Physicist named a distinguished professor

Oregon State University has named Professor of Physics Janet Tate its 2018 Distinguished Professor, the highest academic honor the university can bestow on a faculty member. Edward Brook, a professor of geology, and Joseph Spatafora, a professor of botany, also received this honor.

This honor will be permanent as long as the recipient remains at OSU. Tate, Brook and Spatafora will give lectures as a part of the Recognizing Excellence events. Tate will present a talk entitled, “With a little help from my friends: Collaborative materials research and incorporating research into the undergraduate curriculum,” on May 11 in CH2M Hill Alumni Center’s Willamette room at 9:30 a.m., followed by a reception in her honor from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Professors Brook, Spatafora and Tate make extraordinary contributions to OSU, Oregon and beyond through their research, teaching and outreach,” said Edward Feser, OSU provost and executive vice president. “Their work is a testimony to the unique power of the research university to embed, educate and mentor students in a milieu committed to advancing human understanding, generating new ideas and innovations, and developing solutions to problems of global consequence. We are honored to have them on our faculty.”

Tate, who was also named the Dr. Russ and Dolores Gorman Faculty Scholar in 2015, collaborates with material scientists at Oregon State and beyond. Her research is focused on creating new semiconductors with transparent circuits that have electrical and optical properties that help to solve problems such as efficient conversion of solar energy and efficient light emission.

Her research stimulated the Oregon State invention of the transparent oxide transistor, the enabling technology for the Retina 5K display now found in many Apple products.  Her work has been supported in part by more than $7 million in research grants.

Tate’s contributions in the classroom earned her the Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science in 2002 and two OSU Mortar Board top professor awards.

She is also an active mentor. One of the most important components of the undergraduate physics degree at Oregon State is the research thesis, which is required of all students. She has supervised 38 senior thesis projects and sponsored seven additional summer undergraduate research projects in her lab. At the graduate level, she has mentored 15 Ph.D. students and 11 master’s students, all to completion.

“I am proudest of the students I have worked with both in my lab and in the classroom,” said Tate. “They have all gone on to excellent careers. I have supervised the research of 50 undergraduate students and probably taught thousands of undergrads.”

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