NSF selects first "Director's Awards For Distinguished Teaching Scholars"

September 19, 2001

Awards highlight excellence and promise in both research and education

This week the National Science Foundation (NSF) took a step to further encourage scientists and engineers to apply their talents to education, inside the classroom and out, by announcing the first Director's Awards for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. Five men and two women, whose research excellence has been shared liberally through education efforts among their student bodies and the public at large, have received $300,000 each over four years to continue and expand their work beyond their institutions.

The recipients, Arthur B. Ellis (University of Wisconsin- Madison), Leah H. Jamieson (Purdue University), Gretchen Kalonji (University of Washington), Eric Mazur (Harvard University), Joseph O'Rourke (Smith College, Mass.), H. Eugene Stanley (Boston University) and Carl E. Wieman (University of Colorado) will share NSF's "highest honor for excellence in both teaching and research."

They will be honored at a ceremony on November 8 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

During her tenure as NSF director, Rita Colwell has encouraged scientists and engineers to be involved in education, both in the classroom on subjects in which these scientists are already well- versed, or by engaging students and citizens in public fora on contemporary issues. She said the new awards should stimulate broader efforts.

"This award embodies our priority to recognize the outstanding contributions of scientists and engineers to the leading edge of scientific knowledge at the same time they are advancing the frontiers of education in science, mathematics, engineering and technology," Colwell said.

An interdisciplinary panel reviewed nearly 70 proposals from universities and colleges, with almost 25 percent submitted by women.

"These awards are far-reaching because they will foster innovative educational developments. They will increase and expand awareness of career opportunities in science and engineering. And they will further enhance connections between fundamental research and undergraduate education," said Judith Ramaley, NSF's assistant director for education and human resources. "These distinguished scholars are doing much to improve science and mathematics education to benefit non-majors as well as majors in science and engineering. In addition, they are raising to a higher level knowledge and literacy of the general public, which is very important to the nation's future prominence in science, engineering and technology."
Attachment: Summary of awards and programs of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, 2001

For more information, see: http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/ehr/DUE/programs/dts/


Recipient/Field Institution Accomplishments & Basis of Award

Arthur B. Ellis
Meloche-Bascom Professor of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research on electro-optical properties of materials, widely published and incorporated into instructional materials. National awards for developing instructional texts, kits and CDs for college and pre-college science classrooms. Project will create instructional materials on nanoscale science and engineering for undergraduates.

Leah H. Jamieson
Professor of Electrical and Computer
Purdue University
Leading researcher in integrating signal processing-based speech recognition systems with natural language processing systems. Co-founded center for Engineering Projects in Community Service. Project will create interdisciplinary faculty team to engage teams of students in long-term, multidisciplinary endeavors that solve technology-based problems faced by not-for-profit community agencies.

Gretchen Kalonji
Kyocera Chair, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Washington
Theoretical studies of the structure and properties of defects in crystalline solids. An NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award recipient in 1984. Contributions to international education and academic career encouragement to underrepresented groups. Project will develop alliances among multinational students/faculty to strategically couple undergraduate reform to solving complex regional problems.

Eric Mazur
Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Physics
Harvard University
Distinguished researcher in experimental ultrafast optics and condensed matter. His work led to the discovery of "black silicon." A 1988 NSF Presidential Young Investigator. Energized change to how introductory courses are taught to science majors and non-majors. Project will build on his "Peer Instruction" strategy, using Web-based resources so instructors may download class-ready materials.

Joseph O'Rourke
Olin Professor of Computer Science
Smith College
Research in computational eometry has had applications for computer graphics, robotics and manufacturing. A 1984 Presidential Young Investigator. He co-authors many publications with undergraduates and a leader in supporting women to pursue careers in computer science. Project will take his recent research work in computational geometry into classrooms from 6th grade upward, connecting the physical models to real-world problems.

H. Eugene Stanley
University Professor and Professor of Physics
Boston University
Among the most-cited physicists for work in applying statistical mechanics to physics, chemistry, engineering, biology and medicine. Developed visualization materials to help students understand the large-scale features of simple and complex systems in terms of of the small-scale interactions that give rise to them. Project will include the production/publication of toolkits to provide structure for curriculum design and modeling, and visualization, and to collaborate with teaching faculty to integrate research based educational technologies into the classroom.

Carl E. Wieman
Distinguished Professor of Physics
University of Colorado-Boulder
Distinguished in the field of laser spectroscopy and atomic physics. He helped achieve the cooling of atoms to far lower Temperatures than any previously, realizing for the first time the phenomenon of the Bose-Einstein Condensation of a gas, proposed initially in 1924. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he contributes to the development of national policies to improve undergraduate physics education. Project focuses on improving learning of physics by undergraduates, including those not majoring in science; also, the development of Java applets and interactive lecture demonstrations as a companion to the textbook, "How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life."

Program Contact:
Herb Levitan

National Science Foundation

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