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Dr. David Dixon

As an established endowed chair, David utilizes his time to enhance the learning experiences of his students and fellow faculty members.

In 2004, Dr. David Dixon received an opportunity he couldn’t refuse — to become the Robert Ramsay Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“I was previously working at a national laboratory and simply because of the cost there, you’re limited in the extent of the research you can pursue,” he said. “One of the main reasons I came to the University was the offer of the endowed chair. I could pursue a broader range of research topics.”

David’s research primarily focuses on developing computational chemistry approaches on advanced computer systems and then applying them to address a range of important national problems, particularly regarding energy and the environment.

This research involves not only the use of the University’s high-performance computing labs, but also graduate and undergraduate students. Due to the allowances of the endowed chair appointment, David is able to step back from teaching during the spring semester each year to spend more time conducting research and working alongside his students.

“We usually have 10-15 undergraduate students in the research group, and I’m able to spend more time with them because I’m not specifically teaching a course during the spring.”

This time granted through his endowment has translated into success for both David and his students.

“My students have their own research projects, and undergraduate students can submit to research publications,” he said. “I have between 45-50 undergraduate publications that include research with undergraduate co-authors in the time I’ve been here since 2004.”

In addition to teaching several undergraduate courses, David is creating a course completely from scratch to benefit his graduate students.

“Right now, I’m developing and teaching CHEM 519, which is a brand-new graduate course in physical and analytical chemistry,” David said. “Its purpose is to bring all of our graduate students up to the same level, because they come from very, very different backgrounds.” Endowed faculty and chair positions, such as David’s, develop our students into influential leaders in their fields of study. The Rising Tide will increase our number of endowed chairs and professorships, providing a distinct advantage to our already prestigious status, streamlining the path to attract and retain the type of top talent that drives learning both in and outside of classrooms.

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