Bill Fagan Named Distinguished University Professor

Bill Fagan was named a 2020 Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland. The title of Distinguished University Professor is the highest academic honor bestowed by the university.

Bill Fagan headshot
Bill Fagan. Photo courtesy of Bill Fagan.

Fagan, James Farquhar, Dinesh Manocha and Aravind Srinivasan join nearly 50 colleagues in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences who have been named Distinguished University Professor since 1980. Distinguished University Professors are faculty members who have been recognized nationally and internationally for the importance of their scholarly achievements. UMD’s president, along with a committee composed of the provost and seven faculty members—including several Distinguished University Professors—from diverse disciplines select the honorees each year. 


Fagan joined UMD’s Department of Biology in 2002 as an associate professor, and he has served as chair of the department since 2013.

Fagan is an ecologist known for his work advancing fundamental theory and often coupling that with creative empirical and informatics research. He is a leader in the field of spatial ecology and has made major contributions to better understand ecological boundaries, fragmentation and animal movement. Fagan has published more than 230 peer-reviewed journal articles, and he has supervised 5 master’s students, 21 Ph.D. students and more than 32 postdoctoral researchers.

He also helped innovate UMD’s undergraduate curriculum, with support from the National Science Foundation, by infusing mathematics into first-year biology classes. He also secured a U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need award for the department that funded graduate fellowships for students studying mathematics in biology.

Fagan is a fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has received numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship; the Presidential Award from the American Society of Naturalists; the UMD College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) Board of Visitors Distinguished Faculty Award; and a UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher award.

In addition to his leadership roles in the department, Fagan has also served at UMD’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) as director for research innovation (2011-13), as a Distinguished Scholar-Lecturer (2015), and as a Research Innovation Scholar (2013-present). He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Delaware and his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Washington.