Professor Mark Distefano receives UMN Outstanding Service Award

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (10/16/2023) – Distinguished McKnight University Professor Mark Distefano has been recently awarded a University of Minnesota Outstanding Service Award. The University Senate and University Awards and Honors recognized Distefano with this award for his work as past chair of the All-University Honors Committee and current role as chair of the affiliated Namings and Renamings Work Group (NRWG).

Throughout the last academic year, Distefano’s contributions included collaborating on rewriting the renaming process and criteria to align with the new Board of Regents Policy: Namings and Renamings, active participation in the selection of which UMN buildings were under review, and reviewing nominations for retention of specific building names. The awarding office highlighted that Distefano’s “dedication, engagement, and patience, particularly when serving in this uncompensated role, far exceeded expectations.” 

"It is essential to carry out this process in an equitable manner that reflects the values of the University community,” Distefano says. “It has been an honor to serve on the committee and working group with its diverse composition of members.”

Distefano has been a member of the UMN Department of Chemistry since 1992. His group focuses on two areas of protein prenylation: chemical biology and biotechnology applications. In pursuit of these topics, members of the group perform a variety of different types of experiments including chemical synthesis, biochemistry, proteomics, cell culture, and animal-based work. The goal of this research is to gain insight into protein prenylation that can be used to advance biology and develop new therapeutic approaches for a broad range of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and infectious disease.

Over the course of his career, Distefano has been recognized with a variety of awards and honors for his dedication to teaching and service. Previous honors include the Lloyd Reyerson Professorship (2016), American Chemical Society Fellowship (2014), Distinguished McKnight University Professor award (2011), Merck Professor of Chemistry (2011), Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Distinguished Teaching Professor award (2006), and George W. Taylor/ITAS Award for Distinguished Teaching (2004).