August 7, 2002
Calvin Prof To Be Honored
Calvin College chemistry professor Ronald Blankespoor is one of eight faculty members from midwest colleges and universities scheduled to be honored by the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University in late September 2002.
Blankespoor will be honored on September 28 at the Symposium for Excellence in Undergraduate Chemical Research as a faculty member who not only excels as a researcher but also serves as a tireless mentor to students, encouraging their pursuit of careers in the sciences.
Blankespoor, who will be joined by colleagues at schools such as Denison, DePauw, Grinnell and Hope (whose Nicole Bennett is a 2002 honoree), says the award recognizes the role of research at the undergraduate level in preparing students for graduate school and careers in industry and academia.
"Many faculty in the sciences at Calvin," he says, "work on research projects with students that are supported by external grants and often result in articles that are published in peer-reviewed journals."
For the past decade or so, Blankespoor and his students have been studying a photochemical reaction that they discovered accidentally in connection with a totally unrelated research project.
"We found that a solution of an organic substance changed color upon standing in room light over several days," he says. "A quick search in the literature revealed that this was a new reaction and we were off and running on a project that subsequently received outside funding and has resulted in three articles in the Journal of Organic Chemistry and two articles in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
"A total of 17 students have worked on the project and each has his or her name on at least one publication. Twelve of these students went to graduate school and seven have received their Ph.D. degree. This photochemical work is a good example of how an unexpected result can completely change the direction of ongoing research."