David K. Lewis, the Margaret W. Kelly Professor of Chemistry at Connecticut College, has been named the 2012 winner of the American Chemical Society's Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution. The annual award honors a chemistry faculty member whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to chemistry and to the professional development of undergraduate students.
The award, which includes a $5,000 prize, will be presented to Lewis at the 243rd American Chemical Society National Meeting on March 27, 2012, in San Diego, Calif.
Lewis, a professor at Connecticut College since 1995 and an expert in physical chemistry, is deeply committed to fostering undergraduate research. He has published more than 40 journal articles, often with undergraduate co-authors, and has directed 40 consecutive summer research programs with undergraduates in his field, both at Connecticut College and at Colgate University, where he taught for 26 years. Lewis also served as interim president of Connecticut College in 2001.
In addition to research internships in his labs at Colgate and Connecticut College, Lewis also offers students internships at Aerodyne Research Inc., a research and consulting firm in Billerica, Mass., where he is an affiliated scientist. The firm studies air pollution, climate and energy, and the internships provide students with opportunities to research in an industrial setting, complementing their experiences in the College's academic laboratories.
"David Lewis is a prominent scientist who loves doing research alongside inquisitive young workers," Connecticut College chemistry professor Stanton Ching wrote in a letter recommending Lewis for the award. "His primary mission throughout his 40-year academic career has been to promote undergraduate research on the national level, at the undergraduate colleges he has served and in his own laboratories."
Ching also pointed out that Lewis makes a particular effort to offer research opportunities to women and minority students, two groups that are often underrepresented in the sciences. Erick Argueta '12 is one of those students. A participant in Connecticut College's Science Leaders program, designed to help students from underrepresented groups succeed in the sciences, Argueta is biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology major who has already completed two highly competitive research internships after beginning his research career in Lewis' lab.
"Professor Lewis is a brilliant chemist. He is able to conceptualize complex and intricate subject matters, and then present them in a way that his students are able to understand," Argueta said. "His love for chemistry is truly evident through his teaching."