University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

UW-Eau Claire Chemist Receives Prestigious
Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

 MAILED:  Nov. 9, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. James Phillips, professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has been awarded a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation of New York.

Phillips, one of nine 2004 award recipients, was honored with the $60,000 award for his accomplishments in teaching, mentoring and research with undergraduate students.

"I'm excited," Phillips said of the award. "It brings visibility to our department and to the university. And the $60,000 gives me the flexibility to grab an idea and go with it. That kind of funding flexibility is unusual."

A first rate teacher-scholar, Phillips is exactly the kind of talented scientist that the Dreyfus award is intended to honor, said Dr. Jack Pladziewicz, professor emeritus of chemistry at UW-Eau Claire and current program officer for the Research Corp.

"Jim possesses the ability and drive to do high quality research in physical chemistry and at the same time challenge and stimulate science and non-science students in the classroom," Pladziewicz said. "He has demonstrated an uncommon ability to establish himself both in research and teaching in a very short period of time."

Phillips is one of the most scholarly active faculty members in UW-Eau Claire's chemistry department, said Cheryl Muller, chair of the chemistry department.

"Since his arrival in 1998, he has been continuously successful working with students, obtaining funding for projects, and disseminating the results through papers and presentations," Muller said, noting that Phillips is now working with a team of four student researchers to study how condensed phase environments change molecular structures.

After arriving at UW-Eau Claire, Phillips received start-up funding from Research Corp. and ACS-Petroleum Research Fund, and later received renewal grants from each agency. His proposal for an Infrared Spectrometer with high resolution capability was supported by the NSF-MRI program, and his proposal to continue a nitrile complex project was funded by the NSF-RUI program. In six years, Phillips' total grant funding is nearly $400,000, Muller said.

And Phillips and his students have presented their research at highly visible international and national scientific conferences, Pladziewicz said.

"These presentations offered remarkable experiences for his students and opportunities for Dr. Phillips to advance his research," Pladziewicz said. "Not surprisingly, his students are now advancing to top graduate programs."

Phillips is on sabbatical this year, dividing his time between his campus lab, where students continue their experimental work, and the Cramer Lab at the University of Minnesota , where he's using sophisticated computational models.

"Dr. Phillips has a strong research track record, and with his current grant and sabbatical, will achieve even more in the years to come," Muller said. "The Dreyfus funding will allow him to include more undergraduates in his research. He also can put resources into his teaching and community outreach on environmental chemistry."

In addition to his research, Phillips devotes energy to classroom teaching, curriculum development and community outreach, Muller said.

"He's one of the most sought after, enthusiastic instructors we have," Muller said, noting that Phillips received UW-Eau Claire's 1999 Chemistry Professor of the Year award. "Going beyond what he was expected to teach, he developed chemistry courses with a focus on the environment."

UW-Eau Claire's emphasis on both undergraduate research and quality classroom teaching is what drew him to the university, Phillips said. "I don't see a distinction between research and teaching," he said.

The enthusiasm and skill with which Phillips teaches non-chemistry majors reflects his commitment to the liberal arts, Pladziewicz said.

"He possesses a remarkable ability to find the right level to pitch a subject so students without a science background can achieve a better understanding of science-based issues, including energy policy, air and water pollution, and climate change," Pladziewicz said.

Phillips is the second member of UW-Eau Claire's chemistry department to receive the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. Dr. Jason Halfen won an award in 2001. Dr. Fred King won a similar award from the Dreyfus Foundation in 1983 when the program was structured slightly differently. In addition, several other UW-Eau Claire chemistry faculty members and students have received awards through the Dreyfus Foundation's prestigious awards programs.

"Being part of UW-Eau Claire's chemistry department helped me win this award because the Dreyfus Foundation definitely knows who we are," Phillips said. "We are one of only four universities in the country to have had three faculty members win this award."

In 1969 the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation established the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program to support the teaching and research careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. Based on nominations, the program provided discretionary funding to faculty at early stages in their careers. In 1993 the Foundation divided the program into two awards, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program and the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program. Both programs support and encourage young scholars who demonstrate excellence in research and teaching.

Institutions can make only one nomination annually for the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program.

Phillips joined UW-Eau Claire's chemistry department in 1998. Prior to coming to UW-Eau Claire, he was a NOAA post-doctoral Fellow in climate and global change at the University of Colorado from 1996-1998. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and his bachelor's degree from Middlebury College .



UW-Eau Claire Home

Excellence. Our measure, our motto, our goal.

 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: November 9, 2004