Conferences & Events

Cottrell Scholar Conference

18th-Annual Conference (2012)

Mutual Concern, Inspiration and Renewal:
The 18th-Annual Cottrell Scholar Conference

“Educating 21st Century Scientists,” the topic of the 18th-annual gathering of the national Cottrell Scholar Collaborative, recently drew 60 scholar-educators to the Arizona desert to share their experiences, challenges and initiatives to reform undergraduate science teaching in America’s research universities.

RCSA Program Director Silvia Ronco and Cottrell Scholar Rigoberto Hernandez, Chemistry Department at the Georgia Institute of Technology, served as chairs of the conference.

The Cottrell Scholar Collaborative is an inclusive, cross-disciplinary group of more than 250 outstanding teacher/scholars who have received Cottrell Scholar awards since the start of the RCSA-funded program in 1994.

This year’s conference participants took part in extensive networking and breakout sessions. Many Scholars were involved in preparing collaborative proposals – team proposals with ideas that emerged at the conference. RCSA will soon announce the award of four $25,000 grants to winning teams whose proposals are judged to have the potential for significant impact at the department or institutional level or that connect with national education initiatives.

Several wide-ranging dialog sessions during the conference were led by Elizabeth McCormack, professor of physics at Bryn Mawr College. The discussion methodology closely follows that pioneered several years ago in RCSA’s Scialog® Conference. It seeks to foster the open, non-judgmental exchange of views and hypotheses with emphasis on creativity and innovation rather than the argumentation and debate often found at other scientific conferences.

Among the numerous conference discussions, one highlighted Cottrell Scholar Goeffrey Hutchison’s development of Avogadro, interactive software to train research students in the fundamentals of science computation. Avogadro is freely available shareware that allows students to predict how atoms and molecules behave in newly created materials.

Conference Advisory Committee

The conference planning committee was chaired by Hernandez and co-chaired by Mats Selen, Physics Department, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Committee members included Linda Columbus, Chemistry Department, University of Virginia; Andrew Feig, Chemistry Department, Wayne State University; and Adam Leibovich, Physics Department, University of Pittsburgh.

Keynote Lectures

Michael Schatz, a professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, discussed challenges and opportunities in science education. View Presentation (PDF, 780KB)

Tobin Smith, American Association of Universities (AAU) vice president for policy, discussed the AAU initiative on reforming undergraduate STEM education.

Celeste Rohlfing, deputy assistant director for the Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF, presented STEM workforce issues from the NSF perspective. View Presentation (PDF, 1MB)

Luis Echegoyen, the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry at the University of Texas, El Paso, discussed carbon materials and the serendipity of discovery.

New Scholars’ Presentations

The formal program included 10-minute talks by Cottrell Scholars who presented their educational activities and discussed their dream outcomes:

  1. Alberto Bolatto, Dept. of Astronomy, University of Maryland, CS 2010. View Presentation (PDF, 2.6MB)
  2. Erin Carlson, Dept. of Chemistry, Indiana University, CS 2012 – “Chemoselective Enrichment Tools for Natural Products Discovery”
  3. William Dichtel, Dept. of Chemistry, Cornell University, CS 2012 –“Predictable Assembly of Ordered Heterojunctions Using Covalent Organic Frameworks”
  4. Kingshuk Ghosh, Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, University of Denver, CS 2012 –“Designing Biological Toys: Genetic Switches and Clocks”. View Presentation (PDF, 910KB)
  5. Seth Herzon, Dept. of Chemistry, Yale University, CS 2012 – Synthetic and Chemical Biological Studies of Lomaiviticins A and B”
  6. Eric Hudson, Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, University of California, CS 2012 – “Keeping Time with the Nucleus: A solid-State Optical Clock Based on a Nuclear Transition”
  7. Geoffrey Hutchison, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Pittsburg, CS 2012 – “Molecular Piezoelectrics: Building Responsive Electromechanical Materials from the Bottom Up”. View Presentation (PDF, 900KB)
  8. Daisuke Nagai, Dept. of Physics, Yale University, CS 2012 – “Computational Cosmology in Classrooms and in Research”. View Presentation (PDF, 810KB)
  9. Sarah Reisman, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, CS 2012 – “The Development and Application of Heterocycle Forming Reactions in Natural Product Total Synthesis”
  10. Kyle Shen, Dept. of Physics, Cornell University, CS 2010. View Presentation (PDF, 1MB)
  11. Sara Skrabalak, Dept. of Chemistry, Indiana University, CS 2012 – “New Synthetic Strategies to Multi-Metal Nanocrystals with Controlled Compositions and Structures”
  12. J.D. Smith, Dept. of Physics, University of Toledo, CS 2012 – “After the Fall – Why Galaxies Die, and How”

Collaborative Team Presentations

The formal program also included presentations by collaborative teams funded after last year’s Cottrell Scholars Conference:

New Workshop for Chemistry Faculty,” Principal Investigators: Andrew Feig (Wayne State University) and Rory Waterman (University of Vermont). View Presentation (PDF, 140KB)

“Cottrell Scholar Collaborative Think and Do Tank,” Principal Investigators: Jim Martin (North Carolina State University) and Jennifer Ross (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

“Effective Practices in Learning and Pedagogy from Cottrell Scholars,” David Besson (University of Kansas), Penny Beuning (Northeastern University) and Scott Snyder (Columbia University)

Cottrell Scholar Award Recipients

The following received Cottrell Scholar Awards during the conference’s opening night ceremonies:

Alberto Bolatto, Erin Carlson, John Cerne, William Dichtel, Kingshuk Ghosh, Michael Gladders, Boyd Goodson, Martin Gruebele, Seth Herzon, Eric Hudson, Geoffrey Hutchison, Matt McIntosh, Daisuke Nagai, Ed Nowak, Sarah Reisman, Michael Schatz, Kyle Shen, Sara Skrabalak, Dennis Smith, JD Smith, David Spivak, Yadong Yin.




Celebration Video



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