Montana State University

MSU's Douglas, Sexson named Regents Professors

November 16, 2012

The Montana Board of Regents has named MSU English professor Michael Sexson, top, and chemistry and biochemistry professor Trevor Douglas were named Regents Professors, which is the top teaching award in the Montana University System. The distinction honors professors who have achieved top levels in teaching, research and outreach. MSU photos by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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Two Montana State University professors -- one a pioneer in the field of nanoscience and the other a master teacher of ideas and English literature -- have been named Montana University System Regents Professors, the most prestigious designation to be attained by a professor in the system.

The Montana Board of Regents unanimously approved the designation for Trevor Douglas, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and English professor Michael Sexson at their November meetings. The two received a standing ovation from the crowd on hand at the meeting.

"It is with great pride that Montana State University nominated these two amazing professors who epitomize excellence in each area of our mission -- teaching, research and outreach," said MSU President Waded Cruzado.

Douglas and Sexson are the sixth and seventh MSU professors to be named Regents Professors. Others include philosophy professor Gordon Brittan, named in 1986 and now retired; John Carlsten, a physics professor selected in 1992; Paul Grieco, a chemistry and biochemistry professor selected in 2006; Jack Horner, professor of paleontology selected in 2001; and Brett Walker, history professor selected in 2008.

Douglas came to MSU in 2001 and in 2003 co-founded the MSU Center for Bio-inspired NanoMaterials and has introduced the science of extremely small entities to young students Bozeman through NanoDays and Science Saturdays. He also has taken the outreach programs to students on Montana reservations as well as his native South Africa.

Douglas is noted for his research as well as his creative approach to the synthesis of nanomaterials featuring his design of proteins cages and his targeted use of nanomaterials. He has secured more than $20 million in grant funding, and he has published more than 150 scientific papers about his research in some of the world's most prestigious scientific journals. Other scientists have cited his work more than 900 times in the last year alone and nearly 3,000 during Douglas' career. His mentoring of students ranging from freshmen to postdoctoral fellows has inspired others to become scientists, professors and leaders in industry.

Sexson is known as a master teacher and a luminous intellectual presence at MSU who has brought passion, energy and depth to his classroom since he began at the university in 1966. He is recognized for igniting the imaginations and academic passions of thousands of students. Years after they have taken his classes, his former students, who are now in professions such as business, law and medicine, say that they have become supporters of the arts and humanities because of Sexson's near magical ability to excite them about often difficult topics ranging from myths to Shakespeare.

A writer of books and scores of articles, Sexson is also known as an innovator and organizer of public humanities. Throughout the decades he has organized intellectual conferences that include Eclipse '79 and Logon '83. With his wife, religious studies professor Lynda Sexson, he has produced the Corona journal and, most recently, Corona Productions.

Sexson is also the voice of MSU commencement. For decades he has read the name of each candidate for graduation with grace and distinction.

Cruzado said she is pleased with the honor because the professors represent the essence of the university.

"All of us at MSU are deeply appreciative of the work of these two wonderful professors and congratulate them on their accomplishment," Cruzado said.

Tracy Ellig (406) 994-5607,