3 faculty elevated to Distinguished, University professorships

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Three faculty were honored for exceptional achievement and contributions by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees during its meeting June 3-4. Distinguished Professor recognizes achievement in a single field; whereas, University Professor is the appropriate designation for individuals whose work is more interdisciplinary in nature.

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Jerry Oakes, M.D., was named Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery. Oakes, who developed the first treatment for brain malformation Chiari and authored the 2014 textbook “The Chari Malformations,” joined the department in 1992. He has published approximately 460 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and authored more than 60 book chapters in premier neurosurgery textbooks.

Oakes has served on many committees, including the pediatric editorial board for Journal of Neurosurgery and as a reviewer for the journals Neurosurgery and Pediatrics; he is a past president of the American Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery, the Southern Neurosurgical Society and the Neurosurgical Society of Alabama.
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Trygve Tollefsbol, Ph.D., D.O., was named Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology. Tollefsbol, ranked among the top three authors internationally in the field of cancer epigenetics, came to UAB in 1998 and has published more than 145 peer-reviewed research papers, 28 book chapters and 17 books on topics such as diet, epigenetics and cancer prevention.

Tollefsbol has received more than 60 research grants totaling nearly $20 million in funding, founded and directed the UAB Cell Senescence Culture Facility for more than 20 years and has trained more than 50 scientists while at UAB. In 2016, he received UAB’s Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction and a $50,000 unsolicited award from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research for his study of the mechanisms of biological aging. He also was the founder and chief editor for Translational Epigenetics, an associate editor of Frontiers in Genetics’ Epigenomics and Epigenetics and was an original editorial board member for Clinical Epigenetics, among others.

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Molly M. Wasko, Ph.D., was named University Professor in the Collat School of Business Department of Management, Information Systems and Quantitative Methods. Wasko joined UAB in 2010 and has published 22 scholarly papers with more than 12,400 citations to her credit, plus 11 refereed book chapters and more than 100 invited presentations at professional meetings. She has acquired research grants totaling more than $5 million from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to support her work with the national Innovation Corps programs.

Wasko is the recipient of both the 2012 Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) Alabama Launchpad Award and the Birmingham Business Journal Entrepreneur Spotlight Award and often collaborates with the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Engineering, Center for Aging Research and other UAB units. She also has created and delivered six new courses bridging the disciplines of information systems, management, technology, business strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship and research commercialization.

The rank of Distinguished Professor is a campuswide appointment that recognizes international accomplishments to confer richly deserved prestige and honor on those selected to receive this designation. The rank of University Professor is a campuswide appointment primarily prestigious in a specific discipline; it confers an academic rank that transcends departmental and disciplinary lines and grants recipients the greatest latitude in teaching, writing, and scholarly research. Review the criteria online.