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An abiding belief in the value of education and the importance of the biological sciences in the liberal arts curriculum has led a former Lawrence University biology major and her husband — Charlot and Dennis Singleton of Atherton, Calif. — to establish a new endowed professorship at the college with a $1.5 million gift.

Professor of Biology Bart De Stasio has been named the first holder of the Singleton Professorship in the Biological Sciences. Appointments to endowed professorships are made in recognition of academic and artistic distinction through teaching excellence and/or scholarly achievement.

“Bart’s outstanding research record and his exemplary work in teaching and mentoring students represent the qualities that the donors of the chair wish to support through their wonderful gift,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck in announcing the appointment.

The Singleton Professorship is the fourth endowed professorship established during Lawrence’s six-year, $150 million “More Light” campaign, which concludes in October.

“I’m very honored to be the named to the Singleton Professorship in the Biological Sciences,” said De Stasio, a 1982 Lawrence graduate who returned to his alma mater as a faculty member in 1992. “This generous gift will allow us to continue to provide excellent learning and research opportunities for our students. I look forward to sharing the successes and achievements of our students with the Singletons.”

The gift includes an annual allowance to pursue innovative initiatives and activities related to teaching or research.

Charlot Singleton, a native of Duluth, Minn., graduated from Lawrence in 1967 with a major in biology and completed graduate work at California State University-San Jose.

A life-long advocate of education, both as a teacher and through her own tutoring business, she has served on the boards of many civic and charitable organizations in the greater San Francisco area that focus on children’s education and health, including board chair of a public school education foundation. She also has a long record of volunteer service to Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Calif., including serving on its board of directors for 12 years. She was appointed to Lawrence’s Board of Trustees in 2006.

Dennis Singleton, who graduated from Lehigh University and earned an MBA from Harvard University, enjoyed a highly successful career in commercial real estate investment. He was appointed to the Lehigh University Board of Trustees in 2000 and was named vice chairman in 2008.

In addition to the professorship, the Singletons established the Dennis and Charlot Nelson Singleton Scholarship, which was awarded for the first time this year.

De Stasio earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Cornell University and his scholarship interests include aquatic biology and predator-prey interactions. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, De Stasio co-directs the Lawrence University Marine Biology Program, during which students and faculty spend two weeks studying coral reef biodiversity on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean Sea. He also conducts research with students on the impacts of invasive species such as zebra mussels on the ecology of Lake Winnebago and Green Bay.

He has been the recipient of more than $279,000 in research grants, including awards from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Wisconsin Sea Grant program for his studies of the potential effects of climate change on lakes.

His research on topics ranging from dormancy in aquatic organisms and its impact on the ecology and evolution of lake communities to temperature and climatic change as a driving factor in lake ecology and water temperatures needed to kill invasive species that might be attached to boats crossing locks in the Fox River has been published in a variety of scholarly publications, including the Encyclopedia of Inland Waters as well as chapters of books.