Amanda Chunco named to Rawls endowed professorship

Chunco, associate professor of environmental studies, will spend the next two years as the Japheth E. Rawls professor for Undergraduate Research in Science.

Associate Professor Amanda Chunco in the Department of Environmental Studies has been named the next Japheth R. Rawls Professor for Undergraduate Research in Science.

Amanda Chunco has been named the Japheth R. Rawls Professor for Undergraduate Research in Science.
​​The honor is a rotating two-year professorship that supports the efforts of faculty engagement with students in the scholarship of scientific discovery. It is funded through a gift from the estate of Dr. Japheth E. Rawls Jr. ’35 and his wife, Virginia Riddick Rawls, and is for a faculty member in biology, chemistry, environmental studies, exercise science or physics.

“I’m so thankful to Elon University for the opportunities I’ve had over the last seven years, particularly the teaching, research and mentorship that I love,” Chunco said Monday, Aug. 19, during the opening day of Planning Week 2019 when he was officially honored with the endowed professorship.

Chunco earned her bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida and her doctorate in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She joined the Elon faculty in 2012 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“You can mark the impact of Dr. Chunco’s mentorship by the accomplishments of her students,” said Gabie Smith, dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, noting Chunco’s students who have gone on to make presentations and national conferences and gain acceptance to prestigious graduate degree programs.

Since arriving at Elon, Chunco has mentored 11 students through her research program including students from the Elon College Fellows and Honors Fellows programs. Along with pusuing graduate degrees in the environmental field, her mentored students have also gone on to have their work published in peer-reviewed journals.

Chunco views the Rawls Professorship as an opportunity to mentor more students, to take more of her mentees to national and international conferences and to redesign her classes to provide more authentic research opportunities to all her students.

Chunco’s scholarly interests are in biogeology, which focuses on the distribution of species. Specifically, she is interested in understanding how humans have shifted the distribution of species and determining the conservation consequences of that movement.

Former Rawls Professors include:

Karl Sienerth, Chemistry (2001 – 2004)
Greg Haenel, Biology  (2004 – 2007)
Linda Niedziela, Biology (2007 – 2010)
Brant Touchette, Biology and Environmental Studies (2010 – 2013)
Eric Hall, Exercise Science (2013 – 2015)
Yuko Miyamoto, Biology (2015-2017)
Kathy Matera, Chemistry (2017-19)