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Chemists earn ACS honor

Madeline Miles | Friday, September 21, 2012

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently named Philip Bays, professor emeritus of chemistry at Saint Mary’s, and Anthony Serianni, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame as ACS Fellows. Bays said he is impressed with those previously distinguished as ACS Fellows and is humbled to be among that group.
 

“I viewed most of the nominees to have served in ACS governance for many years, or have been researchers who have made important discoveries, or have had significant impact on the public with their outreach work on behalf of chemistry,” Bays said. “I did not see myself in any of those categories.”

Bays said the national ACS Committee on Project SEED nominated him for the award. According to the ACS website, the Project SEED summer research program opens new doors for economically disadvantaged students to experience what it’s like to be a chemist.

For the past three summers, Bays has worked with Dr. Mary Prorok at Notre Dame to place economically disadvantaged students into summer research positions, he said.

“I saw the honor as a breakthrough in terms of recognizing people from small colleges who work so hard to teach and to mentor students and are so often overlooked when compared to people from larger organizations,” Bays said. “I also am excited that the honor places a spotlight on the accomplishments of the Project SEED program and the students who are mentored though it.”

Serianni said he was also honored to join an accomplished and distinguished group of ACS Fellows.

“I hope to be able to sustain the level of work that the ACS has chosen to acknowledge and expects will continue,” Serianni said.

He hopes the recognition will have a positive impact on science education at Notre Dame, he said.

“We are continuously striving to raise the quality and impact of our undergraduate and graduate science programs at Notre Dame,” Serianni said. “One metric of quality derives from the awards, distinctions and honors that faculty receive, especially from outside the University. I like to think that receiving this award contributes to this effort in a small but meaningful way.”

Serianni said he has many hopes for the future after achieving such an honor.

“I hope to share my experience as an academic researcher and entrepreneur with persons and groups outside the University more regularly, and perhaps transition into a community leader down the line where my scientific expertise can be put to more practical use,” Serianni said.

Serianni thanked his wife and family, students and collaborators, professors at Albright College and Michigan State, and coworkers at Omicron Biochemicals who all supported his research without any reservations.

“The truth about awards and honors is that you rarely see the externalities. Personal achievement, however defined, is misleading,” Serianni said. “It comes at costs paid by people who care about, support and encourage the honoree.”

Contact Madeline Miles at mmiles01@saintmarys.edu