Director of Sustainability Education and Research Receives Prestigious Chemical Education Award

Professor Cathy Middlecamp, who serves as Director of Sustainability Education and Research for the Office of Sustainability, accepted the George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education from the American Chemical Society (ACS) at its national meeting in Orlando, March 30 – April 4, 2019. The ACS is the world’s largest scientific society, with over 150,000 members from 140 countries.

The George C. Pimentel Award recognizes “outstanding contributions to chemical education considered in its broadest meaning, including the training of professional chemists; the dissemination of reliable information about chemistry to prospective chemists, members of the profession, students in other fields, and the general public; and the integration of chemistry into our educational system.” In Middlecamp’s case, the award focused on her attention to the broader implications of chemical education, including “the issues of people, their communities, and the planet.”

From left to right: Dr. Matt Fisher, ACS Award Symposium, Organizer; Dr. Patrick Daubenmire, ACS Division of Chemical Education Program Committee, Chair; Dr. Cathy Middlecamp.
From left to right: Dr. Matt Fisher, ACS Award Symposium organizer; Dr. Patrick Daubenmire, ACS Division of Chemical Education Program Committee Chair; and Dr. Cathy Middlecamp, UW-Madison.

This holistic approach to pedagogy and scientific subject matter has anchored Middlecamp’s nearly forty years of teaching at UW-Madison. Her awards symposium, “Chemistry and Our Common Future,” featured 12 speakers who examined the roles that chemistry teachers play—at all levels and with increasingly diverse cohorts—in engaging their students in learning the chemistry that underlies global challenges such as water availability, energy use, climate change, air quality, and food security.

In Middlecamp’s words, “Sustainability in the chemistry curriculum is a triple win: for our students, for our discipline, and for our planet.”

In Orlando, the ACS also recognized several other UW-Madison chemists, including Dr. Manos Mavrikakis, who received the Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis; Dr. Ive Hermans, who received the Ipatieff Prize; and Drs. Robert J. McMahon and Tehshik P. Yoon, who received Arthur C. Cope Scholar Awards.


By: Nathan Jandl