Two professors in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University are the first to receive new endowed professorships established by Regions Financial Corporation.
Associate Professor Brian Via is the Regions Professor in Forest Products, and Professor Tom Gallagher is the Regions Professor in Forest Operations, Utilization, Management and Economics.
The recently designated professorships will be awarded every five years to associate or full professors who demonstrate a strong commitment to students and the provision of high quality instruction, research and service.
Both accomplished researchers, Via’s research focuses on forest product development from either bioenergy and/or biobased processes while Gallagher specializes in industrial forestry, timber harvesting and transportation of forest biomass.
As a major owner and manager of forest land in Alabama, Regions has a vested interest in maintaining a robust forest products industry, which contributes more than $15 billion annually to the state’s economy. With the creation of the professorships, Regions has partnered with the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences to ensure that the forest industry continues to be developed through strong research and education programs at Auburn University.
“Staying on the leading edge is important to the thousands of private forest landowners in Alabama,” said Don Heath, Regions senior vice president of natural resources and real estate. “Having an exemplary academic program at Auburn University can help us achieve and maintain that leading edge in forest products development.”
The Regions professorships are designed to strengthen and enhance the university’s programs through the quality of the faculty members’ work and their ability to serve as positive role models for their colleagues and students. They must have a record of distinguished academic or professional work in their field of study in comparison to their colleagues at peer institutions.
“Our faculty are cutting-edge in terms of forestry enterprise and product innovation,” said School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Dean Janaki Alavalapati. “In addition to this important research, our efforts to develop leaders to serve these industries will assure the sustainability and growth of Alabama’s economy, both in timber sales and employment.”