Our Professorships

Professorships honor College of Sciences faculty who are leading the way in research, teaching and creativity. These endowed positions provide top faculty with funds and freedom to go beyond their everyday work and imagine the extraordinary.

Meet our professorship holders, and find out how philanthropic support enhances what they do.


Harald Ade

Harald Ade
Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Professor, Physics

How It Helps: The recognition allows me to recruit better students and postdocs. This is vital, as these are the boots on the ground that really do the work. The recognition also improves the opportunities for and success rate in attracting additional external resources. Most important, funding from the endowment allows me to be driven by curiosity and ingenuity and take risks — to tackle new projects and test new ideas that are too challenging or too preliminary to be funded in a risk-averse funding environment.

Why I’m Grateful: I am grateful because the funding allows me to be more productive with my research and to focus on putting together a first-rate Carbon Electronics cluster.


Jerry Bernholc

Jerry Bernholc
Drexel Professor of Physics

How It Helps: Because of this professorship, I have been able to give important invited talks at conferences, purchase high-speed networking equipment and recruit high-quality students. It also enables me to offer partial funding to support graduate students and their research.

Why I’m Grateful: This professorship is a substantial asset in helping me earn recognition from others in my field, recruit students, interact with high-performance computing companies, and participate in external review and oversight boards, funding agency reviews and so forth. It also helps in attracting funding and in-kind support from government agencies and laboratories, as well as industry.


Phil Castellano

Felix (Phil) Castellano
Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair, Chemistry

How It Helps: With these resources, I will be able to expand our spectroscopic laboratory infrastructure, enabling new capabilities in ultrafast laser science at NC State. The funds will allow graduate students to attend additional scientific conferences and help support international collaborations. This professorship will enable partial support of doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships in the future.

Why I’m Grateful: I consider this an amazing professional honor that recognizes the accumulated achievements of my research group over the past 19 years.


Marie Davidian

Marie Davidian
J. Stuart Hunter Distinguished Professor, Statistics

How It Helps: The professorship allows me to purchase new equipment and supplement existing grants to better benefit students. I am able to provide funding for my graduate students to travel to conferences and expose undergraduate students to new areas of research.

Why I’m Grateful: The professorship itself is an enormous honor. It brings you some satisfaction to know your work has been recognized as worthy of this. I’ve had 26 Ph.D. students over my career, and I hope I have had a positive impact on their lives. It enables me to really help studen


Ruoying He, Goodnight Innovation Distinguished ProfessorRuoying He
Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Professor, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences

How It Helps: This support allows me to actively pursue new ideas, develop new research initiatives, and further broaden collaborations and networks for my research program. It also enables me to recruit talented students and postdocs to NC State and to help them grow and succeed professionally.

Why I’m Grateful: It means a great deal to me to receive this special recognition from the university. The named professorship provides valuable support and opportunities for further development of my research program and for members of our team.


Tim Kelley

Tim Kelley
Drexel Professor of Mathematics

How It Helps: This funding helps me keep my computers up-to-date and supports my research collaboration with Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It also subsidizes my travel, as well as travel for students. Without the Drexel funding, my students would not be able to travel to ​all ​the conferences they need to attend. This year, for example, I’m taking my students to the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering. The Drexel funds are supporting half of that expense.

Why I’m Grateful: I’m very pleased with the university’s recognition of my work. The funding enables me to do things for my students that make it easier to attract the best students in our program. The students know I have the budget for travel, computer repair and any books they need, and they share that with other students who are looking for an adviser. I’m able to be very selective when I look for new students. This has made a significant impact on the research from these projects and the job opportunities for the students who work on them.


Eric Laber

Eric Laber
Goodnight Distinguished Professor, Statistics

How It Helps: This professorship allows me to support outreach projects that are difficult to fund through more traditional sources, including some of our educational videos and internship programs for middle and high school students. Funds through the professorship also allow us to to quickly pilot high-risk/high-reward research projects without having to wait for traditional funding mechanisms, which can take years. Consequently, our research lab is more agile, and our work is more impactful.

Why I’m Grateful: I am immensely grateful for this professorship because of the impact it has had on our outreach and research programs.


Jonathan Lindsey

Jonathan Lindsey
Glaxo Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry

How It Helps: I have used these funds to cover items that federal grants do not support, including travel (to develop collaborations and disseminate knowledge) and purchasing laboratory items for research, and to explore new areas of science. For example, I am collaborating with Eric Miller of NC State’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology to explore the biosynthesis and function of novel natural products with unprecedented structures.

Why I’m Grateful: I am proud to hold the Glaxo chair. The annual allotment is crucial to launch the new projects I am embarking on that I expect to carry out over the next 30 years.


Alun Lloyd

Alun Lloyd
Drexel Professor of Mathematics

How It Helps: The professorship has allowed me to travel to meet new potential collaborators and to bring others to our campus. Given the interdisciplinary nature of my research, making these connections is vital to strengthening my research program. Existing grant funding — tied to specific projects — cannot be used for such trips, so I very much appreciate having access to funds that are not restricted to a specific project. The flexible funds provided by the professorship also allow me to send my graduate students to national and international meetings, which provide invaluable scientific and networking experiences for the students and enormously enrich their professional and scientific development.

Why I’m Grateful: Receiving the Drexel professorship was a great honor. It meant a great deal to receive recognition for my research accomplishments and contributions to graduate training. Having flexible funds opens up many possibilities for my research program and for my group: it offers possibilities to explore new avenues and create new collaborative connections and to provide opportunities for development of growth of myself and my students.


David Muddiman

David Muddiman
Jacob and Betty Belin Distinguished Professor, Chemistry

How It Helps: This professorship provides a lot of resources that allow us to do many different things, even at a moment’s notice. We’ve been able to pursue research and file two provisional patents with NC State. Furthermore, I’ve been able to put my students on the public stage to let them present their work and become the face of my research group.

Why I’m Grateful: It’s a really high honor to have a chaired professorship at any institution in any department. For me, it basically says that what I have been doing my entire career, working with students, mentoring students to help them become leaders, has been formally recognized with this named professorship.


Joshua PierceJoshua Pierce
Hugh C. Lord, LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar, Chemistry

How It Helps: With this generous support I will be able to propel our federally funded projects forward while having the flexibility to tackle new ambitious projects. Further, these funds will support travel to scientific meetings and engagement in professional development opportunities and networking events for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral group members. These resources will also enable expanded domestic and international collaborations that will bring important expertise to our research projects.

Why I’m Grateful: I am grateful for all of the efforts of previous and current group members, support of family and friends, and generosity of the donors to bring this recognition to our research program. I am excited to leverage these funds to enable significant discoveries at the chemistry-biology interface.


Brian ReichBrian Reich
Gertrude M. Cox Distinguished Professor, Statistics

How It Helps: The funds provide intellectual freedom to pursue ideas not supported by federal grants and to help recruit and support the graduate students who drive the research in my group.  Also, the travel funds allow me to solidify and expand my research network, which is critical in my fast-moving and interdisciplinary field.

Why I’m Grateful: It is an incredible honor to be given this special recognition. The named professorship deepens my connection with the university and provides valuable support to broaden my research program and train students and postdocs.


Thomas Schaefer

Thomas Schaefer
Wesley O. Doggett Distinguished Professor, Physics

How It Helps: The professorship provides resources that enable me to pursue new ideas off the beaten path that are difficult to fund using federal grants.

Why I’m Grateful: I am deeply grateful to the donors who endowed this professorship, and I am very honored to hold the position. I believe that endowed positions like this are a great tool to raise the profile of the department and the college and to attract the next generation of students, postdocs and faculty.


Rob Smart

Rob Smart
Goodnight Distinguished Chair in Molecular Toxicology

How It Helps: The Goodnight Distinguished Chair appointment allows me and my laboratory to explore some high-risk, high-gain research opportunities that would not be possible without these flexible funds. In addition, these funds help me support and mentor promising undergraduates in my lab as they help conduct research aimed at controlling cell fate decisions involving apoptosis in response to DNA damage and tumor stress.

Why I’m Grateful: I am extremely honored, humbled and grateful to be recognized by the university for my research accomplishments and for the contributions I have made to the university with respect to graduate education and mentoring and developing the Center for Human Health and the Environment. I am incredibly appreciative of the Goodnights for providing flexible resources to help support promising undergraduate students in my laboratory and to pursue some new avenues of research.


Chemist Alex Smirnov
Alex Smirnov
Governor Robert W. Scott Distinguished Professor, Chemistry

How It Helps: The professorship brings in flexible resources to expand my interdisciplinary research in magnetic resonance, nanomaterials, and biophysics of membranes and membrane proteins. It is extremely helpful in recruiting and supporting the brightest students and postdocs, starting new domestic and international collaborations and initiating new research projects that could be too risky or too preliminary for traditional grants. It also highlights the achievements of the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and the College of Sciences as a whole.

Why I’m Grateful: It is the highest honor for me to receive this professorship. I am truly grateful to all my colleagues and students who worked very hard and contributed enormously to the research achievements of my group over 18 years at NC State. I am proud to accept the responsibility of pushing research frontiers even further.


Leonard Stefanski

Leonard Stefanski
R.A. Fisher Distinguished Professor, Statistics

How It Helps: The Fisher professorship will allow me to provide additional support to graduate students and to pursue novel research ideas that might be too risky and not sufficiently well-developed to generate their own funding immediately. Thus I can be more adventuresome with my research agenda.

Why I’m Grateful: It’s always nice to be acknowledged. I’ve been on the faculty 30-plus years. During those years I’ve worked hard as a researcher, a teacher and an administrator, and in service to the profession. The professorship is acknowledgement of those many years of dedicated service and quality research. It is particularly rewarding because the Fisher professorship was made possible by the generosity of many alumni, to whom I am especially grateful.


John Thomas

John Thomas
John S. Risley Distinguished Professor, Physics

How It Helps: I run the JETlab group, which focuses on atom cooling and trapping. In this large research group, the endowed professorship provides tremendous flexibility needed to explore and play with new ideas. The discretionary funds are extremely helpful. I have used them to provide support for new students who might otherwise not be able to join the group and recently to give additional support to a postdoc who wants to obtain a green card. I’m able to buy equipment that I don’t have to ask for, and to do it quickly.

Why I’m Grateful: I really appreciate the support. The flexibility for me is really very important. We explore a wide variety of ideas, and it is really nice to be able to make quick important decisions. If I need something, I do it. I really appreciate what is being done. It is very special.


Gavin WilliamsGavin Williams
Thomas Lord, LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar, Chemistry

How It Helps: These resources help my students to attend conferences and work with our collaborators at the interface of chemistry, biology and engineering, where they can exchange new ideas and improve our science. The recognition accompanying the professorship helps advertise our research program and that of the department and to attract top students to our graduate program. Furthermore, the funds provide some flexibility to explore some high-risk/high-reward research ideas and gather preliminary data to secure external funding.

Why I’m Grateful: Receiving this professorship is an incredible and humbling honor. It means a lot to me that the university has recognized my accomplishments, but it’s also a huge recognition for all the hardworking undergraduate and graduate students who have come through my research group.


Fred Wright, Goodnight Innovation Distinguished ProfessorFred Wright
Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Professor, Statistics and Biological Sciences

How It Helps: The professorship enables me to pursue ideas and buy computing equipment not connected to an existing funded project. This support is incredibly useful while my group is generating ideas that are not yet mature enough to receive external funding. Additionally, I plan to use the funds to send students to national and international meetings to present their work. The flexibility magnifies all aspects of my research program.

Why I’m Grateful: I’m incredibly grateful and honored for the recognition of my work, for which I acknowledge the hard work of my collaborators and trainees over the years. Receiving the professorship also reflects well on the types of interdisciplinary research I do as a member of two departments.