The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Chemistry professor honored with award

Anna Nelson

An associate professor of chemistry recently won a selective award and brought distinction to the chemistry department and the university.

Jason Halfen was honored with the $60,000 Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The foundation is intended to encourage young chemists who combine academic research and teaching, Halfen said.

“I was quite pleased and humbled when I found out that I had received the award,” Halfen said. “I celebrated by spending the weekend steelhead fishing with two of my colleagues form the chemistry department.”

John Pladziewicz, chair of the chemistry department, described Halfen as bright, well-prepared, hard working, and committed to both teaching and scholarship.

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Pladziewicz said he nominated Halfen for the award because he has been especially productive involving undergraduates in published research and finding external funding to support the work.

“He is an excellent teacher and receives very positive evaluations from students,” Pladziewicz said. “He also works very well with his research students and other chemistry majors.”

Halfen’s involvement in research with students, quality teaching and leadership in department work has been very important to the advancement of the chemistry department. The award recognizes his exceptional work, and that the university supports his level of teaching and scholarship, said Pladziewicz.

“I try hard to get students to help each other learn by doing significant amounts of in-class, group learning exercises,” Halfen said. “Students often learn far better from each other than they can from me.”

Freshman Roberta Herrick who has Chemistry 101 with Halften this semester, said his teaching strategies are beneficial and effective. During labs he goes through each step so every student understands the concept and completes the experiment correctly, she said.

“In high school an equation would just be thrown at me, he goes through every step with a long explanation,” Herrick said.

The $60,000 award will provide student support in the form of full-time summer salaries and academic year financial support. Halften said it will also go toward supplies, equipment and travel associated with the research program.

Current research involves the development of new metal catalysts that are useful in promoting reactions of organic compounds.

In the five years Halfen has been at Eau Claire, he has received more than $250,000 in other grants from various funds and foundations.

He was awarded a Dreyfus Foundation Faculty Start-Up Grant in 1997 when he arrived at Eau Claire. That particular program provided funding for new faculty members at non-doctorate-granting institutions at the start of their research and teaching activities Halfen said.

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Chemistry professor honored with award