posted June 20, 2001

Barney Named to Biology Chair

Dr. Christopher Barney of the Hope College biology faculty has been named to the college's new "T. Elliot Weier Chair in Biology."

Barney is a professor of biology and chair of the department, and has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1980. He was appointed to the chair for a 10-year term by the college's Board of Trustees in May, and was honored during an investiture ceremony held at the college on Monday, June 18.

The chair, designated for a Hope biologist with a distinguished record as a teacher and scholar, has been established through the estate of T. Elliot and Katherine S. Weier. T. Elliot Weier graduated from Hope in 1926, and Katherine S. Weier in 1921. T. Elliot died on Oct. 14, 1991, and Katherine on March 19, 1977. In accord with the terms of the bequest, the holder of the chair is to be publicly referred to as "The Weier Professor of Plant Science."

T. Elliot Weier had been a member of the botany faculty at the University of California-Davis for 33 years, until his retirement in 1969. He was a world authority on plant cell structure.

Among other honors, he received a Merit Award from the Botanical Society of America in 1988. Hope presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1978.

His internationally recognized research focused on photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light energy into cell energy. He pioneered the use of the electron microscope in studying cell structure. He also developed an introductory plant biology course and co-authored a widely-used textbook to accompany it.

Weier had completed his doctorate in botany at the University of Michigan in 1929. In addition to his long-time tenure at UC-Davis, he had also spent a year as a fellow at the University of Louvain, Belgium; a year as a National Research Council Fellow at Cornell University; a year as an instructor at St. Lawrence University; a year at Connecticut College; and two years at Oregon State College.

Katherine Weier had also done graduate work in botany at the University of Michigan, and later worked in the botany department at the University of California. She and her husband co-authored a variety of publications in botany and cytology.

Barney joined the Hope faculty as an assistant professor in 1980, and was promoted to associate professor in 1986 and full professor in 1992. He has chaired the department of biology since 1996.

He served a term as the college's Faculty Moderator, and from 1996 to 2000 was a faculty representative on Hope's Board of Trustees. An active member of the Hope community, he led a seminar during the college's "Winter Happening" in January of 1999.

Through the years he has taught courses including "Principles of Biology," "Human Physiology," "Vertebrate Physiology," and "Science and Human Values," in addition to engaging in collaborative research with Hope students. His current research emphasis is on the role of hormones in water balance and blood pressure regulation.

He has received more than 20 external grants in support of his research and education, including grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation (NSF). He serves as a grant reviewer for the NSF and a manuscript reviewer for "The American Journal of Physiology." He has written or co-authored more than 50 articles for professional journals, in addition to making numerous presentations at professional conferences.

He was a member of the Holland East Middle School PTA Feasibility Committee and the PTA Executive Committee.  He is a member of St. Francis De Sales Church, where he has chaired the Adult and Family Faith Formation Board and the Pastoral Council.

Barney did his undergraduate work at Wright State University. He obtained his Ph.D. in medical physiology from Indiana University in 1977 and then spent three years doing research at the University of Florida Medical School.

Barney is married to Julie Ann Surface Barney, who also works at Hope College, and he has two college-age children, Jeremy and Kara.