First Fisher Endowed Chair selected

TU biology professor will study microbial communities in Chesapeake Bay

TOWSON, Md. (August 1, 2006)—Dr. Joy Watts, assistant professor of biology at Towson since Joy Watts, Ph.D.2004, has been selected as the first recipient of the Jess & Mildred Fisher Endowed Chair in the Biological and Physical Sciences. Watts’ three-year appointment to the Fisher Chair will start August 16.

As the holder of the Jess and Mildred Fisher Endowed Chair, established in June 2005 as part of a $10.2 million gift from the Robert M. Fisher Foundation, Watts (pictured, right) will be awarded $20,000 for each of three years. This award may be used for, but is not limited to, a summer faculty stipend, professional travel, research equipment and supplies, undergraduate student support, and a three-hour course load reduction per annum in her teaching.

Watts, who has a Ph.D. in environmental microbiology from the University of Warwick, is a leading expert in the use of molecular tools to examine the ecology and distribution of microbial communities associated with PCB dechlorination in the environment. Her research plans during her tenure as the Fisher Endowed Chair will include continuing studies of microbial communities in the Chesapeake Bay as well as new projects focusing on studies of new dehalogenating microorganisms that exist in symbioses with sponges from the Chesapeake Bay. Watts will conduct much of this work in close collaboration with her undergraduate students.

Eleven professors applied for the Fisher Chair, including two faculty who received “meritorious recognition” on the basis of the strength of their applications: Dr. Harald Beck (Biological Sciences) and Dr. Jennifer Scott (Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences). They will each receive a $5,000 award in support of their professional development.

The purpose of the Fisher Endowed Chair is to honor the memory of the Fisher family by incorporating research opportunities into the undergraduate learning experience through the support of the scholarly growth of highly promising faculty researchers in the physical and biological sciences who are in the early stages of their careers at Towson.


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