posted March 12, 2009

Hope Science Division Honors Two Professors

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

Dr. Maria Burnatowska-Hledin, professor of biology and chemistry, has received the "Dean's Science Division Faculty Research Award."  Dr. Mark Pearson, assistant professor of mathematics, has received the "Dean's Science Division Mentoring/ Advising/ Teaching Award."   Both awards were announced during a luncheon at the college on Thursday, March 12.

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. The "Mentoring/ Advising/ Teaching Award" recognizes a faculty member who has gone beyond the call of duty in being an exceptional mentor, advisor and teacher to students, and the winner is selected by a panel of students.

"I am constantly amazed with the exemplary teaching, mentoring and advising that go on at Hope, and these are overwhelmingly accomplished through our operating philosophy that learning science is best done by doing science," said Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences as well as a professor of chemistry at Hope.  "Exceptional teaching in the classroom and pursuing productive research, measured in peer-reviewed publications, external grants and the size of our research program, are the hallmarks of the natural and applied sciences at Hope.  These qualities of distinction are exemplified in the day-to-day work of Drs. Hledin and Pearson."

The awards were created in 2007 as part of the division's strategic plan, "Vision 20/20," which has the goal of reaching an uncharted level of excellence, according to Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences at Hope.  Both awards include financial support for the winners to use in working with students.

Burnatowska-Hledin has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1992.  Her research concerns the protein VACM-1/cul 5, seeking to understand the role that it may play in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells as well as cancer-induced angiogenesis (growth of blood capillaries).  Lee noted that results from Hledin's research will have a long-term and far-reaching application in the fight against cancer.

She has received a variety of grants in support of her work, including a multi-year, $503,303 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1994, and most recently she received a grant from the National Cancer Institute, titled "VACM-1, a cul 5 gene regulates cell growth and angionesis."  In 1999, she received one of only six "Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards" presented nationwide to professors in the chemical sciences by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation in recognition of her teaching, mentorship, and accomplishments in research and teaching.  She has authored more than 40 publications, in scientific journals including the "American Journal of Physiology," "Microvascular Research," "Toxicology" and the "Journal of Clinical Investigation."

Burnatowska-Hledin has mentored more than 80 students in research during her time at Hope.  A number of the students who have worked with her have earned co-author credits on published articles related to their research, and the students in her research group regularly make presentations at national and regional professional society meetings.

Pearson has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2003.  The student nominators praised him for his conscientious approach to helping students understand material, coupled with an open-door policy; skillful advising informed by his concern for his students as individuals; and his focus as a research mentor in teaching about the process of mathematical research.

He teaches courses including calculus and algebra.  His research interests are in algebraic topology and algebra.  He has worked with undergraduates in research during the summers through National Science Foundation "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" grants held by the department of mathematics.