Catholic University chemist receives award from world's largest scientific society

June 06, 2001

Chemist Diane M. Bunce of Anne Arundel County, Md., will be honored August 28 by the American Chemical Society for her efforts to promote a better understanding of chemistry among the general public. She will receive the 2001 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach from the world's largest scientific society at its 222nd national meeting in Chicago, Ill.

The Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach is given each year to someone who makes a major effort to communicate to the public how the chemical sciences improve everyday life.

"Much of her success as a teacher is due to her ability to make chemistry not only understandable but also enjoyable, particularly for students who are not science majors," says John J. Convey, provost of Catholic University. "Diane Bunce makes chemistry come alive."

Dr. Bunce reaches out to an audience of students, teachers and parents through her chemistry workshops. These workshops consist of holiday lectures, experiments and hands-on demonstrations of how chemistry is "part of traditional celebrations in everyday life." Such workshops include "Chemistry of Egg Dyeing", "Come Dressed as Your Favorite Element for Halloween," "Chemistry of Your Thanksgiving Dinner," and "Chemistry of Hangovers for St. Patrick's Day".

Bunce also reaches out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. She has testified before the House Committee on Science and the House Education and Workforce Committee to promote the professional development needs of science teachers. She also worked with the office of Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) to sponsor an event during National Chemistry Week, a workshop in which approximately 50 legislative staff participated.

"Outreach is not just a word to me. It's a way of life. Outreach defines a lot of who I am and what I do," Dr. Bunce said. "My version of public outreach encompasses everyone I come into contact with."

Diane Bunce is an associate professor of chemistry at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where she has worked for 15 years. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Le Moyne College in 1972, M.A. in teaching (science education) from Cornell University in 1973, and Ph.D. in chemical education from University of Maryland College Park in 1984. She resides in Gambrills, Md., with her husband of 26 years and two sons.

American Chemical Society

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