MAILED: Nov. 20, 2000
More chemists who received their Ph.D.s between 1988-98 have baccalaureate degrees from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire than any other similar institution in the nation, according to the National Science Foundation.
Using its statistical database system, CASPAR, which focuses on science and engineering programs at U.S. universities and colleges, NSF ranked UW-Eau Claire No. 1 in the number of chemistry graduates going on to earn their Ph.D.s. UW-Eau Claire was ranked among 557 other Carnegie Masters 1 and 2 institutions public and private comprehensive institutions.
When Carnegie Liberal Arts 1 and 2 institutions are added to the mix (another 670 schools), UW-Eau Claire still holds its own in a four-way tie for 12th place. Even when research institutions are included, UW-Eau Claire ranks well, falling between Washington University and Rice University and ranking above many institutions recognized for top chemistry programs, such as Stanford University, Notre Dame, Columbia University, New York University and Boston University.
Its clear that UW-Eau Claires chemistry program is headed in the right direction, said Jack Pladziewicz, chair of the chemistry department. Were talking about more than 1,200 institutions when you include research schools. Most people wouldnt expect UW-Eau Claire to be so high on the list.
NSF looks at the institution as a whole when categorizing it, which means that even though UW-Eau Claire doesnt offer a masters degree in chemistry, it still is considered a Carnegie Masters 1 and 2 institution because it offers other graduate programs.
Were being compared to other schools with masters programs in chemistry, yet we still do well it just makes our ranking all that more impressive, Pladziewicz said.
The information used to determine UW-Eau Claires ranking was based on students with undergraduate degrees in chemistry or chemistry/business. The data does not include biological fields, so although biochemistry/molecular biology is the chemistry departments largest major, those students who earn their Ph.D.s are not included in the data.
Pladziewicz says a high number of biochemistry/molecular biology majors continue with higher education, and he expects that number to rise.
Pladziewicz attributes the success of the program to the facultys commitment to classroom teaching and their personalized approach. He also credits a lot of the success to a long history of faculty/student undergraduate research.
Underdergraduate research involves students in the early part of their college career it gives them an opportunity to solve original problems in science, and it captures their interest, Pladziewicz said.
Scott Hartsel, a professor of chemistry at UW-Eau Claire since 1988, agrees.
I use research as a teaching tool because it is important for students to face day-to-day problems and uncertainties that are part of research, Hartsel said. I want students to see the beauty and wonder of science the way that I do and realize that they can play a part in this endeavor too.
Hartsel, who has worked with more than 30 undergraduate research collaborators and has published several papers co-authored by students, is thrilled with the results from NSF.
Were on par with some of the nations elite universities, Hartsel said. Its like being a really good Little League team and finding yourself competing in the Majors!
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 20, 2000