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Retired(?) professor wins grant for student mentoring 2010-04-14

Category: News

Cynthia Jameson
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Paul Francuch
Cynthia Jameson, professor emeritus of chemistry, is UIC’s first faculty member to receive the Dreyfus award, which honors science mentors.

Photo: Kathryn Marchetti

Cynthia Jameson, professor emeritus of chemistry and adjunct professor of chemical engineering, is one of 12 winners of the Senior Science Mentor award for 2010 by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences.

The annual award goes to emeritus faculty selected from applicants submitted by colleges and universities across the United States.

No longer a classroom lecturer but still conducting research with both undergraduate and graduate students, Jameson became emeritus four years ago.

She’s always enjoyed being a mentor to students and looks forward to working with one or two undergraduates each semester through the Dreyfus award.

“I especially like to work with undergraduates who have a real interest in what they are learning and who are passionate about understanding,” she says. “Research can give the student a very different outlook on their classroom studies, making the latter much more relevant and exciting.

“I believe every science and engineering student should participate in research to enrich their university experience.”

The first UIC faculty member to receive the Dreyfus award, Jameson will receive $20,000 to support an undergraduate research project entitled “Modeling and observation of molecular transport across model membranes.”

Her research guidance will focus on how intermolecular interactions determine thermophysical properties; on fundamental biological processes such as transport across membranes; and engineering applications such as separations and sensor design.

“The actual research project a particular student will be working on will depend to a great extent on the student’s interests,” she says.

Jameson is one of the few women to ever win the Dreyfus award — perhaps, she says, “simply because there have not been many women faculty in chemistry or chemical engineering departments of the generation old enough to be emeritus.”

In addition to doing research, Jameson remains active in efforts to promote better working environments for women faculty in the sciences and engineering.

“When I was a struggling assistant professor, it was extremely rare to find women faculty in science and engineering departments. The situation has changed over the 40-odd years since, but the questions are still ‘Why so slow?’ and ‘Why so few?’” she says.

A just-released study by the American Association of University Women on the underrepresentation of women in science and math found that while gains have been made, stereotypes and cultural biases still impede success.

“I work with other UIC faculty to do what we can do to improve the climate for women,” she says.