Taylor Named Haines Biochem Professorby Jim Amidon • November 5, 2009
Associate Professor of Chemistry Ann Taylor has been named the first William J. and Wilma M. Haines Professor in Biochemistry at Wabash College. Taylor, who received her undergraduate degree from Concordia College and her Ph.D. in chemistry from Purdue University, began her tenure at Wabash in 1998.
The Haines Chair in Biochemistry is endowed by gifts to Wabash from William J. Haines, Class of 1940, who was the first Wabash graduate to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry.
“A strong advocate for faculty-student research, for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and for institutional assessment that leads to change, Ann Taylor exemplifies a commitment to teaching and learning in a liberal arts context,” said Dean Gary A. Phillips in his announcement to the faculty. “It is the kind of teaching that changed the life of Bill Haines, the kind of teaching that continues to changes today’s generation of Wabash students.”
Taylor’s research has focused on signal transduction in plant disease, and she has worked closely with students in her research — and in exposing them to applications of their scientific studies.
“I did have the opportunity to meet Bill Haines in person at the dedication of our new science building,” Taylor said. “He is indeed a remarkable man, with great foresight. When he got his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1947, the field was incredibly young. For example, we didn't know the structures of proteins or DNA, and how DNA communicated genetic information wasn't known.
“I hope Wabash's biochemistry program will spur students to not only be well-grounded in the fundamentals of biochemistry, but also to be able to adapt to new discoveries and to embrace the future with vision, passion, and leadership as Bill Haines has,” Professor Taylor said.
The William J. and Wilma M. Haines Fund for the Study of Biochemistry has two broad mandates and purposes: the establishment of an endowed professorship and to extend the work of the Haines Professor in Biochemistry through support for student research, public lectures and symposia, and other related activities.
“The Haines Fund for the Study of Biochemistry has already and will continue to provide students with opportunities to conduct research and interact with cutting edge researchers,” Professor Taylor said.
The Haines Fund allowed Taylor to lead an advanced biochemistry course in an investigation of how genetically modified crops are made — and in a discussion of the ethics and regulation of genetically modified crops. The students traveled to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Danforth Science Center, and to the world headquarters of the corporate giant, Monstanto.
Over the last decade income from the accumulating gifts has been used to support student-faculty research, to meet equipment needs, and to convene an annual public program that has highlighted the role of biochemistry in the College’s curriculum. Those programs have featured many promising young biochemists, including Wabash College alumni.
“Dr. Haines’ gift has already allowed students such as Evan Johnson ’01, Zach Kaur ’04, and others to conduct biochemical research at Wabash, and they are now earning Ph.D.s in bicohemically related fields,” said Professor Taylor.
“Indeed, I’d like to thank Bill Haines for endowing this chair, the accompanying research fund, and the opportunities it creates for students.”
Taylor is well-known on the Wabash campus for pushing her students beyond memorization of facts. She has students who study infectious diseases write newspaper articles for the lay public, and do so in a way that can be understood and judged by non-scientists. She’s currently teaching a course on the chemistry of cancer, for which her students have done extensive research and have presented their findings in both public presentations and on the website, Proteopedia.
William J Haines was a graduate of Crawfordsville High School and star student of famed Wabash chemistry professor “Doc” Howell. Haines graduated summa cum laude and first in his class with a double major in chemistry and math. After earning his Ph.D. in 1947, Dr. Haines went on to a successful career with the Upjohn Company, Armour Laboratories, and Ortho Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, where he served as vice-president for a research and development group, a position he held until his retirement in 1991 as Director, Executive Committee Member, and Corporate Vice President. Dr. Haines was also an active member of the Wabash College Board of Trustees from 1972 through 1993, and continues to serve as an Emeritus Trustee.