Lucian Chair

The Lucian Chair is named after Brother Lucian Blersch, CSC, who was Professor of Engineering at St. Edward’s from 1938 until his retirement in 1971. He died in 1986. The endowment given in his name has provided support for purchases of science equipment in the Natural Sciences and continues to do so. In addition, a Natural Sciences professor is designated as Lucian Chair or Professor and receives support from the endowment for research endeavors. Currently, the Lucian Chair also organizes a seminar which brings noted scientists to campus and which highlights research in an area of the Natural Sciences.

2019- Lucian Chair: Dr. Trish Baynham

Dr. Trish Baynham received a BS in Biology from Presbyterian College and a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Wake Forest University College of Medicine.  Her research projects with undergraduates have involved studying gene regulation in the gram negative bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the microbiology of food safety.  More recently, she has introduced course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) into her courses. In microbiology, one CURE allows students to search for new antimicrobial substances while analyzing globally sourced plant extracts.  Upper level research students continue this work as they seek to determine the target of these substances.  She is a member of the American Society for Microbiology, serving on the Committee on Minority Education and co-organizing the Spring Texas Branch Meeting.  She is a fellow of the Texas Academy of Science.

2010-16 Lucian Professor: Dr. Eamonn Healy

Eamonn Healy received his doctorate in Chemistry from UT–Austin. The general focus of his research involves the use of molecular modeling to design structure-activity probes for the purpose of elucidating enzymatic activity. Recent targets have included HIV-1 integrase, the c-Kit and src-abl proteins associated with tumor development and certain leukemias, and the metalloproteinases associated with the shedding of chemokine CXCL16. Healy’s group has also developed in silico characterizations of the mechanism of action of the Mtb alpha-crystallin protein, and models for the heat shock response of Escherichia coli and for the observed suppression of spinocerebellar ataxia by human alphaB-crystallin.

2006-2009 Lucian Professor: Dr. Allan Hook

Allan Hook earned his BS in Biology from the University of Maine, where he became enamored with insects. From Maine, Hook worked with a specialist on solitary wasps at the University of Georgia, earning an MS in Entomology. He went on to study under the world’s foremost wasp biologist at Colorado State University, focusing his doctoral research on the evolution of nest-sharing in solitary wasps with field work done in Australia, Big Bend and in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. He spent three years as a lecturer in Zoology at UT–Austin before accepting a position in Biology at St. Edward’s University in 1988. Hook’s research focused on the behavior and biodiversity of solitary wasps in Texas and in the Neotropics, having spent two sabbaticals working primarily in Trinidad, West Indies. His longstanding interest in entomology led to three species being named for him. He was a fellow in the Texas Academy of Science.

2001-2005 Lucian Professor: Dr. Jean McKemie

Professor of Mathematics Jean McKemie developed and organized the first Lucian Symposium.  She worked on geometric function theory. “Imagine you have an airplane that you’re designing,” she explained. “What shape should your wing surface be to minimize friction? If you don’t have a particularly nice shape to work with, like an awkward airplane wing, you might apply one of the functions I study, and it transforms the entire geometry of the problem. You take the awkward geometry, transform it to the easy geometry, solve the problem and then carry your answer back.” McKemie made her work sound simple, but the types of problems she tackled could take years to solve. Once she solved a problem, she had no idea how or when other researchers might use it. “I solve problems because they interest me,” she used to say.

1982-1996 Lucian Professor: Brother Daniel Lynch, CSC

The first designated Lucian Professor was Brother Daniel Lynch, CSC, a prominent biologist who taught and conducted research at St. Edward’s from 1954 until his retirement in 1996.  Brother Daniel wrote a field guide, Native and Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin and the Hill Country, used in botany classes at St. Edward’s and other Texas universities for many years. His education included an AB in English from the University of Detroit in 1943, an M.S. in Botany from Michigan State University in 1948 and a PhD in Botany from Washington State University in 1952. He became a Brother of Holy Cross in 1954, the same year he came to St. Edward’s University to teach biological science. In addition to his teaching duties, Brother Daniel was rector of Holy Cross and Premont Halls and Director of the St. Edward’s Alumni Association. Brother Daniel was widely known in the Austin environmental community and was consulted as an expert in the efforts to save the historic Treaty Oak after it was poisoned. He was elected to a fellowship in the Texas Academy of Science and served as vice chairman of the Citizens Board of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality of the City of Austin.He was Professor Emeritus of Biology at the time of his death in 1997.

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