Bohannan named Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences has named biologist Brendan Bohannan the James F. and Shirley K. Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The prestigious appointment recognizes a faculty member who has both a distinguished research profile and a deep commitment to undergraduate education.

Bohannan, a professor in the Department of Biology and a core faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program, has helped establish two research centers on campus: the Biology and the Built Environment Center and the Microbial Ecology and Theory of Animals Center for Systems Biology.

His research focuses on the diversity of microbial life, particularly the causes and consequences of microbial biodiversity, the ways in which microbes affect, or are affected by, climate change, and how they affect human health. His work has been published in the journals Nature, Science, Public Library of Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and many others.

“Brendan’s publication record is not only prolific, but reaches broadly across a diverse range of venues and collaborators,” said Bruce Blonigen, Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences. “His scholarly record is truly outstanding.”

A Google Science Communication Fellow, Bohannan is also involved in multi-institutional efforts in South America and Africa to study soil microbes  and how they relate to global warming as causes or consequences.

The recipient of the Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences must be a senior distinguished faculty member who has a demonstrated commitment to undergraduate education, and the chairholder must agree to continue to teach undergraduate courses. In recognition of his teaching at the UO, Bohannan has previously been awarded a Williams Fellowship and a Wulf Professorship.

“Brendan’s dedication and substantial involvement in undergraduate education is very evident from his longstanding instruction of the honors biology course and the substantial number of undergraduates he has advised over the years,” Blonigen said. “This commitment to undergraduate education stood out in his selection for this chair.”

“I am very honored to be named the James F. and Shirley K. Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences and am grateful to the Rippeys for their generosity to our university,” Bohannan said.  “I share their passion for the liberal arts and sciences and feel strongly that the most important and lasting impact I can have as a scholar is through teaching our students to read critically, write cogently and think synthetically.” 

Bohannan joined the UO in 2006 after eight years on the faculty at Stanford University. Among his numerous research grants is a recent $7.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for his work with biologists Karen Guillemin and Judith Eisen and biophysicist Raghuveer Parthasarathy to study the potential health benefits of bacteria.

He has also recently collaborated with Nicolae Morar, assistant professor of philosophy and environmental studies, to publish a paper and give a public talk on the concepts scientists use to think about the human microbiome and how it relates to health and wellness. 

By Lisa Raleigh, College of Arts and Sciences