Seven Professors named recipients of endowed positions

COSAM faculty include international leaders in their fields, ground-breaking researchers, and committed instructors of the next generation of scientists and mathematicians. Endowed chairs and professorships recognize excellent faculty by providing competitive salaries and resources for research, travel, and professional development. Financial support of COSAM faculty also allows the college to continue to attract and retain top-quality instructors and researchers.

Seven professors in COSAM were recently named the recipients of endowed positions. COSAM congratulates these exceptional individuals who have earned their respective recognition, and the college looks forward to their continued outstanding leadership in research, instruction, and outreach.

BezdekAndras Bezdek, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was named the C. Harry Knowles Professor for Research Leadership in Mathematics Instruction. Bezdek received a doctorate in 1986 from Ohio State University; a Kandidatus in 1989 from Alfréd Renyi Institute of Mathematics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; a Doctor Habilitation in 1999 from Eotvos University in Budapest; and a Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2006 in Budapest. He also received the COSAM Outstanding Teacher Award and, in the last five years, Bezdek has extended his research in discrete geometry to math education, promoting teaching geometry with the use of 3D models. Together with Professor Bret Smith of the Department of Industrial and Graphic Design, they introduced and organized an interdisciplinary studio modeling course and created a permanent mathematics exhibit displayed in Parker Hall.

ShannonCurtis Shannon, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the inaugural recipient of the Andrew T. Hunt Professor of Chemistry. Shannon earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from California State University, Fullerton, where he conducted undergraduate research on the thermodynamics of photoisomerization in the laboratory of John Olmsted. He moved to Austin, Texas, to pursue a doctorate in analytical chemistry under the direction of Alan Campion. His dissertation research focused on using Raman scattering to study molecules adsorbed on electrode surfaces. He did a postdoctoral stint at the Fritz- Haber-Institut in Berlin, Germany, working with Bruno Pettinger and the 2007 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Gerhardt Ertl. His research centered on the use of Raman spectroscopy and second harmonic generation to study adsorbed molecules. Shannon returned to the U.S. in 1990 and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Art Hubbard’s lab at the University of Cincinnati, where he studied electrochemical interfaces using surface spectroscopies. In 1991, Shannon joined the faculty at Auburn University. His research focus is on the electrosynthesis of solid-state materials and on the development of electrochemical sensors.

StanburyThe inaugural recipient of the Dr. J. Milton Harris Endowed Professorship is David M. Stanbury, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He received a bachelor’s in chemistry from Duke University in 1974, graduating magna cum laude. After obtaining his doctorate in chemistry at the University of Southern California, he studied as a postdoctoral affiliate at Stanford University with Nobel Prize winner Henry Taube. After teaching for several years at Rice University, he moved to Auburn as an associate professor in 1987. He received a Sloan Fellowship in 1992 and was promoted to professor in 1994. Stanbury has served as a program officer at the National Science Foundation, has had sabbatical appointments at the California Institute of Technology and University of Washington, and has served on the editorial advisory boards of the International Journal of Chemical Kinetics and BioInorganic Reaction Mechanisms, an international chemistry journal. He was appointed an Alumni Professor at Auburn in 1993, and he received the COSAM Dean’s Faculty Research Award in 2000. He has published more than 75 papers and book chapters, and he has received research funding from the National Science Foundation for more than 20 years. Stanbury’s publications have been cited in more than 1,800 scientific publications, and his research has consistently focused on the mechanisms of inorganic redox reactions in solution, with an emphasis on reaction rates, free radicals and reaction energetics. His current research focuses on electron-transfer reactions of sulfur compounds and the efficient conversion of oxygen to hydrogen peroxide and water. He has taught thousands of students in introductory chemistry, senior inorganic chemistry, and several graduate courses in inorganic chemistry. A distinctive feature of Stanbury’s teaching approach is an emphasis on understanding the observational basis for the concepts and “facts” of chemistry.

TamTin-Yau Tam, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was named the Lloyd and Sandra Nix Endowed Professor. Tam received both his bachelor of science and his doctorate from the University of Hong Kong. He joined the Auburn University faculty in 1988 and since that time, has accumulated numerous honors and awards including being named SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellow for 2009-10 and Outstanding Graduate Mentor in 2011. He has consistently secured grant funding, collaborated on numerous international projects, organized conferences and overseen five master’s students and six doctoral students. Tam teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at Auburn, and his research interests are in algebraic structures and classification, problem solving involving analytical and algebraic techniques, and representation theory and their applications. He is on the editorial board of several mathematical journals including the Journal of Linear and Multilinear Algebra and the Electronic Journal of Linear Algebra. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Linear Algebra Society and a member of the Mathematical Association of America, has approximately 80 published works, and has served COSAM as the director of assessment and planning and the university as a whole as special assistant to the provost. He also serves as the chair of the University Scholarship Committee and the Administrator Evaluation Committee.

ThomasEdward Thomas, physics professor and the director of the Plasma Sciences Lab, is the inaugural recipient of the Lawrence C. Wit Professorship, established by alumni and friends of the college to honor Lawrence Wit, associate dean emeritus. Thomas received his bachelor of science in physics from Florida Institute of Technology in 1989, and his master’s in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993. In 1996, he received his doctorate in physics from Auburn. Thomas left Auburn but was soon recruited back, this time to serve as a physics faculty member in COSAM. He is the recent recipient of a $2.1 million National Science Foundation grant that is enabling him to build a magnetized dusty plasma device used for studying the complex interactions between neutral atoms, ions, electrons, and charged microparticles in a fully magnetized plasma environment in which the magnetic force is comparable to other forces acting on the particles. This new experiment allows laboratory investigations of phenomena relevant to plasma physics, astrophysics, fusion, and fluid systems under conditions that were previously inaccessible in earlier experiments.

HalanychKen Halanych, alumni professor and coordinator of the marine biology program in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the inaugural recipient of the Stewart W. Schneller Chair, established by alumni and friends of the college to honor Stewart Schneller, former dean of COSAM and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Halanych received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Wake Forest University in 1988, followed by a doctorate in biology from the University of Texas in 1994. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University, University of Pretoria (South Africa), and Rutgers University. His research focuses on the molecular systematics, phylogeography, and evolution of marine invertebrates. He is also active in research pertaining to the environmental impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, he has authored close to 80 articles, and his work has garnered more than $4.5 million in grant funding. He is the co-director of the Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies, the 2010 Dean’s Faculty Research Award winner, and a recipient of the 2006 Auburn University Alumni Professor Award. He is also a program committee member for Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

RodgerChris Rodger, associate dean for research and graduate studies for COSAM, is the inaugural recipient of the Don Logan Chair in Mathematics. Rodger is the recipient of a wide range of awards and accolades, including: the 2006 Scharnagel Professorship; the 2008 Auburn University Outreach Award; and the Hall Medal, given by the Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications. Rodger holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Sydney, Australia, and a doctorate from the University of Reading, England. A COSAM faculty member for more than 25 years, he has received numerous grants for his outreach work and was among the six principal investigators on a $9 million National Science Foundation grant for the program, “Transforming East Alabama Mathematics,” or “TEAM- Math.” The purpose of TEAM-Math was to improve mathematics education in 14 local and regional school districts. As associate dean, Rodger leads continuing efforts to assist faculty with grant opportunities and proposal development, and he maintains contract records for the college. He also promotes and develops multidisciplinary research initiatives across Auburn’s campus.