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K-State News
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Three faculty members named university distinguished professors

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


– Kansas State University has named three faculty members as the newest university distinguished professors.

The professors receiving the distinction include: Gary Pierzynski, professor and head of the agronomy department; Sandra Stith, Virginia Mowrey McAninch professor of family studies and human services; and Bhadriraju Subramanyam, the Don Wilbur Sr. professor of postharvest protection in the grain science and industry department.

University distinguished professor is a lifetime title and the highest honor the university bestows on its faculty members. The distinguished professors are appointed following a universitywide competition conducted by the provost.

"Our newest university distinguished professors represent the very best scholars in their fields," said April Mason, university provost and senior vice president. "Through their outstanding teaching, research and creative work, they demonstrate dedication to education and scholarship. We rely on such distinguished leaders as we move toward becoming a Top 50 public research university by 2025."

From soil chemistry to family therapy studies to stored-product insect pest management, each of this year's recipients has received national and international recognition for work in their fields. The new distinguished professors will receive a personalized plaque and medallion at the university's fall 2014 commencement ceremonies.

Pierzynski is known internationally for his knowledge of the chemistry of phosphorus in soil and for his work on remediation of contaminated sites and soils.

He has more than $5 million in research funding and has collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He has patented a method to immobilize metals in contaminated soils based on his knowledge of phosphorus chemistry. The method provides a way to stabilize lead in soil and to minimize negative environmental effects. He has published more than 78 refereed papers and three books, including the successful textbook "Soils and Environmental Quality." He served as the editor for the Journal of Environmental Quality and has given more than 50 invited presentations around the world.

Pierzynski was the interim dean of the College of Agriculture and interim director of K-State Research and Extension from 2010 to 2012. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America, and has received national awards for both teaching and research. He served as president for the Soil Science Society of America from 2011 to 2013 and served on the board of directors for the Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences from 2011 to 2013.

He joined the university's agronomy department in 1989. He received his bachelor's degree in crop and soil science and his master's degree in environmental chemistry from Michigan State University. He earned his doctoral in soil chemistry from Ohio State University.

Stith is an internationally known expert on understanding and treating intimate partner violence. She is director of the university's marriage and family therapy program in the College of Human Ecology.

Since coming to the university in 2007, Stith has garnered nearly $8 million in grants. She is the author of one book and has edited four books on intimate partner violence and authored more than 90 articles and book chapters on the subject. Stith has received National Institute of Mental Health funding to develop and test a couple's treatment program for intimate partner violence. She has worked with the U.S. Air Force Family Advocacy Program since 1998 as a manager of a variety of family violence-related research projects.

Her other honors include the American Family Therapy Association's Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research Award in 2007 and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy's Outstanding Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy Award in 2004. In 2012 she became a fellow of the National Council on Family Relations.

Stith grew up in Oklahoma. She received her bachelor's degree in education from Oklahoma State University. She earned her master's degree in life span human development and her doctorate in marriage and family therapy from Kansas State University.

Subramanyam is recognized internationally for his expertise in applying integrated pest management programs to protect dry, durable commodities and their products from the farm to the fork.

Subramanyam conducts research, education and technology transfer programs in the management of insect pests associated with stored raw grains, food/feed processing facilities, warehouses and retail environments using alternatives to pesticides. Subramanyam joined the university's grain science and industry department in 1999. Since joining the university, he has published 69 peer-reviewed research papers and four books and has given 151 invited oral presentations. His research has garnered more than $19 million in grants.

He received the 2004 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award, the 2012 Award of Excellence in Integrated Pest Management Research from the Entomological Society of America Foundation, the2012 Andersons Cereals and Oilseeds Award of Excellence in recognition of outstanding research accomplishments and the 2013 Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award.

Subramanyam received his doctorate and master's degrees in entomology from the University of Minnesota and his bachelor's degree from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University in India.


April Mason


University distinguished professors


Bhadriraju is baa-dri-RAA-joo; Subramanyam is SOO-bra-man-yam


Download a high-resolution photo of Gary Pierzynski.

Gary Pierzynski

Gary Pierzynski

Download a high-resolution photo of Sandra Stith. 

Sandra Stith

Sandra Stith

Download a high-resolution photo of Bhadriraju Subramanyam.

Bhadriraju Subramanyam

Bhadriraju Subramanyam

Written by

Jennifer Tidball

At a glance

Kansas State University has named three faculty members as the newest university distinguished professors. The distinction is a lifetime title and the highest honor the university bestows on its faculty.

Notable quote

"Our newest university distinguished professors represent the very best scholars in their fields."

April Mason, university provost