Samford University Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Elizabeth G. (Betsy) Dobbins has been named the inaugural Paul N. Propst Professor of Natural Sciences.
Dobbins said it was "a true honor" to hold the newly-created professorship, established by a generous endowment from William Self Propst, a 1961 Samford alumnus and Huntsville, Ala., pharmacy and real estate executive. The gift is in memory of Propst's father, a highly respected Methodist minister in North Alabama, recalled in the official announcement of the endowment as "a model of integrity, faith and determination".
The Paul N. Propst Professor of Natural Sciences honor will be awarded for a four-year term to a senior faculty member in the field of biology, chemistry or physics who has established a regional or national reputation for contributions to the discipline. To be considered for the award, a faculty member must hold the rank of Professor or Associate Professor and have taught at Samford for at least six years. The award includes a $10,000 stipend as well as a $5,000 research fund for laboratory supplies and equipment, student assistants or travel. "I plan to use this award to support student research in my lab and to advocate for increased support and recognition of student and faculty research," Dobbins said.
Dobbins, who joined Samford's faculty in 1999, is exceptionally active in mentoring undergraduate student research. In the last year alone she made three major presentations with undergraduates at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists.
Dobbins serves in leadership roles in many Samford initiatives and professional organizations, and her influence extends beyond the academy through a number of environmental and charitable organizations. She is an active member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Homewood and is currently a member of the church’s Environmental Committee. She gives her time and energy to several other charitable and compassionate causes, including the Cub Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Birmingham Hospitality Network, Friends of Shades Creek, the Five Mile Creek Greenway Partnership and the Shades Creek Clean Up Project.
"As well as an outstanding teacher and an active researcher, Dr. Dobbins has been a dynamic leader on campus," said Howard College of Arts and Sciences dean David Chapman. "As the Propst Professor, she will have even more opportunities to educate students and the community about scientific and environmental concerns."