posted March 15, 2007

Hope Science Division Honors Two Professors

The Division for the Natural and Applied Sciences at Hope College has honored two faculty with new awards designed to recognize excellence in teaching or research.

Dr. John Krupczak Jr., associate professor of engineering, has received the "Dean's Science Division Mentoring/Advising/Teaching Award" and Dr. William Polik, who is the Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor of Chemistry at Hope, has received the "Dean's Science Division Faculty Research Award." Both awards were presented during a luncheon at the college on Thursday, March 15.

"We have an extremely talented faculty and these awards are a way of recognizing significant accomplishments that have an important impact on our students and the profession," said Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean of the division as well as a professor of chemistry at Hope.

"John's work at Hope College embodies the kind of one-on-one mentoring and nurturing that our students deserve, and that will be the foundation of a lasting relationship between the students and the college," he said. "Will is a specialist in physical chemistry and a recognized national leader in his scientific field."

"These awards will further invigorate our productive faculty-student collaborative research activities, which is the foundation of our teaching philosophy: that learning science is best done by doing science," Lee said. "John and Will are outstanding first selections as we inaugurate these two new awards, but the high quality of their colleagues made it difficult to choose and we're already looking forward to next year when we can honor more of our faculty."

The "Mentoring/Advising/Teaching Award" recognizes a faculty member who has gone beyond the call of duty in working with students, and the winner is selected by a panel of students. The "Faculty Research Award" is based on research accomplishments including publications, grant awards, significant presentations at professional meetings and external professional recognition, and the winner is chosen by an anonymous panel of faculty members from among nominees by the division's department chairs and the dean. Both awards include financial support for the winners to use in working with students.

Krupczak was celebrated by the engineering students who nominated him for his willingness "to extend himself in every which way to ensure that a student succeeds." They praised his enthusiasm and skill in teaching classes ranging from the "Science and Technology of Everyday Life" course that he developed for non-science majors to the senior-level "Senior Design" course in which engineering majors develop and present their own inventions. They appreciated his open-door policy and his availability, which includes evenings and weekends, to discuss topics ranging from coursework, to course selection to career direction. Students have also enjoyed working with him in his ongoing research on cryogenics and as assistants for "Science and Technology of Everyday Life."

It is the second time this year that Krupczak has been honored by Hope for his teaching. In January he received the "Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award" presented by the college's Provost's Office.

In "Science and Technology of Everyday Life," students learn about the science behind the objects they use daily, including by building items ranging from radios to keyboards themselves. Krupczak first offered the course in 1995 and later developed additional laboratory exercises for it with support from a grant from the National Science Foundation. He has subsequently authored or co-authored numerous articles published in professional journals or made presentations during professional meetings across the country focused on teaching technological literacy for non-science students.

His scholarship has included numerous publications and presentations concerning his research in cryogenics as well. Prior to joining the Hope faculty, he was a cryogenics engineer with the United States Department of Energy.

Krupczak has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1994, and currently chairs the college's engineering program. In the fall of 2004 he represented the college as an exchange professor at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan.

Polik uses lasers to study the details of chemical reactions, and maintains a vibrant and productive research program that involves Hope students. Since joining the Hope faculty, he has received 46 grants and awards totaling more than $2 million in support of his research, has given 56 invited seminars and has written 52 articles--including 15 co-authored with 20 Hope students who have worked with him on his research.

Polik has been an active advocate at the national level for undergraduate research and education in a variety of ways. He is currently serving a three-year term as chairperson of the national Committee on Professional Training (CPT) of the American Chemical Society (ACS). In the fall of 2005, he organized a symposium on "Envisioning Undergraduate Chemistry Education in 2015," held during the national ACS meeting in Washington, D.C. In addition to his ongoing service on the CPT, he is a past member of the ACS DivCHED committee that helped develop the current set of physical chemistry national examinations and is past chairperson of the Beckman Scholar Program Executive Committee, which distributes more than $1 million annually in undergraduate research fellowships.

In February he was installed as a Fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He was named a "Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Scholar" for 2004, and in the fall of 2003 he was one of only eight chemists in the nation to be honored during the "Excellence in Undergraduate Research Symposium" held at Indiana University in Bloomington for making significant contributions to research and the mentorship of chemistry undergraduates. Polik received the "Janet L. Andersen Award for Excellence in Teaching" at Hope in 1999, the same year that he received the Sigma Xi Award for Scientific Outreach at the college. In 1991, he received a prestigious "Presidential Young Investigator Award" from the National Science Foundation. He has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1988.