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UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley chemist Angelica Stacy receives national teaching award

– University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Chemistry Angelica Stacy was honored today (Tuesday, June 21) by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar (DTS).

Angelica Stacy
Angelica Stacy (Peg Skorpinski photo)

Stacy is one of seven leaders in research and education receiving the award for "having achieved not only groundbreaking results in research, but for major educational contributions at many levels, evidenced by their strong teaching and mentoring skills," according to the NSF. The awards, worth up to $300,000 over four years, were presented in an evening ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

"The awards are NSF's recognition of accomplishments by scientists and engineers whose roles as educators and mentors are considered as important as their ground-breaking results in research," said NSF's director, Arden L. Bement Jr. "We're proud of these scholars' deep sense of dedication to spreading their special research talents into many facets of the classroom, into many informal arenas of science, and to the public at large."

UC Berkeley's Alice Agogino, professor of mechanical engineering, was a recipient of the 2004 Distinguished Teaching Scholar award.

Evelyn L. Hu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and materials at the University of California-Santa Barbara, is among the seven. Other honorees are mathematicians William McCallum of the University of Arizona and Ken Ono of the University of Wisconsin; Robert P. H. Chang, a professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University; physics professor Edward F. (Joe) Redish of the University of Maryland; and geology professor Paul R. Bierman of the University of Vermont.

This is the fifth year for these high-prestige NSF awards, which were established in 2001 and, after today's announcement, now number 34. With the money from the grants, scholars may conduct further research and education activities, or start new ones, that benefit their individual fields and the students they support.

"These scholars are true pioneers, whose research is molded into the fabric of education in ways that will benefit many of tomorrow's young scientists," Bement said. "Beyond that, however, there will be many other students - not science or engineering majors - who will likely be influenced by these scholars as they enter the workforce, and because of what they have learned about the value of scientific inquiry, they will contribute to our society in many valuable ways."

Stacy, who also serves as associate vice provost for faculty equity at UC Berkeley, is involved in the chemical synthesis and characterization of new solid state materials with novel electronic and magnetic properties. She has developed new methods for using molten salts to synthesize oxide superconductors, for example. She also is involved in the discovery of new layered niobium oxide superconductors and in the fabrication of nanowire arrays for thermoelectric and magnetoresistive applications.

In the area of graduate, undergraduate and high school education, Stacy has published 11 articles. With the assistance of NSF grants, she developed a full-year high school chemistry course, Living by Chemistry, and created ChemQuery, a criterion-referenced assessment for tracking student learning. She also developed a new undergraduate course for non-science majors called Chemical Attractions, plus a course about learning and teaching chemistry, Communicating Chemistry, where undergraduate and graduate students go out to teach elementary students. The latter course spawned similar courses in physics, astronomy and ocean science at UC Berkeley.

Using the results from Living by Chemistry and ChemQuery, Stacy will use funds from the award to study how to design a textbook that builds upon and enhances the benefits of guided-inquiry instruction. The intellectual challenge is to create a textbook for use as a reference that best enhances students' learning in an inquiry-based classroom without preempting the discovery aspect of the pedagogical model. Prototype textbook chapters will be developed to study how students and teachers use the prototypes. Particular attention will be given to the use and effectiveness of illustrations. The effectiveness of the prototypes in improving student understanding will be monitored using ChemQuery.

Sen. Barbara Boxer and Angelica Stacy
Angelica Stacy (right) with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) following the presentation of the Distinguished Teaching Scholar awards. (Michelle Moskowitz / UC Berkeley)

Stacy received her B.A. from LaSalle College in physics and chemistry in 1977 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cornell University in 1981. After serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, she began her career at UC Berkeley in 1983. She has published over 120 refereed journal articles, many in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and the Journal of Solid State Chemistry. She has been a distinguished lecturer at Florida State University (2003), the University of Pittsburgh (2002) and Grinnell College (1999). She received the Catalyst Award from the Chemical Manufacturers Association and the Frances P. Garvin - John M. Olin Medal from the American Chemical Society. In 1984, she received the NSF's Presidential Young Investigator Award and, in 1991, the Faculty Award for Women Scientists and Engineers.

She was co-chair of the NSF's Presidential Young Investigators Workshop on U.S. Engineering, Mathematics and Science Education for the Year 2010 and Beyond (1990) and the Gordon Conference on Innovations in the Teaching of College Chemistry (1994). She was an essayist for the Carnegie Project and served on the National Research Council's Chemical Sciences Research Roundtable on Graduate Education.

A gifted teacher, Stacy began receiving honors while in graduate school and continued with such awards as UC Berkeley's Donald Sterling Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1996) and the American Chemical Society's James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Teaching of Chemistry (1998). She also received UC Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991 and was named to the Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education by the University of California's Office of the President from 1993 until 1997.