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Office of the President

February 20, 2020 – Announcing the 2020 Lantis Endowed University Chairs

To: Campus Community

From: President Gayle Hutchinson

 I am delighted to announce the selection of civil engineering professor Kun Zhang and chemistry professor Jinsong Zhang as this year’s Lantis Endowed University Chairs. Their selection for this joint award follows a very competitive process that featured 12 outstanding faculty applications.

Professor David Lantis was a faculty member of the Department of Geography who understood that private giving would help enrich the University’s teaching and learning environment. Professor Lantis and his wife, Helen, donated $2 million to endow a University chair in their name, which allows for the annual funding of two University chairs. Past recipients of the Lantis Endowed University Chair include Amanda Banet, Eric Bartelink, Brian Brazeal, Tracy Butts, David Colson, Michael Ennis, Chiara Ferrari, Sergei Fomin, Georgia Fox, Stephen Lewis, Donald Miller, Michelle Neyman Morris, Susan Roll, David Stachura, Rachel Teasdale, Kate Transchel, Lori Beth Way, and Byron Wolfe.

Provost Debra Larson and I thank the Lantis Endowed University Chairs Selection Committee, chaired by Meriam Library Dean Patrick Newell, for its time and expertise in choosing the recipients for this prestigious honor.

Professors Kun Zhang and Jinsong Zhang will receive a $36,000 award to advance their research and enhance learning through student-centered projects. The Zhangs are working on a process to repurpose used cooking oils for sustainable road maintenance. Together, they have proposed and developed a cost-effective method to produce biobinders from the used cooking oil for use as a renewable construction material that is qualified to replace the petroleum-based asphalt binder. This innovative work has been funded by the Federal Highway Administration and Amazon Catalyst Program. The Zhangs are seeking to advance this remarkable research to the next stage at CSU, Chico by combining the biobinders with recyclable waste asphaltic materials—including pavement materials and house roof shingles—and implementing the laboratory products in the field to patch potholes and monitor the field performance.

The project has both short-term and long-term benefits for STEM education at CSU, Chico by establishing an interdisciplinary collaboration between Departments of Civil Engineering and Chemistry and Biochemistry. It also engages students in local community service as the Zhangs work with local public work agencies, such as the City of Chico, to patch potholes on local roads.

Please join me in congratulating these two very worthy recipients.