posted March 13, 2012

Hope Science Division Honors Two Professors

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

Dr. Aaron Cinzori, who is an associate professor of mathematics and chairperson of the department, has received the “Mary J. DeYoung Faculty Mentoring, Advising and Teaching Award.”  Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, who is an assistant professor of chemistry and Towsley Research Scholar, has received the “James N. Boelkins Research Promise Award.”  Both awards were announced during a luncheon at the college on Thursday, March 8.

The “Mary J. DeYoung Faculty Mentoring, Advising and Teaching Award” recognizes a faculty member who is exceptional in classroom teaching and instruction, research mentoring, and advising either academically, for career, or with student clubs and organizations.  The winner is selected by a panel of students.  The award was renamed earlier this year in honor of DeYoung, who died in July 2011 at age 58 due to cancer.

The “James N. Boelkins Research Promise Award” rotates in alternate years between junior and senior faculty, and is presented based on criteria including publication, grant awards, significant presentations at professional meetings, and external awards or other recognition from professional organizations and societies. The winner is chosen by an anonymous panel of faculty members from among nominees by the division’s department chairs and the dean.  It is named in honor of Dr. James N. Boelkins, who retired as the college’s provost in 2010.

The student nomination celebrated Cinzori on each of the award’s measures, noting, “His enthusiasm for math, for teaching, and for his students is as infectious as his laugh, and truly embodies the spirit of Hope College and this award.”

In teaching, the nomination said, he is attentive to student comprehension and dedicated to increasing students’ confidence in mathematics, and consistently available to help outside of class—and not least of all is willing to keep the tone light by occasionally starting a class period with mathematics-themed poetry.  As a research mentor, the nomination continued, he achieves an admirable balance between offering support and promoting independence.  He was praised as an advisor on multiple levels, including working with individual mathematics majors and non-majors alike, in addition to involvement with the “Geek Life” student organization and the Math Club.

Cinzori has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2001, and has been serving as chairperson of the department since the fall of 2010.  He teaches courses for mathematics majors as well as for non-majors, a range that across the past two years has included Advanced Differential Equations, Calculus I, College Geometry, a First-Year Seminar and Introductory Statistics.  He also involves students in his ongoing research program during both the academic year and the summer.

He did both his undergraduate work and his graduate work at Michigan State University, completing bachelor’s degrees in English and mathematics in 1990, a Master of Science degree in mathematics in 1993 and a doctorate in mathematics in 1998.  Prior to coming to Hope he taught at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

Johnson has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2007.  His research, on which he works collaboratively with Hope students during both the school year and summer, is on developing new organic reactivity catalyzed by transition metals.

He has received more than $1 million in external funding since coming to the college.  His grants have included an Undergraduate New Investigator Grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund (ACS-PRF); a five-year Camille and Henry Dreyfus Faculty Start-Up Award; a Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Award; a National Science Foundation (NSF) - Major Research Instrumentation award for a remotely accessible 400 MHz NMR spectrometer; and, earlier this year, a major award through the NSF’s “Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.”  In addition, the college named him a Towsley Research Scholar in January 2010, providing additional institutional support for his research program for four years.

He completed his bachelor’s degree at Gustavus-Adolphus College in 2000, and his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin in 2004.  Prior to coming to Hope, he served as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Colorado State University.