Xiaodong Zhang, PhD, the Robert M. Critchfield Professor in Engineering in the College of Engineering’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, has earned The Ohio State University 2023 Distinguished Scholar Award in recognition of decades of research leadership. Senior leadership in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge surprised Zhang with the honor at a recent faculty meeting.

“Being recognized as a University Distinguished Scholar is a tremendous honor to me. During my time as department chair, I had the privilege of nominating three of my colleagues who are exceptional leaders in their fields. I am both thrilled and humbled to now join this distinguished group with them.”

Xiaodong Zhang, PhD
Dr. Mohler presenting award to Dr. Zhang

Zhang's research interests cover a wide spectrum in the areas of high performance and distributed systems, with a data management in computer and scalable systems being a common thread among his projects. He has transferred his academic research into advanced technology to impact general-purpose production systems in both hardware and software. Several technical innovations and research results from his team have been widely adopted in commercial processors, major operating systems and databases with direct contributions to the advancement of the computer and distributed systems.  

“Dr. Zhang’s dedication to teaching, research, mentorship and leadership are the embodiment of the spirit of this award,” said Peter Mohler, interim executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. 

“Look at the number of CAREER Awards this department has gotten. We stopped counting,” said Anish Arora, computer science and engineering department chair. “That’s the culture that’s been created in our department thanks to the emphasis that Xiaodong has made for us.” 

“The CSE department is a dynamic, energetic, collegial and collaborative environment where faculty members are incredibly talented and hardworking. The CSE staff members are highly efficient to help faculty and students. They are playing numerous leadership roles in education, research, and service both within and outside the university,” Zhang added. “I am grateful for the invaluable support and opportunities I have received throughout my career in this outstanding department.”

room of peers clapping for dr. zhang

Prior to joining Ohio State as CSE chair in 2006, Zhang was Lettie Pate Evans Professor and Chair of Computer Science Department at the College of William and Mary and served as the program director on high-performance computing at the National Science Foundation. He received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he received Distinguished Engineering and Applied Science Alumni Award in 2011. He was recognized by ACM Microarchitecture Test of Time Award in 2020. He is also a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  

The Distinguished Scholar Award is among the highest annual honors awarded at Ohio State. The university-level award honors six faculty members who demonstrate scholarly activity, conduct research or creative works that represent exceptional achievements in their fields and garner distinction for the university.  
Award recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including past award recipients. Distinguished Scholars receive an honorarium and a research grant to be used over the next three years. Learn more about previous Distinguished Scholar Award recipients.  


Quotes from Zhang’s nomination

“In addition to his influential scholarly work, Professor Zhang is also an outstanding educator and advisor, from which students have benefited most. He is an excellent teacher in classrooms, where he always explains sophisticated concepts in simple ways with analogies and examples. His teaching method influenced us who are on faculty to do the best job for students and give them the best learning experiences,” said Feng Chen, Louisiana State University .   

“Overall, the contributions of Professor Zhang go way beyond authoring highly cited papers to actually making tech transfer to widely used major open-source and commercial systems. It is impressive that this did not happen once or twice, but it did happen many times for many of his projects,” said Mohamed F. Mokbel, University of Minnesota. 

“Dr. Zhang is a unique academic – he does not go for flashy topics, he does not aggressively push his research, he does not go for quantity, but he focuses on doing very good work and publishing very good papers at a good rate. The end result is a set of very good papers and almost no fluff in his publication record,” said M. Tamer Özsu, University of Waterloo.