Carnegie Mellon University

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April 01, 2011

Educators Recognized for Work Inside and Outside Classroom

By Heidi Opdyke

To see the impact Professor Bruce Armitage has had on chemistry education at Carnegie Mellon and across the country, one only needs to see the numerous letters of support that include former students who are now teaching their own chemistry courses.

Armitage, a professor of chemistry and co-director of the Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology, is this year’s recipient of the university-wide William H. and Frances S. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching.

He will receive the award at the Celebration of Education at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26 in Rangos 1 & 2. The event is free and open to the public.

Douglas Mitchell, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, credits Armitage’s Organic Chemistry II course for deciding to switch from biology to chemistry.

“Bruce’s course left me with an insatiable desire to learn more chemistry,” Mitchell wrote in his nomination letter.

Other alumni have gone on to teach at Case Western Reserve University, California Polytechnic State University, Clark College, and the University of Colorado at Boulder, to name a few.

Hyung Kim, head of the Department of Chemistry, wrote that Armitage’s efforts in innovating the organic chemistry curriculum have been essential.

“Bruce is one of the most, if not the most, sought-out faculty member by chemistry undergraduates who want to have research experience,” Kim wrote. “His lab is equally popular among graduate students for doctoral research.”

Armitage joined the CMU faculty in 1997. His teaching interests include organic chemistry, which he has taught to undergraduates since 1999, medicinal chemistry, chemosensors and biosensors, and supramolecular chemistry. His research group focuses on nucleic acids chemistry and fluorescence technology.

Academic Advising and Mentoring

Karen Stump, who joined the Department of Chemistry in 1983, is a teaching professor and director of Undergraduate Studies and Laboratories. She is this year’s recipient of the award for outstanding contributions to academic advising and mentoring.

“I have always felt that Karen is really invested in me as a person, not just as a student,” wrote Alyssa Montanaro, a junior in chemistry and psychology. “She cares about my future, what I’m involved with on campus, my academic path and just generally what makes me tick.”

Stump’s responsibilities include undergraduate education, advising, educational outreach, TA training and administrative oversight of the undergraduate program in chemistry. Currently she teaches Laboratory I: Introduction to Chemical Analysis as well as the undergraduate seminar sequence in chemistry, and is the primary academic adviser for students majoring or minoring in chemistry.

“Karen is very active in supporting not just chemistry, but all CMU students at different events around campus,” wrote Maggie Braun, assistant department head for undergraduate affairs.

As chemistry’s departmental liaison and a member of the executive committee for the undergraduate science laboratory renovations project in Doherty Hall, she was instrumental in more than a decade of intensive planning that led to the project’s groundbreaking in 2001. Her educational contributions have been her success in creating and sustaining educational outreach programs for kindergarten through 12th grade students and science teachers. She initiated and administered the Westinghouse Science and Mathematics Program for minority students and has directed several residential programs for teachers in districts throughout Pennsylvania.

She is a past winner of the Julius Ashkin Award, the college level teaching award in MCS, and was the 2003 and 2005 recipient of the Greek Council Outstanding Faculty Member Award. In 2002, she received the regional Responsible Care Catalyst Award for excellence in college chemistry teaching from the American Chemistry Council and was the 2005 recipient of the William H. and Frances
S. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching.

Mark Gelfand Service Award for Educational Outreach

Carrie Doonan, a teaching professor and director of undergraduate laboratories for the Department of Biological Sciences, is this year’s recipient of the award for educational outreach.

Doonan has developed outreach activities for students of all levels, from primary school-aged Girl Scout troops, to teenagers from church groups, to AP course students and teachers from local high schools. Her lab is often students’ first exposure to scientific discovery.

“Dr. Doonan generates outreach labs in order to motivate, excite and educate young minds. The labs are always framed within an interesting and exciting story, such as a murder mystery relating the science to CSI, in order to engage the students,” wrote Nina DiPrimio, special faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. “These programs not only educate but inspire students that may not have originally considered going into the sciences to think about that field as a realistic option and provide them with contacts at CMU.”