Outstanding Alumni Award

Nominate an alumnus or faculty member

The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes alumni for outstanding professional achievement and support of the college or university. Recipients exemplify MSU’s commitment to the land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach through their dedication to professional, community and/or MSU service.

Anyone may submit a nomination.

The award is presented at the annual alumni awards held in conjunction with Classes Without Quizzes.

Nominations not selected to receive the award are held for three years and automatically re-nominated each year.

Questions? Please contact Sara Ford via email or (517) 884-0290.

2017 Outstanding Alumni Award

John Woollam, Ph.D.
M.S., physics ’63; Ph.D., solid state physics ’67

Professor John Woollam, a George Holmes Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, is an outgoing individual who is deeply involved in helping students build careers, especially in research and development.

Woollam, who also holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, is an internationally known expert in ellipsometry. Spectroscopic ellipsometry is a process that uses reflected polarized light to detect properties of materials and make precise measurements of films that are only an atom or two thick. He is founder and president of the J.A. Woollam Co., a university spin-off that has emerged as a worldwide leader in the production of spectroscopic ellipsometry instrumentation. The company manufactures ellipsometers for a wide range of applications and, with distributorships in more than a dozen countries, has sold more than 2,500 ellipsometers worldwide. Woollam is named on 57 patents and his company has secured more than 200 patents to date.

He has focused his research in recent years on thin films. This involves film preparation, and characterization by numerous experimental techniques. These include atomic force microscopy, spectrophotometry and optical interference microscopy. His most recent research is on biomaterials at interfaces, especially protein attachment to various surfaces. With National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) support, Woollam has worked on thin films for spacecraft chemical, mechanical and thermal protection from the space environment of atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation, and particulate and chemical contamination.

His research results appear in more than 430 peer-reviewed publications and he has delivered more than 475 presentations at society meetings. 

Woollam is the recipient of many honors. Most recently, he received the 2017 R.F. Bunshah Award from the International Conference on Metallurgical Coatings and Thin Films. In 2014, he was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and in 2013 he received the American Physical Society (APS) Prize for Industrial Application of Physics. He is also a fellow of the APS and the American Vacuum Society.

Past Recipients

  • 1980 – Eldon Foltz, Chemistry ’41
  • 1981 – James Orbison, Chemistry ’39
  • 1982 – Thomas Jamieson, Bio Science ’65
  • 1983 – Michael Schulz, Physical Science ’64
  • 1984 – Ron Goldsberry, Chemistry ’66 & ’69
  • 1985 – Susan Crispin, Botany & Plant Pathology ’78 & ’80
  • 1985 – Ritchie Wessling, Chemistry ’57
  • 1986 – Reardon Campeau, Mathematics ’65
  • 1987 – Charles Vincent, Chemistry ’54
  • 1988 – Gordon Guyer, Entomology ’53
  • 1989 – Harley Hotchkiss, Geology ’51
  • 1990 – Jerry Cowen, Physics ’50 & ’54
  • 1991 – Karen Klomparens, Botany & Plant Pathology ’72 & ’77
  • 1992 – Paul Ts’o, Botany & Plant Pathology ’51
  • 1993 – Joseph Longo, Physics ’66 & ’68
  • 1994 – Lorenz Kull, Physics ’67
  • 1995 – Robert Martin, Medical Technology ’71
  • 1996 – B.L.S. Prakasa Rao, Statistics ’66
  • 1997 – Durward L. Allen, Zoology ’37
  • 1998 – Richard & Shirley Pendell, Bio Science ’35
  • 1999 – Paul O’Connor, Chemistry ’91
  • 2000 – Jack Samarias, Statistics ’70
  • 2001 – Phaedon Avouris, Chemistry ’74
  • 2002 – Daniel Edson, Clinical Lab Science ’79
  • 2003 – Mary Ruth Dawson, Zoology ’52
  • 2004 – Eugene Parker, Physics ’48
  • 2005 – Michael Donoghue, Botany ’75
  • 2006 – Mark Ehlert, Microbiology ’75
  • 2007 – Stephen Warren, Zoology ’76 & Genetics ’81
  • 2008 – Kenneth Yerrick, Chemistry ’59 & ’61
  • 2009 – Susan Sylvester, Entomology ’78
  • 2010 – Azam Niroomand-Rad, Physics ’71 & ’78
  • 2011 – Eric Ayers, Microbiology ’85
  • 2012 – Bobby Wilson, Chemistry ’76
  • 2013 – Henry Edelhauser, Physiology ’64 & ’66
  • 2014 - Joseph Caruso, Chemistry '51
  • 2015 - Damian Handzy, Physics '95
  • 2016 - Patrick Smith, Chemistry ’72; M.S., Chemistry ’77; Ph.D., Chemistry ’78