Five University of Michigan faculty members have been recognized for their outstanding teaching and service with one of U-M’s most prestigious honors: the Distinguished University Professorship.

The Board of Regents approved the appointments July 20 for Kevin C. Chung, Mark J. Kushner, Bhramar Mukherjee Kon-Well Wang and Patricia J. Wittkopp. They begin Sept. 1, last throughout the recipient’s period of active service at the university and may be retained after retirement.

Each professorship bears a name determined by the appointed professor in consultation with their dean. Newly appointed Distinguished University Professors are invited to give an inaugural lecture.

The Board of Regents established the Distinguished University Professorships in 1947 to recognize senior faculty members with exceptional scholarly or creative achievements, national and international reputations for academic excellence and superior records of teaching, mentoring and service.


Patricia J. Wittkopp

Deborah E. Goldberg Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Wittkpp also is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, the Sally L. Allen Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and of molecular, cellular and developmental biology in LSA.

A world-renowned evolutionary geneticist, Wittkopp’s research program addresses fundamental questions in evolutionary biology, including the molecular mechanisms controlling variation in gene expression and the underlying phenotypic differences within and between populations and species.

Studying fruit flies and baker’s yeast, she has investigated how the evolution of gene regulation processes drives organismal and species-level differentiation. Wittkopp’s research has been influential in understanding how previously unappreciated elements of the genome influence gene expression and phenotypes.

“Professor Wittkopp’s scholarly acumen has been widely recognized … and her service shows a dedication to improving the institutions that will cultivate the next generation of scientists,” Solomon and McCauley wrote.