Published on May 1, 2014  

Dr. Ronald N. Hunsinger, Chair of the Biological and Environmental Sciences Department at Samford, was inducted as a Fellow in the Alabama Academy of Science in March at the Annual Meeting of the Academy at Auburn University. The award is given to scientists in Alabama based upon their meritorious service to the Academy and upon their outstanding career as a scientist.

Dr. Hunsinger received his B.S. and M.S. in biology and physiology from Mississippi State University. He then earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology/toxicology from the University of Mississippi. Upon completion of his doctorate, he came to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School to pursue research in clinical biochemistry as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Cystic Fibrosis Core. Following that, he joined the faculty in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Hunsinger quickly rose to the rank of Full Professor with tenure. He recently completed his 30th year of service at Samford. For the past 12 years he has been the Chair of the Department. His leadership as an academician, researcher and administrator has been much appreciated within the department and Samford. His scholarship efforts have led to publications in journals such as Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, Psychopharmacology, The Journal of Ophthalmology and The Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Along with these accomplishments, he has made numerous presentations at state, regional and national scientific meetings. During his tenure at Samford, he has taught an array of biomedical courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels including a cadaver-based Human Gross Anatomy, Medical Physiology, Histology, Basic Pathology, Toxicology and Risk Analysis.

At Samford, he established the Graduate Program in Environmental Management, which he directs, and the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education, for which he is the Executive Director. During his time serving in the latter two capacities, he has successfully attracted significant funding for corporate and private support for the programs. Besides the Alabama Academy of Science, Dr. Hunsinger is a member of the American Association of Anatomists, the National Society of Histotechnologists and The Society of Toxicologic Pathology. His current research efforts are directed toward an understanding of the human neurodegenerative condition of Rett Syndrome. He leads a team at Samford that collaborates with the Department of Neurobiology at The University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School to do neuropathological and behavioral assessments in mice that have been mutated to mimic the human condition of Rett’s. The efficacy of various plant extracts in improving hippocampal learning and dendritic arboration in the mice model are the focus of the research. He has served the Alabama Academy of Science as first and second Vice President and was the immediate past President of the Academy (2012-2013). During his time as vice-president and president of the Alabama Academy of Science, he worked tirelessly to provide leadership and expertise to strengthen the Academy. In 2014, he was inducted as a Fellow in the Alabama Academy of Science. The award is given to scientists in Alabama based upon their meritorious service to the Academy and upon their outstanding career as a scientist.

He and his wife, Lillian, live in Leeds, the eastern-most suburb of Birmingham. Besides his work, Ron enjoys music and choral conducting. He is the choral director for the Leeds Community Chorus, which is part of the Leeds Arts Council. He and Lillian have one daughter, Ivy (husband Richard) Bishop and two grandsons, Tripp and Jackson, ages 9 and 6.