Kenneth Halanych, alumni professor and former coordinator of the marine biology program in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the inaugural recipient of the Stewart W. Schneller Chair, which was established by friends, alumni, students and colleagues in honor of Schneller. A dinner was held recognizing Halanych and Stewart Schneller, former dean of COSAM, on Nov. 5, 2012.
Halanych received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Wake Forest University in 1988, followed by a doctorate in biology from the University of Texas in 1994. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University, University of Pretoria in South Africa, and Rutgers University. His research focuses on the molecular systematics, phylogeography and evolution of marine invertebrates. He is also active in research pertaining to the environmental impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To date, he has authored close to 80 articles in publications, and his work has garnered more than $4.5 million in grant funding. He is the co-director of the Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies, the 2010 Dean’s Faculty Research Award winner, and a recipient of the 2006 Auburn University Alumni Professor Award. He is also a program committee member for Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
Schneller, professor of chemistry, came to Auburn University in 1994 after a distinguished tenure at the University of South Florida, where he served as chair of the Department of Chemistry. During his 16 years as dean of COSAM, Schneller’s influence was profound and far-reaching. Some notable achievements include: a 65-percent increase in undergraduate enrollment from 2000 to 2009; an increase in undergraduate scholarships awarded annually from zero to nearly $900,000; the establishment of a flourishing K-12 outreach program; the establishment of faculty awards for teaching, research, outreach and advising, along with an annual undergraduate honors convocation; and the conception and construction of the $40 million, state-of-the-art Sciences Center complex.
Schneller continues to direct research in antiviral drug design and discovery, a program that has attracted more than $15 million from federal agencies. A prolific writer, he has authored more than 135 papers in professional literature, 60 invited papers worldwide and has made in excess of 500 presentations at various professional meetings. Twenty-eight postdoctoral associates have spent time in his laboratories, along with four professors who used their sabbatical leaves to do so. He merged teaching and research by directing the doctorate dissertation and master’s research of nearly forty students, and the undergraduate research of countless others, including several honors theses.