The Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chairs were established through a gift from the estate of Professor Rudolph Hugh. Dr. Sean Crosson and Dr. Victor J. DiRita are the current chairs.

Sean Crosson

Sean Crosson is the Professor Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair in the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, and has significant appointments in both the College of Natural Science and the College of Veterinary Medicine. He has long been interested in how living things adapt their physiology to survive in different environmental conditions. Crosson specializes in investigating the molecular basis of environmental adaptation in bacteria that inhabit niches, which range from freshwater to soil to the interior of mammalian cells. Using a cross-disciplinary set of experimental and computational tools, he seeks to develop a fundamental understanding of how these cells adapt to and survive in a range of environments with the aim of developing new approaches to promote the growth of beneficial microbes and curb the growth of microbes that inflict harm.

Crosson received his BA from Earlham College in Richmond, IN and his PhD from the University of Chicago. After his graduate studies, he served as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine, and then joined the University of Chicago as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2006. During his 14-year tenure there, he studied mechanisms of sensory transduction and gene regulation in the freshwater bacterium Caulobacter and the animal pathogen Brucella. From 2013 to 2018, Crosson directed the Chicago Center for Functional Annotation, one of four NIH-funded national functional genomics centers. Crosson was promoted to associate professor in 2012, and became a full professor of both biochemistry and molecular biology and microbiology in 2015. He remained at University of Chicago until joining MSU in 2019.

​Victor J. DiRita

Victor J. DiRita is the Rudolph Hugh Endowed Chair in Microbial Pathogenesis, and has appointments in the College of Natural Science, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the College of Human Medicine. He has focused his research on uncovering pathogenicity mechanisms in a range of bacteria including Vibrio cholerae, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Campylobacter jejuni. His research aims to develop and apply novel molecular and genetic technologies and to design innovative approaches for discovering new therapeutics. DiRita was appointed chairperson of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, which is a shared department of the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine, Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, and Natural Science, in June 2015.

DiRita received his BS in Microbiology and Public Health from MSU and his PhD in biological sciences from Purdue University. He did postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. Prior to joining MSU in June 2015, he was professor of microbiology and immunology and associate dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan Medical School.

DiRita has held several key leadership positions throughout his career. In addition to serving as associate dean at Michigan, he developed and directed the NIH-funded Molecular Mechanisms in Microbial Pathogenesis Training Program there. He chaired the 2008 Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Toxins and Pathogenicity, and is currently an editor for the Journal of Bacteriology, a member of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases study section for the NIH, chair of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Council on Microbial Sciences, and member of the ASM Board of Directors. His independent research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health continuously since 1989.