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Meet three scientists recently appointed to endowed chairs

Three members of the Dartmouth faculty-experts in materials science, medical imaging technology and cancer therapeutics, and polar regions-have recently been appointed to existing or newly endowed chairs.

  • Ian Baker, professor of engineering sciences, is the new holder of the Sherman Fairchild Professorship in Engineering.
  • Keith Paulsen, professor of engineering sciences, is the inaugural holder of the Robert A. Pritzker Chair in Biomedical Engineering.
  • Ross Virginia, professor of environmental studies, is the inaugural holder of the Myers Family Professorship.

Dartmouth's endowed professorships represent the College's and the donors' shared commitment to honor and support the work of the scholars who hold them.

Ian Baker

The Sherman Fairchild Professor of Engineering

bakerIan Baker (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
The Fairchild professorship recognizes a senior faculty member in engineering who has achieved a high level of professional stature and a distinguished record in research, scholarship, teaching and mentoring of graduate students, and service to Thayer School. "It is good to have the recognition from Thayer School and my peers," says Baker. While the chair, he notes, "largely recognizes my research," Baker counts "nearly 40 graduate students" among the Thayer students he has mentored.

Baker's scholarship focuses on both metals and ice. His most recent initiative involves the development of iron nanoparticles for cancer treatment. Additional ongoing projects in metals research include developing both a new series of high-strength spinodal alloys and novel permanent magnet materials.

Ian Baker and Keith Paulsen have both been speakers in Thayer School's Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society.

Click here to view Baker's lecture.

Click here to view Paulsen's lecture.

He is also analyzing ice core specimens from Greenland and Antarctica. "Our ultimate goal is to be able to completely characterize an ice core specimen," he says. "In particular, understanding the nature and location of impurities in these specimens can help explain both the electrical and mechanical properties of ice. We are just now developing the techniques to do that at really fine scales and in three dimensions.

"I chose the field of materials science because I liked physics, chemistry, and math, and it was a good way to combine all three," he continues. "Now, I investigate the relationship between properties and microstructure, using electron microscopy to reveal what's happening at smaller and smaller scales."

Baker obtained both his B.A. and D. Phil. in metallurgy and science of materials from Oxford University. He joined the Thayer faculty in 1982 and has served as both chair of the Engineering Sciences Department and director of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs, and currently serves as the senior associate dean for academic affairs.

The chair was established in 1980 with a gift from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. Fairchild was a pioneer in photography, aviation, and sound engineering. Previous Fairchild Professors were John Strohbehn, inaugural holder from 1983 to 1987, and Graham Wallis, who held the chair from 1987 until 2008.

Keith Paulsen

The Robert A. Pritzker Professor of Biomedical Engineering

paulsonKeith Paulsen (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)
Paulsen is a leading innovator of medical imaging technology and cancer therapeutics, primarily for the breast and brain. Along with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues, he has worked for more than 20 years to advance clinical science through the merging of engineering modeling methodology with an array of imaging techniques.

The Pritzker chair recognizes faculty scholarship at the intersection of engineering and medicine. Paulsen is the inaugural holder.

"My strongest academic and intellectual suits turn out to be in the engineering sciences," remarks Paulsen. "That said, I find nothing more fascinating than the way the human body works. In particular, the pathways through which diseases develop, the body's response to the onset and presence of disease, and the challenges in identifying and treating diseases are rich with opportunities to apply engineering methods and principles."

In addition to his primary appointment at Thayer, Paulsen is also professor of radiology at Dartmouth Medical School, director of the Dartmouth Advanced Imaging Center at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and co-director of the Cancer Imaging and Radiobiology Research Program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Paulsen received his B.S. in biomedical engineering from Duke and his Ph.D. from Dartmouth.

Paulsen notes, "The Pritzker family has a long history of supporting the biomedical sciences. To include engineering explicitly as one of those sciences shows, in my opinion, remarkable foresight on their part in supporting a discipline that will give rise to many of the next generation of health care solutions."

Tony Pritzker '82 and his wife, Jeanne, endowed the professorship in honor of Tony's uncle Robert Pritzker. A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Robert Pritzker created The Marmon Group, an international association of businesses.

Ross Virginia

The Myers Family Professorship

virginiaRoss Virginia (Photo courtesy Ross Virginia)
"The Myers family and I share a concern for the sustained health of our ecosystems and the importance of institutions like Dartmouth for developing the knowledge needed to restore damaged lands," says Virginia. He is the inaugural holder of the Myers professorship, which is intended for a faculty member whose scholarship and teaching focuses on environmental science. Virginia is also professor of environmental studies and director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding's Institute of Arctic Studies.

Virginia's research includes ground-breaking work on desertification; the effects of climate change in Antarctica; and the interrelations between environmental law, policy, and culture in polar regions.

"The most rewarding part of my position is creating opportunities for students to go into the field and then share in their passion for finding solutions to environmental problems," says Virginia, noting that resources from the endowed chair will allow him to support more student participation in research.

"I've been fortunate to have Dartmouth students come to Antarctica with me for research in the polar desert ecosystem called the dry valleys. Our work," he explains, "is focused on how human accelerated climate change is altering this simple ecosystem where life on earth exists near its limits."

Since arriving at Dartmouth in 1992, Virginia has played a key role in the growth of the Environmental Studies Program, which he chaired from 1992 to 2000. From 1997 to 2004, Virginia was the Albert Bradley '15 Third Century Professor in the Sciences. In 2005 he received the Graduate Faculty Mentor Award from the Dartmouth College Graduate Student Association.

Virginia received his B.S. from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California-Davis in Ecology, and has an honorary A.M. from Dartmouth.

The Myers professorship is funded by gifts from Susan and F. Gibson "Gib" Myers '64. "We have a long-standing interest in the environment and are delighted to have the opportunity to support the work of Ross Virginia," says Gib Myers. "We're pleased that an individual of his academic caliber has been selected for this professorship."

Complied by KELLY SEAMAN


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Last Updated: 3/2/09