posted August 3, 2010

Chemist William Polik Named ACS Fellow

 Dr. William F. Polik, who is the Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor of Chemistry at Hope College, has been named a 2010 ACS Fellow by the American Chemical Society.

The ACS Fellows program recognizes members of the professional organization for demonstrated excellence in the chemical sciences and outstanding service to the ACS.  Fellows come from the entire breadth of ACS's membership, which exceeds 161,000 worldwide, and the chemical enterprise - including high school teaching, entrepreneurship, government service, and all sectors of industry and academia.

This is the second year in the ACS Fellows program.  Although most of this year's 192 fellows are educators, only three, including Polik, are from primarily four-year liberal arts colleges.  Polik was one of eight scientists from Michigan honored, including from Hope, Central Michigan University, the Michigan Molecular Institute, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

"We are very proud of Will for this exceptional recognition by the ACS. He has distinguished himself in the chemistry community. His work in undergraduate research and in serving the chemistry community has brought major recognition to the department and the college," said Dr. Moses Lee, who is dean for the natural and applied sciences and a professor of chemistry at Hope.

The 2010 ACS Fellows will be honored at a special ceremony during the ACS National Meeting in Boston, Mass., on Monday, Aug. 23.  A listing of the Fellows is also being included in the national "Chemical & Engineering News" professional journal this month.

"Whether it's making new materials, finding cures for disease or developing energy alternatives, these Fellows are scientific leaders, improving our lives through the transforming power of chemistry," said ACS President Dr. Joseph S. Francisco. "They are also consummate volunteers who contribute tirelessly to the community and the profession."

Polik has been an active advocate at the national level for undergraduate research and education in a variety of ways, including his extensive involvement in the ACS and active undergraduate research program at Hope.  He served on the national Committee on Professional Training (CPT) of the ACS from 2000 through 2008, including as vice chair in 2005 and as chair from 2006 to 2008.  As chair, Polik led the committee in developing new national guidelines for undergraduate chemistry education that promote program innovation and interdisciplinary learning.

In the fall of 2005, he organized a symposium on "Envisioning Undergraduate Chemistry Education in 2015," held during the national ACS meeting in Washington, D.C.  He is also a past member of the ACS DivCHED committee that helped develop the current set of physical chemistry national examinations and is past chairperson of the Beckman Scholar Program Executive Committee, which distributes more than $1 million annually in undergraduate research fellowships.

Through the years Polik has received a variety of national awards both in support and recognition of his research in physical chemistry and for his teaching.

In 2009 he received the James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeastern Section of the ACS (NESACS).  He was elected a Fellow of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2006.

He was named a "Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Scholar" for 2004, and in the fall of 2003 he was one of only eight chemists in the nation to be honored during the first "Excellence in Undergraduate Research Symposium" at IndianaUniversity.  In 1991, he received a prestigious "Presidential Young Investigator Award" from the National Science Foundation.

Polik has been especially committed to involving undergraduate research students in his research program, with between three and five students typically conducting research at any given time.  He uses lasers to measure the details of chemical reactions and computers to model chemical properties.  Since joining the Hope faculty, Polik has received 46 grants and awards totaling more than $2 million in support of his research, has given 77 invited seminars and has written 63 articles--including 18 co-authored with 26 Hope students who have worked with him on his research.

During his time at Hope, Polik's research program has involved more than 60 students, of whom 16 now have Ph.D. degrees, seven have master's degrees and eight are currently in graduate school. Three of his research students have been awarded National Science Foundation or Department of Defense postdoctoral fellowships, and three have been awarded the college's top prize for creativity in independent research.

The division for the natural and applied sciences at Hope presented Polik with its inaugural "Dean's Science Division Faculty Research Award" in 2007.  He received the "Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching" - now called the "Janet L. Andersen Award for Excellence in Teaching"--at Hope in 1999, the same year that he received the Sigma Xi Award for Scientific Outreach at the college.

He joined the Hope faculty in 1988 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1994 and full professor in 2000, and appointed to his endowed chair in 2001.

Polik graduated from Dartmouth College in 1982 and holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Founded in 1876, the ACS is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.