Two CSU faculty selected for new Bishop Professorship endowed by anonymous donor

Nout-Lomas and Wrighton

From left, the recipients of the new Gordon and Joan Bishop Professorship are and Dr. Yvette Nout-Lomas and Kelly Wrighton. Photos by John Eisele

Thanks to a $750,000 gift from an anonymous donor, two Colorado State University faculty members have been selected as inaugural holders of the Gordon and Joan Bishop Professorship, the first endowed professorship ever provided through the Office of the Provost.

Kelly Wrighton, an associate professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Dr. Yvette Nout-Lomas, an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, will each hold the title for three years and will each receive an annual stipend to support their scholarly activities.

Donor’s intent

According to the donor’s wishes, the professorship is to be awarded to faculty in any discipline at CSU who demonstrates extraordinary contributions and excellence in all three areas of the university’s mission – teaching, research and outreach/engagement. Interim Provost Janice Nerger said what impressed her is that “the donor is passionate about recognizing and honoring faculty for their dedication to learning and teaching, and feels that more needs to be done to acknowledge their contributions to higher education and to our society.”

Wrighton and Nout-Lomas were selected through a university-wide process in which each academic dean was invited to nominate one faculty member from their college for the honor. A vote of the deans, including the dean of the Libraries and the dean of the Graduate School, was provided as a recommendation to Nerger, who made the final decision.

Nerger, Wrighton and Nout-Lomas
From left: Wrighton, Nerger and Nout-Lomas

Areas of expertise

Nout-Lomas is an equine veterinarian and neuroscientist specializing in internal medicine and neurology of the horse. Her main clinical interests are neurologic disease and critical care, and her research focuses on enhancing diagnostic abilities in neurologic horses and developing treatments. She identifies objective methods to evaluate gait in horses with neurologic disease and evaluate outcomes of diagnostic imaging techniques.

“I want to relay my thanks to the donor,” Nout-Lomas said. “It’s a great way of acknowledging faculty and a huge honor for me to be one of the winners.”

She said she plans to use the funding primarily as salary support for the graduate students and D.V.M. students she works with.

Wrighton specializes in microbiome data science, including the role of microorganisms in advancing soil health and mitigating greenhouse gas emission. Her research program focuses on the chemical reactions catalyzed by these communities of microorganisms, primarily on habitats where there is high methane release (like in ruminants, wetlands and subsurfaces).

‘It meant a lot’

Wrighton said the funding that comes with the professorship is impactful because it’s rare to have a nest egg that is unrestricted by grant requirements at this stage in one’s career. She echoed Nout-Lomas’ sentiments about the donor as well.

“I teared up when I found out,” Wrighton said. “So many people think of faculty and say, ‘Oh, you just teach and you get summers off.’ And our jobs are not like that. The fact that there’s someone out there who recognized that we all wear so many hats, and had an appreciation for that, is great. It was nice to just stop and say, wow, there’s a human out there who recognizes that we do long work weeks routinely because we love this, and who wanted to give thanks for that – it meant a lot.”

Wrighton said she plans to keep some of the money for team-building and recruitment, as well as investments into getting some higher risk, higher reward projects off the ground.

Nerger noted that the competition for the award was extraordinary and said the other six nominees for the professorship were so impressive that she is providing each of them with a monetary award as well.

The donor hopes this award will motivate more alumni to establish other, similar endowments, that recognize worthy faculty campus-wide.  The inaugural professorship will be celebrated among other honors during the Provost Annual Awards Celebration this spring.