Donald G. Baird, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the Alexander F. Giacco Professor of Chemical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Alexander F. Giacco professorship is funded through the Alexander F. Giacco Endowed Presidential Chair Fund, which was initiated by a donation from Hercules Inc. to honor the many contributions to business and education by Alexander F. Giacco, former president of Hercules and a 1942 alumnus of Virginia Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1978, Baird is internationally known for his expertise, research, and teaching in the field of polymer rheology and its application to polymer, biopolymer, and polymer composite processing. His research approach utilizes both theoretical and experimental tools, and he continues to find ways to apply these tools to new areas of research, including fuel cells and bio-materials.

Throughout his career, he has been the principal or co-principal investigator on research funding totaling more than $39 million. He has written more than 178 peer-reviewed publications, including four major review articles; 133 peer-reviewed preprints; 53 other publications; 11 book chapters; and a major textbook.

He has given 123 invited lectures at universities, companies, and technical meetings, of which 24 have been keynote or plenary lectures.

He has been the mentor to 43 Ph.D. students, 16 master’s degree students, 12 postdoctoral researchers, and two scientists.

Baird is active in many major technical societies, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Society of Plastics Engineers, and has served on the executive committees of several professional organizations.

He has won numerous awards for both his research and teaching, including the International Award from the Society of Plastic Engineers (the highest award presented by the society) and the Jack Breslin Award from Michigan State University. At Virginia Tech, he has won the College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the DuPont Young Faculty Award.

Baird received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.