria. Using innovative models, including humans, racehorses, dogs, elephants and rodents at rest and during exercise, he has identified key sites of metabolic control in health and disease. These observations have driven a paradigm shift in the understanding of how capillaries function and advanced novel therapeutics for heart failure.

Poole earned his bachelor's degree in sports science/applied physiology from Liverpool Polytechnic, England, and his master's degree and doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles, with postdoctoral training in medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He was the first recipient of the higher Doctor of Science in Physiology from John Moores University in Liverpool in 2000.

Poole believes that outstanding teaching and research go hand in hand. He has taught more than 5,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate/professional students at Kansas State University and has mentored more than 50 master's students and 16 doctoral students as co-director of the university's Clarenburg Cardiorespiratory Laboratory.

Poole has authored more than 300 research publications, reviews and three books. He has been editor/associate editor for four scientific journals and currently serves on nine editorial boards. Poole has won top college awards at the university for research and teaching in the College of Human Ecology and the College of Veterinary Medicine. He was honored by the British first lady, Cherie Booth Blair, in 2000 and the Danish National Academy of Sciences in 2010. He is the 2018 Edward F. Adolph Distinguished Lecturer from the Environmental and Exercise Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. Poole is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, past president for the Central States American College of Sports Medicine from 2001-2002 and incoming councillor for the Exercise and Environmental Physiology section of the American Physiological Society.

Poole has been awarded more than $5 million as principal investigator and $17.9 million as co-investigator in research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Heart Association. His h-Index is 65 with more than 15,000 citations.

A fourth-generation Kansan, Sherow is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on Kansas, North American Indian and environmental history.

Sherow has authored six books. His 2014 book, "Railroad Empire Across the Heartland," was named a Kansas Notable Book and received the 2015 Midwestern History Association's Hamlin Garland Prize for the best book. His forthcoming book, "The Chisholm Trail: Joseph McCoy's Great Gamble," has received considerable advance praise. Sherow has authored six book chapters and 17 refereed articles, has given 100 public presentations and conference papers, and is featured in several documentaries and television programs.

Sherow exemplifies the scholar-citizen tradition of land-grant universities. In August 2012 he co-authored one of 10 essays in the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Portfolio, which firmly established Kansas State University's legacy as the first operational land-grant college. He manages Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, the journal of record for the state. Sherow recently was elected president of the Kansas Association of Historians. He was elected twice to the Manhattan City Commission and was mayor from 2011 to 2012. He was instrumental in creating the Flint Hills Discovery Center, a $24 million project educating the public about the history and ecology of the tallgrass prairie.

Sherow has been awarded several grants and fellowships collectively in excess of $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution and other organizations.

He has taught Kansas history for 25 years and has educated a full generation of social studies teachers across the state. In 1995, he received the William L. Stamey Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. He has served as the major advisor to six doctoral graduates, who have distinguished themselves in scholarship awards, fellowships, publishing and full academic careers.

Before arriving at Kansas State University in 1992, Sherow was an assistant professor at Southwest Texas State University. He earned his doctorate in history from the University of Colorado in 1987 and received his master's and bachelor's degrees from Wichita State University in 1978 and 1976 respectively.

Written by

Jennifer Tidball

At a glance

Three Kansas State University professors have been named 2018 university distinguished professors, a lifetime title that is the highest honor the university bestows on its faculty members.

Notable quote

"Our newest university distinguished professors are exceptional in their fields and have demonstrated the highest levels of scholarship."

— April Mason, university provost and senior vice president