SEC's Auburn University Faculty Achievement Award presented to fisheries professor Rex Dunham

Published: March 27, 2019
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Auburn University Professor Rex Dunham has been named the recipient of the Southeastern Conference’s 2019 Faculty Achievement Award for Auburn, announced today by the SEC.

Dunham, a professor in Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, will receive a $5,000 honorarium from the SEC, and he becomes Auburn's nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year, who will be selected from 14 nominees representing SEC universities.

He is internationally known for his research on the genetic improvement of catfish, focusing on efforts to positively impact food production for farmers, increase yield for processors and improve food quality for consumers without negative environmental effects.

“Dr. Dunham is an exceptional professor and scientist whose work continues to make a tremendous impact on the quality of our food and the health of our economy,” Auburn President Steven Leath said. “His commitment to excellence is evidenced by both the success of his students and his research endeavors. Rex is one of our finest faculty members, and it is no surprise he was chosen to represent Auburn for this distinguished honor.”

The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards, created to recognize faculty accomplishments, scholarly contributions and discoveries, were established by the SEC presidents and chancellors and are administered by the SEC provosts. The awards were first presented in 2012.

“Dr. Dunham’s groundbreaking work in the field of fisheries epitomizes Auburn’s land-grant mission of transforming lives and inspiring solutions to global issues through research and service,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Bill Hardgrave. “Rex is a true pioneer who continues to advance the field of aquacultures while creating solutions to issues such as global food insecurity, environmental concerns and conservation issues.”

Each recipient of the SEC Faculty Achievement Award must be a full professor at an SEC university, have a performance history of extraordinary teaching and a record of scholarship that is recognized nationally or internationally.

Dunham’s research has led to two major changes in the genetic type of fish used in the U.S., the latest transforming the channel catfish industry into a majority hybrid catfish industry. He has taught in four countries and conducted research in or with collaborators in 18 countries and has mentored more than 75 students earning their masters and doctoral degrees. He has published nearly 400 scholarly works, including more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and two books.

Upon being named, Dunham said, “It is greatly satisfying to have my achievements be recognized for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award for Auburn. However, these achievements could not have been accomplished without hard work and dedication from numerous graduate students, staff and collaborators, and without access to resources and faith of administrators for and in our program.”

Dunham’s accomplishments also include serving during a sabbatical as the program leader for the Genetic Enhancement and Breeding Program in the Philippines. In addition, he held the presidency of the International Association of Genetics in Aquaculture from 2009 to 2012.

He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Illinois in ecology, ethology and evolution in 1978 and his master’s and doctorate from Auburn in 1979 and 1981, respectively.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.