LSU's Prosanta Chakrabarty Named Inaugural Edwin K. Hunter Chair for Science Communication

May 17, 2024

Dr. Prosanta Chakrabarty

Dr. Prosanta Chakrabarty

– Photo: Eddy Perez, LSU

LSU's George H. Lowery Professor, Prosanta Chakrabarty, has been appointed the inaugural Edwin K. Hunter Chair for Communication of Science Research in the Office of Academic Affairs. The Hunter Chair aims to foster critical thinking and effective communication among scientists, technical experts, supporters, and the public. 

"Dr. Chakrabarty is the perfect choice as the inaugural Edwin K. Hunter Chair for Communication of Science Research," said Executive Vice President & Provost Roy Haggerty. "He is an exceptionally talented scientist with an extraordinary ability to communicate science. I know that in holding this chair, Dr. Chakrabarty will elevate all of LSU’s ability to communicate well in the STEM fields."

Chakrabarty, a faculty member in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences and Curator of Fishes at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, studies the evolution and biogeography of fishes, offering insights into our planet's past. With over a dozen new species described, including several new cavefishes, and being recognized as an Elected Fellow of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Chakrabarty is not only a renowned natural historian but also a gifted natural communicator. 

“Science communication has been a passion of mine since I started to do science when I learned that the best way to understand my own work was by explaining it to others at different levels of understanding,” says Chakrabarty. 

An engaging speaker and book author, Chakrabarty is also a National Geographic Certified Educator and a TED Senior Fellow, with his TED talks amassing over 5 million views.

“I am so very humbled to be appointed to the Hunter Chair, which will allow me to expand my science communication efforts even further and to hopefully raise the profile of LSU as a SciComm powerhouse.” 

The Hunter Chair selection was made by the LSU Provost following recommendations from a committee comprising deans from the College of Science, College of Engineering, College of Agriculture, College of the Coast and Environment, and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Once appointed, the endowment associated with the chair can be used for various purposes to support academic, scholarly, and professional activities related to the chair's role. These uses include salary supplements, enhancements, and support for activities such as instruction, research, travel, equipment, materials, technology, faculty improvement, and graduate student support. All expenditures are managed according to LSU Foundation, LSU, and Louisiana Board of Regents policies to ensure effective and responsible utilization of funds.

Chakrabarty's goals as the Hunter Chair involve enhancing science communication at LSU by partnering with existing communication programs such as Science Café and CxC (Communication across the Curriculum) to enlist faculty for teaching communication-intensive classes; to motivating students to pursue Distinguished Communicator medals; and through various initiatives such as new books, exhibits, and training programs that can broaden engagement in scientific communication.

“I hope to inspire the next generation of SciCommers. There was never a more important time to have good science communication, translating and articulating very complicated research into something people can understand. Ultimately, I want to be part of that bridge that helps people understand how science works.”