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Chemist William Polik to Receive
Research Mentoring Award

Posted September 23, 2003

HOLLAND – Dr. William Polik of the Hope College faculty is one of only eight chemists from throughout the nation being honored during the “Excellence in Undergraduate Chemical Research Symposium” being held by the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University in Bloomington on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Now in its third year, the annual event recognizes faculty from four-year colleges who have made significant contributions to research and to the mentorship of chemistry undergraduates. In conjunction with the recognition, the honorees will each receive a plaque and commendation in addition to making an invited talk during the symposium. Polik will present “Spectroscopy and Quantum Mechanics of Highly Excited Molecules.”

Polik is the Edward and Elizabeth Hofma Professor of Chemistry at Hope, where he has taught since 1988.

A specialist in physical chemistry, he uses lasers to study the details of chemical reactions, and maintains an active research program that involves Hope students. During his time at the college, he has received 40 grants and awards in support of his research, has given 44 invited seminars and has written 43 articles—including 15 co-authored with 20 Hope students who have worked with him on his research.

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 has involved 48 students in his research program since 1988, of whom 10 now have Ph.D. degrees, eight have master’s degrees and five 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.

In addition, he is a strong advocate for undergraduate research and education at the national level. He is a member of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Professional Training, having served as editor of the “Supplement on Undergraduate Research” and editor of the most recent edition of “The Guidelines.” He is a past member of the ACS DivChed committee that helped develop the latest set of physical chemistry national examinations. He currently serves as chairperson of the Beckman Scholar Program Executive Committee, which distributes more than $1 million annually in undergraduate research fellowships.

Polik received the “Provost’s 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. In 1991, he received a prestigious “Presidential Young Investigator Award” from the National Science Foundation.

He joined the Hope faculty 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.

He graduated from Dartmouth University in 1982. He holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

In addition to Polik, those being honored during the symposium are: Thomas Clayton of Knox College in Illinois, Andrew Leavitt of State University of West Georgia, Lisa Lewis of Albion College, Robert Milosky of Fort Lewis College in Colorado, Lisa Szczepura of Illinois State University, Thomas Smith of Williams College in Massachusetts and Carl Wigal of Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. The symposium will also feature a keynote address by Bruce Roth, vice president of Pfizer GRD, who discovered the cholesterol drug Lipitor.

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