Three faculty members awarded newly endowed professorships

Published: Aug 5, 2015 3:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Gail Riese,, 334-844-3447

Faculty members Bryan Chin, Anton Schindler and Jorge Valenzuela have been appointed to three newly endowed professorships within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Supported through generous gifts from alumni and friends, these professorships are awarded to some of the college’s most outstanding faculty members who excel in research, teaching and service.

“These gifts allow us to attract and retain exceptional faculty who are advancing cutting-edge research within our college and engaging our students in real-world projects,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “We are extremely grateful to have generous donors who support the exceptional work of these dedicated researchers and faculty members.”

Bryan ChinChin, director of the Materials Research and Education Center and director of the Auburn University Detection and Food Safety Center, has been named the Daniel F. and Josephine Breeden Endowed Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

An Auburn faculty member in materials and mechanical engineering since 1981, he previously held the positions of alumni associate professor and McWane professor of materials engineering. He also served as the university’s associate vice president for research from 1992-2000. Chin earned a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Auburn and master’s and doctoral degrees in materials science and engineering from Stanford.

Chin’s research interests include the use of sensors to evaluate food safety and quality, microbial and viral pathogen detection, medical analysis, agriculture, nuclear reactors, coal-fired reactors, aerospace vehicles, automobiles and trucks and environmental degradation of materials. He is also interested in sensors used in applications to control manufacturing processes in additive manufacturing, robotic manipulation, welding, joining and soldering. Chin holds seven patents, has received $51 million in external research grants and maintained continuous funding with a minimum of three external grants since 1982. His research has led to more than 275 refereed publications, and in June 2015, his research team was selected as a finalist in the first U.S. FDA Food Safety Challenge. He has served as the principal adviser for nearly 100 doctoral and postdoctoral graduates and master’s degree students.

As the director and founder of the Detection and Food Safety Center, Chin leads a collaborative research team of 25 faculty members from 18 departments and five colleges. The center has received more than $18 million in direct USDA funding and more than $59 million in ancillary funding. More than 150 master’s degree and doctoral students have graduated with multidisciplinary training in microbiology, food safety, sensors and engineering. Through the center, 145 invention disclosures have been filed, 29 patents have been granted and six commercial products have been licensed and marketed.

Breeden, the namesake of the endowed professorship, is a 1957 graduate of Auburn’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and retired CEO of Rees Inc., a manufacturer of electromechanical industrial control switches. He has served on the Auburn University Foundation board, and he and his wife, Josephine, are members of the university’s 1856 Society and Auburn Engineering’s Ginn Society.

Anton SchindlerSchindler, director of the Highway Research Center, has been named the Mountain Spirit Endowed Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering.

Schindler has served in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering since 2002. He earned bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and structural engineering from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and a master’s degree in structural engineering and a doctoral degree in civil engineering, both from the University of Texas.

His scholarly activities have focused on the development of techniques to improve the sustainability and durability of structures built in the concrete industry. During his 13-year tenure at Auburn, he has secured more than $11 million in research funding. Schindler has developed innovative courses, technical sessions and national workshops that have provided effective concrete design and construction to students, teachers and engineers.

A recipient of numerous honors, Schindler previously held the position of Gottlieb professor. He has been awarded a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant and was recognized as a fellow of the American Concrete Institute in 2013 for outstanding contributions to concrete applications. He also received the Frank G. Erskine Award from the Expanded Shale Clay and Slate Institute and twice the Wason Medal for Concrete Materials Research from ACI. He has been honored for excellence in teaching with the William F. Walker Merit Teaching Award from the college and the Excellence in Teaching Award from Chi Epsilon.

Since becoming its director, Schindler has grown the Highway Research Center to become one of the largest centers within the college. The HRC’s funds are used to develop and sustain research programs that improve the highway system for the citizens of Alabama and to enhance the education of Auburn University students. At present, 15 researchers are working with students on 31 projects.

The Mountain Spirit Endowed Professorship awarded to Schindler was created through an initial gift by the Mountain Spirit Foundation and William F. and Patricia W. Hayes. An Auburn graduate, Hayes earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1965 and 1967, respectively. He has served on the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, and he and his wife, Patricia, are members of the university’s 1856 Society and Auburn Engineering’s Ginn and Keystone societies.

Jorge ValenzuelaValenzuela, chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has been named as the Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Endowed Distinguished Professor. An Auburn faculty member in industrial and systems engineering since 2000, he has earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Universidad Catolica del Norte in Chile, a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Universidad de Antofagasta in Chile and a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Universidad de Chile-Cienes in Chile. He also obtained a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Northern Illinois University and a doctoral degree in industrial engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Valenzuela has instructed numerous courses at Auburn and developed curricula in stochastic operations research and information technology. His research interests are in the field of energy modeling and analysis, which include a wide range of sciences from statistics, economics and optimization. He has secured more than $1.5 million in total research funding from peer reviewed federal programs including the Argonne National Laboratory, National Science Foundation and USDA Forest Service.

He was honored for excellence in teaching from the college with the William F. Walker Merit Teaching Award, the Outstanding Junior Faculty Research Award and twice with the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award.

Valenzuela has received funding from the National Science Foundation for a three-year Research Experiences for Undergraduates site grant at Auburn. This award provides funding for 30 engineering undergraduates from across the nation to spend the summer working with Auburn researchers. He has also developed a faculty-led study abroad program for engineering students in Valparaiso, Chile. He has chaired the energy, natural resources and environment section of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science and has been the colloquia chair and publicity chair for the institute.

The Philpott-WestPoint Stevens Endowment for Distinguished Professorship is created through a gift by the WestPoint Stevens Foundation in 1988.