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Gar W. Rothwell named Distinguished Professor

ATHENS, Ohio (June 11, 2004) -- Ohio University President Robert Glidden named Gar W. Rothwell the University's newest Distinguished Professor on Friday, June 11, during the Graduate commencement at the Convocation Center.

Gar Rothwell. Photo by Rick FaticaThe Distinguished Professor Award, Ohio University's highest honor for a faculty member, recognizes scholarly accomplishment, professional reputation and contributions to the university. A lifetime designation, it provides one quarter of professional leave and the privilege of naming one student annually to receive a Distinguished Professor Scholarship.

"We are extraordinarily fortunate to live in a society where public education provides opportunities for all, rather than privilege for the few," said Rothwell. "I am honored to have been given that opportunity, and to have spent my first 30 years at Ohio University extending it to others."

As chair and professor in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, Rothwell is internationally known for his research in paleobotany and plant systematics.

An Ohio University faculty member since 1974, he has also held visiting teaching and research positions at the University of Alberta and the University of London. He co-authored the book, "Paleobotany and the Evolution of Plants," in 1993 and has written numerous book articles and chapters. He is also a member of several professional organizations.

Rothwell has been recognized in the past for his excellence. In 1993, he was given the Edgar T. Wherry Award from the Botanical Society of America, in 1999, he was named an Ohio University Presidential Research Scholar and in 2002, he was presented the Michael A. Cichan Award by the Botanical Society of America for the best paper published the previous year that bridges the boundary between plant structure and evolution.

In a letter of nomination for Rothwell, Professor Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom, wrote, "In my opinion, Gar Rothwell is in the top five of all paleobotanists working anywhere in the world today. If Gar's work had somehow not been undertaken, some of the best information that we have on early seed plants, early ferns, early conifers and many important groups of extinct plants would not be available to us."

In another letter of nomination, Ohio University Associate Chair and Professor in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology Phillip Cantino wrote, "Largely as a result of Dr. Rothwell's efforts, the Ohio University Paleobotanical Herbarium has grown into the third largest collection of plant fossils in the nation. It is an internationally recognized repository for more than 50,000 preparations of figured and published specimens of over 100 species of extinct plants. It includes the largest collection of fossilized North American conifers in the world and the oldest seed plants. He directs and curates the Herbarium and personally collected many of the specimens."

Rothwell is known as a leader in the study of fossil plants and is secretary of the International Organisation of Palaeobotany and serves as an associate editor of the American Journal of Botany.

In 1966, he was presented his bachelor's degree in biology from Central Washington University, in 1969, he received his master's degree in biology from the University of Illinois-Chicago and in 1973, he earned his doctorate in botany from the University of Alberta.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

Editors: A photo of Rothwell can be found at: www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/ROTHWELL_GAR.JPG

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