• Series of ‘top recruits’ to fill Baylor’s new endowed chairs

    Drs. Julia Chan, Craig Gundersen, Henry Han, Brian Jordon, Alan Wang, and Aaron Wright

    Strong teams are great at recruiting, and Baylor has been blessed to land multiple “top recruits” in the university’s pursuit of excellence — not just in athletics or the student body, but among the faculty, as well.

    Last year, Baylor announced plans to hire multiple new endowed chair positions, many of which were made possible in part by the generosity of the Baylor Family through the Give Light campaign. Now, those positions have been filled by faculty who chose to come to Baylor from top institutions and laboratories across the country.

    Who are the newest endowed chair faculty? Let’s meet them:

    * Dr. Julia Chan (BS ’93) serves as the Tim and Sharalynn Fenn Family Endowed Chair in Materials Science. A 1993 Baylor grad, she has distinguished herself as an expert in quantum materials at LSU and UT Dallas while also serving as a deputy editor for the prestigious journal Science Advances.

    * Dr. Craig Gundersen is the Jim and Tammy Snee Family Chair in Food Security. A prominent food economist who comes to Baylor from the University of Illinois, Gundersen brings numerous impactful research projects and is based in the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.

    * Dr. Henry Han serves as the McCollum Family Chair in Data Sciences after coming to Baylor from Fordham University. An internationally recognized researcher, his work impacts fields as varied as genetics, health, finance, stock trading, and more, and he edited Recent Advances in Data Science, a leading research publication.

    * Dr. Brian Jordon joined Baylor from the University of Alabama to serve as the inaugural Kenneth and Celia Carlile Endowed Chair in Materials Science. He has built research partnerships with NASA, the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and various national and international industries.

    * Dr. Alan Wang was the first endowed chair hired through the Foster Academic Challenge, coming to Baylor from Oregon State to serve as the Mearse Chair in Biological and Biomedical Engineering. Among Wang’s inventions is a device described by Science Daily as “the world’s smallest electro-optic modulator.”

    * Dr. Aaron Wright joined Baylor this summer as the Schofield Endowed Chair in Biomedical Science. He previously served at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, and studies the interface of the microbiome and environmental factors that impact processes within the gut.

    What brought them all to Baylor? Each professor’s journey was distinct, but Baylor’s Christian mission played a key role — and thanks to Baylor’s investment in research that led to R1 status, they didn’t have to choose between a Christian university and a top research university. Baylor provided both, and — with the establishment of these endowed chairs — had prestigious positions that come with sustained funding to offer.

    So, whether you think of them as a top free agent signing, a five-star recruit, or simply as a great group of faculty who are a perfect fit to provide research and leadership, their presence will benefit Baylor and Baylor students — and perhaps set the bar for a new group of endowed chair positions that are open this year, and those coming in the future.

    Sic ’em, endowed chairs!