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Dr. Jack Pladziewicz Research Scholarship encourages achievements in chemistry

RELEASED: March 8, 2011

Jack Pladziewicz
Dr. Jack Pladziewicz

EAU CLAIRE — A scholarship to encourage research opportunities for chemistry majors has recently been established through the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation. It is also being endowed to honor Dr. Jack Pladziewicz, UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of chemistry, who made a big impact on faculty and students alike. Pladziewicz taught chemistry at UW-Eau Claire from 1973-2002 and served as department chair for a number of years.

An initial gift of $10,000 was made by Dr. Michael Carney and his wife, Randee, of Eau Claire. Michael Carney, a UW-Eau Claire alumnus, is now a professor of chemistry and current chair of the UW-Eau Claire chemistry department. The Carneys have encouraged faculty, alumni and friends to make additional contributions that will help sustain an annual scholarship of at least $1,000 to be awarded to an outstanding student who shows exceptional promise and has excelled in a collaborative research project with a chemistry department faculty member.

"This scholarship honors the high standards Jack set as a teacher and scholar," Carney said of his mentor and friend. "Collaborative research with Jack was the defining experience of my undergraduate education. It showed me the scientific process in action. It convinced me that I could be a research chemist and, maybe more importantly, that I wanted to be a research chemist."

According to Carney, his research experience helped him stand out in graduate school applications and prepared him "extremely well" for graduate level research.

"The chance to work with undergraduates was the most important factor in my decision to return to UW-Eau Claire," Carney said, noting that Pladziewicz was the department chair at the time, giving him the dual pleasure of knowing him as a professor and as a colleague.

Carney's return allowed him to begin repaying what he called a long overdue debt.

"I wanted to give back in part by providing students with research opportunities — to help them decide if they really want to be research scientists. Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no. Both are positive outcomes because students can reach that informed decision early in their careers."

Like Carney, Pladziewicz also received his undergraduate degree from UW-Eau Claire, left and returned to serve on the faculty. He is a 1967 chemistry graduate. After Pladziewicz retired from UW-Eau Claire, he went on to work for a number of years with the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, a national foundation located in Tucson, Ariz., that stimulates advances in science.

The UW-Eau Claire chemistry department is recognized nationally, ranking near the top of undergraduate programs for the number of students who obtain bachelor's degrees and for the number of students who go on to obtain doctoral degrees. The success of the program is further defined by a 100 percent placement rate for chemistry graduates — either in jobs or continuing education in the past four years.

Carney attributes these distinctions to the contributions of the chemistry faculty and staff, as well as the educators who came before him, and wants to make sure their efforts are recognized through this fund.

Past support from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation has helped the chemistry department achieve many milestones, including opportunities to meet leading figures in the chemical sciences through a seminar program; to participate in faculty-student collaborative research from which papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals; to present at regional, national and international meetings; and to use state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation.

For more information about this and other scholarships available through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, visit the Foundation website or contact Kimera Way, Foundation executive director, at waykk@uwec.edu.

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RD/DW

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