Psychology Professor Chris Newland receives prestigious award for research and scholarship

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One of the most important topics Auburn Psychology Professor Chris Newland teaches his students is patience.

He himself has to have patience as his research focus is on drugs and contaminants that affect behavioral and brain development over time.

“The research questions that I have chosen to study have been those that require a long time,” said Newland. “If you’re interested in how exposure before birth affects aging, you have to do the exposures before birth and let your subjects age. There’s no science in which patience is not required.”

Newland, who has been a part of Auburn’s faculty for 30 years, was recently honored with the university’s Creative Research and Scholarship Award. The award is presented to a faculty member who has distinguished him or herself through research, scholarly works and/or creative contributions in their fields.

“With the extraordinary collection of scholars and scientists at Auburn, it is humbling and gratifying that this should go to me,” he said.

“Chris Newland is very deserving of this award,” added Joseph Aistrup, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “His research and scholarship record is unsurpassed and I’m delighted to see Chris being recognized in this way.”

Newland, an alumnus of Auburn’s engineering program with master’s and doctoral degrees in experimental psychology from Georgia Tech, wears many hats representing his varied interests.

“Sometimes I consider myself a basic behavioral scientist with a tremendous interest in the processes of behavior,” he said. “Sometimes I consider myself a neuroscientist. By and large, my career has been devoted to investigating how drugs that break the brain, break the brain. I am fascinated by the brain and behavior and how those two things interact and work together.”

Newland is also a teacher, who, in his words, “trains scientists.”

“Every student brings something different, a set of strengths and a set of areas that need improvement,” he explained. “The students find ways to layer the studies so that as one ends, another is beginning. It’s exciting because by the time that student leaves, that student is usually a collaborator or a colleague rather than a student.”

Newland’s students have had a great level of success in their careers. He has seen 15 students go on to earn their doctorate and seven of those have gone on to work in academia.

“My graduate students are a source of enormous inspiration,” he said. “They are bright, they are eager and they are enthusiastic. They are just a joy to deal with and I really, really enjoy being in the classroom. I do enjoy talking about things I know something about, but I especially enjoy watching students learn things, getting interested in things and interacting with them.”

Newland said he believes Auburn students are getting better each year due to the high quality of the faculty.

“The faculty and staff here are just fabulous,” he said. “I am frequently awed by them. The university runs on them. I was very excited and proud to be hired here as a faculty member 30 years ago and Auburn has continued to mature and improve tremendously as an institution.

“The faculty here are active and engaged researchers. There is an attitude of collaboration and wanting to work together that has been fostered. I’m enthusiastic about it. I wish I could stay here another 30 years. It’s an exciting place to be.”

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