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.
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.
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.
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.
Thomas Lord, LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar, Chemistry
How It Helps: With this generous support, I will be able to pursue research ideas that are difficult to fund using federal grants. My laboratory is starting to explore some high-risk, high-gain research opportunities in the area of antimicrobial process and new-to-nature enzymatic reactions development.
Why I’m Grateful: I really appreciate the support. It is an important recognition for my colleagues, including undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs who have come through my research group. I truly appreciate Parker Lord for providing resources to help support promising young researchers in my laboratory.
LeRoy B. Martin, Jr. Distinguished Professor, Mathematics
How It Helps: There are so many ways that the professorship helps. I definitely see it as an opportunity to expand our networking and foster new collaborations, which opens the door for more possibilities. Funds from the professorship will help to propel research and allow for more flexibility and creativity and will better enable me to support graduate students, which has always been a top priority for me. Taking some of the financial pressure off their plates will free up their time and allow them to be devoted to the important research that we are doing.
Why I’m Grateful: I am grateful because I love what I do, but to have my work recognized in this way is really a special honor. I’m proud to be able to carry on the legacy of Professor Martin and represent what he stood for in the department. He and Tom Banks, who was the first to be named the Leroy B. Martin, Jr. Distinguished Professor, had great reputations as educators and applied mathematicians, and to follow in their footsteps and encourage others is truly significant.
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 students.
Goodnight Distinguished Professor, Statistics
How It Helps: The professorship makes a tremendous difference by allowing a lot of academic freedom. I will now be able to pursue newer research territories and seek answers to deeper questions. Because of this professorship, I can offer more student support, organize subject-specific seminars and invite speakers and collaborators from outside of the triangle area to work with me and my students.
Why I’m Grateful: The professorship is the best possible recognition for a faculty member from the university and acknowledges my contributions to research, teaching, and service. It increases my visibility among the scientific community and gives me academic freedom to pursue my research goals.
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.
Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair, Biological Sciences
How It Helps: The professorship has been instrumental in accelerating my research. For one, I’m able to have two hard-working doctorate students generating preliminary data. This data has enabled me to bypass the National Institutes of Health R21 funding mechanism and quickly fund ideas that come up in the course of my research, as well as submit applications for much larger, investigator-initiated research grants.
Why I’m Grateful: I am grateful for the flexibility of the resources provided with the Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair professorship. For example, in the last year, I have led intriguing research on early epigenetic perturbations that contribute to metabolic and neurological disorders later in life. This peer-reviewed work has resulted in an invitation to collaborate with the University of Adelaide in Australia. The professorship has enabled me to travel to Australia to 1) give a lecture and 2) write a research proposal that will be funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the professorship also comes with a lot of prestige, for which I am grateful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Howard J. Schaeffer Distinguished Professor, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alumni Distinguished Professor in 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.
Goodnight Distinguished Scholar in Molecular Characterization
How It Helps: The professorship enables the pursuit of new ideas and international collaboration that are not yet funded. True innovation is usually achieved by pursuing new, not-fully-fleshed-out ideas. It’s typically difficult to obtain funding for such ideas because grant reviewers cannot fully grasp and appreciate them due to a lack of preliminary data to show that the idea is viable. Support from the professorship gives my lab the flexibility to take on more risk. Moreover, the funds allow the trainees in my lab to participate in more national and international collaboration, which isn’t typical with usual grant mechanisms. Simply put, the professorship provides the needed flexibility for sustained impact in science.
Why I’m Grateful: I’m honored and grateful for the recognition of the hard work of the students and trainees in the lab who push the boundaries of science every day. The professorship allows me to give them additional support and more personal and professional development opportunities, such as sending them to symposia and funding travel for collaborations across the globe.
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.
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.
Hugh C. Lord, LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar, Chemistry
How It Helps: The professorship will have a positive impact on the Department of Chemistry’s research program and increase our rate for recruiting top students into our graduate program. The funds will also help secure external funding by collecting preliminary results for highly innovative research ideas. Moreover, the funds help my students attend conferences and meetings to disseminate new knowledge and exchange ideas.
Why I’m Grateful: It is an honor to receive the Hugh C. LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar professorship, which provides a great platform to achieve future ambitious goals. The professorship represents the university’s recognition of my accomplishments and those of the tenacious undergraduate and graduate students in my group.