Geneticist Mackay Named Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair

Trudy Mackay, Department of Biological Sciences

The College of Sciences has named Trudy Mackay of the Department of Biological Sciences as a Goodnight Innovation Distinguished Chair. The professorship was made possible by a gift from longtime NC State supporters Jim and Ann Goodnight.

Mackay is a prominent geneticist who joined the NC State faculty in 1987. Her groundbreaking work focuses on the genetic and environmental factors affecting variation in complex traits, characteristics that can be tied to one or more genes in an organism. Her signature project is the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, a collection of more than 200 fruit fly lines that hundreds of researchers around the world use in their work.

The ability to recruit and retain faculty through the creation of endowed positions is one of NC State’s Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign priorities.

“Supporting the important work of great scientists like Trudy Mackay is a priority for our college,” said Bill Ditto, dean of the College of Sciences. “The generosity of the Goodnights helps us make the college a place where these researchers — and the students who learn from them —have the freedom to explore new frontiers in science.”

Mackay’s research is funded by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health, and she has been awarded more than $53 million in research grants over the course of her career. She has authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific publications and delivered hundreds of invited research presentations.

In 2016, Mackay became the first NC State faculty member to win a Wolf Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious awards in science. Her other awards include the Genetics Society of America medal, the O. Max Gardner Award from the University of North Carolina system, the North Carolina Award for Science and the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society.

Jim Goodnight, a College of Sciences alumnus, is CEO and a co-founder of SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company. SAS emerged from NC State’s Department of Statistics when Goodnight was on its faculty in the 1970s. Ann Goodnight, a 1968 College of Humanities and Social Sciences graduate, is the senior director of community relations at SAS. She is a member of the NC State Board of Trustees and the Friday Institute National Advisory Board. The Goodnights are generous supporters of the College of Sciences and the university, establishing several professorships, the Goodnight Scholars Program and serving as co-chairs of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign for NC State.

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