2017 Newly Appointed Endowed Faculty

Endowed chairs and professorships support world-class faculty at Oregon State. Meet the newest holders of these positions below, and click on each to learn more about them and the donors whose generosity has permanently enhanced OSU's research and education enterprise.

These faculty members were among those honored at a special event on May 15, 2017.

Maret Traber
Maret Traber
I am working to solve a 100-year-old nutrition science problem! We know humans need vitamin E, but why is unknown. Our research shows how its absence causes cell function to go awry. We are now working on discovering the affected molecular mechanisms, so we can understand why cells die when they don’t have enough vitamin E.

Principal Investigator and Oxidative/Nitrative Stress Core Laboratory Director, Linus Pauling Institute
Professor, College of Public Health and Human Sciences

Faculty website

Ava Helen Pauling Chair

Ava Helen Pauling

A large portion of the funding for the Ava Helen Pauling Chair in the Linus Pauling Institute came from a gift that arrived as a complete surprise. In January 1998, a bank in Maine notified the OSU Foundation that a trust had been dissolved and that the Linus Pauling Institute would be receiving $1.2 million. The trust had been established by Orlo Williams, a small-town lawyer who once wrote to the institute, asking for health details he wished to give to a friend. The institute gladly sent him the requested material and a newsletter featuring the latest findings on nutrition research.

In the following years, Williams contributed a few hundred dollars annually to the institute. No one knew he had the desire or means to make such a large donation.

Institute leaders decided to use this generous unexpected gift to create its second endowed faculty position. Over the next three years, thousands of other donations came in from friends and supporters around the country, and in January 2001, the first Ava Helen Pauling Chair was appointed.

The institute decided to name the chair after Linus Pauling's wife "because she was of great importance to Linus Pauling, his scientific career, and his work opposing nuclear testing and promoting world peace," said director Balz Frei. "Pauling always felt she should have shared the Nobel Peace Prize with him. We are pleased to honor her memory with this endowment."


Sunil Khanna
Sunil Khanna
Through my research, I hope to contribute to rebuilding the trust and improving communication between patients and their health care providers: the core foundation of any health care delivery system. My ultimate goal is to improve health care access and utilization, enhance patient-provider communication and trust, and reduce racial/ethnic health inequities.

School Head, College of Public Health and Human Sciences

Faculty website

Robert & Sara Rothschild Endowed Chair in Global Health

Bob and Sara Rothschild

In the 1970s College of Engineering alumnus Bob Rothschild ’65 and his wife, Sara, moved from California to Ohio’s Mad River Valley, determined to work the land. Their spirited commitment resulted in a successful 170-acre farm and too many red raspberries to count. They decided to make preserves: an idea that launched the Robert Rothschild Farms line of gourmet foods.

Life’s journey took another meaningful turn in 2004 when the couple visited friends working in a Cape Town area settlement in South Africa. Moved by what they saw, the Rothschilds decided to help grow the community’s one-room library, and the next year Sara traveled to Botswana to participate in a Habitat for Humanity project. Experiences like these and the people they met inspired them to establish a family foundation that specializes in building libraries throughout rural Botswana. In gratitude, the Government of Botswana presented the couple with the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service in 2010. 

After moving to Corvallis, the Rothschilds reconnected with OSU through the track program, and have been steadfast supporters of the university’s mission and purpose to serve the world. Bob joined the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees in 2015, and Sara serves on the Community Advisory Council of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

In 2017 the Rothschilds joined their passions for OSU and global awareness by establishing an endowed faculty position in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. This individual supports international experiences for students related to global health: hands-on cross-cultural and community-based work opportunities for students in all disciplines across the university.

Todd Montgomery
Todd Montgomery
Our students at OSU-Cascades have all faced life’s challenges, and all are bettering their lives through OSU. I’ve worked in industry for over 20 years and taught in higher ed for over 10 years, and this is by far and away the most important and impactful thing I’ve ever done. Every successful project, course, internship, and job reinforces why I’m here.

Executive-in-Residence & Instructor, College of Business

Faculty website

Robin and Curt Baney Faculty Scholar Fund for Teaching Excellence in Hospitality Management

In 2016 a leading Oregon hotelier family made a gift establishing an endowed faculty scholar position within the recently launched hospitality management program at OSU-Cascades. The $500,000 gift was donated by Robin and Curt Baney, owners of Oxford Suites properties in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and the OXFORD hotel in Bend, the TripAdvisor #5 ranked U.S. Hotel for 2016.

We are thrilled to contribute to the statewide momentum that is pushing OSU-Cascades’ hospitality management program toward academic and practical excellence,” said Curt Baney, president and chief executive officer of Oxford Corporate.

The hospitality management program was created in response to overwhelming support from local and state hospitality leaders who sought a bachelor's degree program in order to develop a strong workforce while offering employees' professional development opportunities for Oregon's growing hospitality industry. Prior to the creation of the degree at OSU-Cascades, a bachelor's level hospitality management program had not existed in Oregon in over 20 years.

Students in the program study business management, service delivery and operations management, food and beverage operations, technology within the hospitality sector, and entrepreneurship. 

Sara Robinson
Sara Robinson
I delight in finding new ways to communicate the breadth of wood knowledge to students and the community. Whether through artwork, research, presentations,or writing science fiction books, I strive to make wood science relevant to everyone, especially those who might not otherwise consider the importance of this ubiquitous renewable material.

Assistant Professor, College of Forestry

Faculty website

Gene D. Knudson Forestry Chair

Gene Knudson

The Gene D. Knudson Forestry Chair was funded in December 2007 by a $1.5 million gift from the estate of Gene D. Knudson '39, a highly respected executive who helped build Willamette Industries into a national forestry products leader.

Knudson, who died in 1998, became president of Willamette Industries in 1970 and was board chairman from 1976 until his retirement in 1984. Under his leadership, the company's sales grew from $173 million to $1 billion. By the time Knudson stepped down as president in 1981, Willamette Industries was the nation's fifth-largest plywood maker.

An OSU honors graduate in technical forestry, Knudson was president of the OSU Foundation from 1981-83. He also served on the steering committee of the FourSight! Campaign, a major university effort to raise funds for four areas including funds for materials science research programs. Among other involvements, he served on the Oregon State Board of Forestry and on the board of directors for the Western Forestry Center, now the World Forestry Center.

Knudson received OSU's Distinguished Service Award in 1985. In nominating him for this award, Carl Stoltenberg, then dean of the College of Forestry, said, "Mr. Knudson has made generous and significant contributions through his behind-the-scenes sharing of managerial skills with public and nonprofit organizations. And although not as widely recognized, his quiet, generous sharing of personal resources has inspired many others to give similarly.... To every organization he has served, Gene Knudson brought leadership, respect, integrity, performance, and commitment."

Knudson's gifts supported several university programs including the Valley Library renovation and the OSU Research Council. The Knudson Chair was established to recognize and reward outstanding teaching, advising, and mentoring of undergraduate students, and visible leadership of undergraduate education.

Harriet Nembhard
Harriet Nembhard
My research involves engineering solutions to systems challenges in healthcare. My group is starting to explore how robotics and sensor technologies enable healthcare delivery systems that focus on care at home or in community settings such as pharmacies. It is exciting to bring together a transdisciplinary team that includes industry practitioners and academics.

School Head, College of Engineering

Faculty website

Eric R. Smith Professor of Engineering

This endowment was created through the generous bequest of Eric Rounthwaite Smith. Born in 1901, he grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and earned his electrical engineering degree from Oregon State in 1923. He was an engineer and eventually president of Alvin H. Johnson & Co., Inc., in New York City, and a member of the Engineers Club. Predeceased by his wife, Harriet, he passed away in 1981.

Zhenxing Feng
Zhenxing Feng
There are rising concerns about global warming and the depletion of fossil fuel. The development of sustainable energy storage and conversion systems has become one of the most important challenges in the 21st century. The innovation from my research on advanced batteries can make our environment greener and our life more convenient.

Assistant Professor, College of Engineering

Faculty website

Callahan Faculty Scholar in Chemical Engineering

Betty and Darry Callahan

With an OSU degree in chemical engineering, Darry Callahan spent nearly 40 years in the energy industry, rising to the upper echelons of management. In 2011 Callahan and his wife, Betty, established the Callahan Faculty Scholar Endowment Fund in Chemical Engineering to help OSU continue to power the world.

Callahan grew up near Roseburg, Oregon, and graduated from OSU with his bachelor's degree in 1964. He went to work at the oil company Chevron and became president of the chemical company in 1999. Following the company's 2001 merger with Texaco, he was executive vice president of power, chemicals, and technology until he retired in 2003. Callahan was elected to the College of Engineering's Academy of Distinguished Engineers in 1999 and named to the Oregon Stater Engineering Hall of Fame in 2009.

Callahan has served as an OSU volunteer for many years, including service as chair of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees, OSU Environmental Engineering Advisory board, and the Executive Commercialization Advisory Council, part of OSU's Research Office; he also has served on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and on the university's Board of Trustees. Bay Area residents, the Callahans have long supported OSU with generous gifts to the College of Engineering and the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnology Institute as well as the athletic department.

Fred Stevens
Fred Stevens

Principal Investigator and Director a.i., Linus Pauling Institute
Professor, College of Pharmacy

Faculty website

Linus Pauling Institute Endowed Chair and Directorship

Linus Pauling

The Linus Pauling Institute Endowed Chair at OSU was created soon after the institute moved from Palo Alto, California, to Corvallis in 1996. As a result of negotiations between OSU officials and the Board of Trustees of the original Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine, the institute’s cash assets were donated to the OSU Foundation, creating an endowment to perpetuate the chair. The donation was matched by the state of Oregon.

The endowment continues to grow through contributions from friends of the Linus Pauling Institute. Funds from the endowment support the research of an internationally recognized expert in nutrition, and the promotion of nutrition and health-related issues around the world.
Linus Pauling, a 1922 OSU graduate in chemical engineering, remains the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes. Acclaimed as one of the greatest scientists in history, Pauling co-founded the institute as a nonprofit research organization in 1973. LPI is renowned for its scientific work in the fields of nutrition and human health, and has made notable contributions in the fields of aging, heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

At the time of the institute’s move to OSU, former university president John Byrne called it “extraordinary news for Oregon State and the state of Oregon. We believe having the Pauling Institute at OSU will help to focus international attention on the quality of research in the Pacific Northwest. We are also confident it will stimulate new opportunities for scholarly exchange and the creation of new knowledge at Oregon State.”

Roberto Albertani
Roberto Albertani

Associate Professor, College of Engineering

Faculty website

Boeing Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design

The Boeing Company has long supported higher education in the belief that the quality of its employees' education has a direct impact upon the quality of the company's products and services. Boeing and the OSU College of Engineering enjoy a close, long-term relationship. Many OSU graduates have made their careers at Boeing, several rising to senior positions.

In 1992, the Boeing Company earned the double distinction of becoming the first corporation to endow a position at Oregon State University, and making the first gift to endow a professorship in the College of Engineering.

Thanks to the Boeing commitment, OSU is strengthening its work in integrated design and manufacturing—areas critical for future competitive product development and the training of future generations of students in this field.

The Boeing Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Design is held by an outstanding specialist in design engineering whose duties include teaching undergraduate and graduate students, developing new courses in design engineering, and working to maintain and enhance the strong relationship between industry and OSU's manufacturing engineering program.

Boeing Professors in Mechanical Engineering Design are selected on the basis of criteria established jointly by Boeing and OSU, and must be recognized leaders in design that requires advanced manufacturing and supporting methodologies.