Helen White Wins 2017 Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
The associate professor of chemistry (and new KINSC director) is the fifth current member of her department to receive the award, which recognizes faculty who are outstanding educators and researchers with a $60,000 unrestricted research grant.
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies Helen White is one of only seven people, culled from nominations of early-stage faculty members across the country, honored with the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award this year. The award's $60,000 unrestricted research grant recognizes outstanding faculty who are accomplished in both teaching undergraduates and conducting scholarly research with them in the chemical sciences.
"I am grateful to be recognized by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation for my work at Haverford College," says White. "My collaborations with students in the classroom, lab, and field continually inspire my research and teaching."
White joined the Haverford faculty in 2009 as the College's first hire supporting the then-nascent Environmental Studies Program, which she has since helped develop. Starting July 1, she also became the director of the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC), the College's epicenter for scientific research, which is both the physical home for the related departments as well as their programming and funding functionary. Her research group at the College examines the persistence and transformation of organic contaminants in marine environments, with a focus on petroleum-based compounds, which has included fieldwork in the Gulf of Mexico where oil residues from the Deepwater Horizon spill are still present.
"We hope that our research findings will contribute to future oil-spill-response strategies and technologies," she says.
The Dreyfus Award will help continue to fund this work. It will support summer research stipends for Haverford students to collaborate with White on a range of multidisciplinary research projects. (Currently, they are working on projects at the interface between chemistry and oceanography, engineering, microbiology and computer science.) It will also fund the inclusion of these types of environmental research in introductory and advanced chemistry courses at Haverford.
White is the fifth current member of the Haverford Department of Chemistry to be honored with the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, which emphasizes the department—and the College's—core mission of coordinated teaching and research.
"The chemistry department has an impressive track record for integrating students into cutting-edge research," says White. "The four chemistry department faculty members who won this award previously provided me with mentorship and a variety of blueprints. I was able to understand how I might be able to integrate students into various aspects of a research program, as well as how to introduce research into the classroom. The entire Chemistry department has supported my work, and provided many ideas and suggestions while at the same time allowing me the freedom to be creative and pursue my own path."
The mission of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances throughout the world. Established in 1946 by chemist, inventor, and businessman Camille Dreyfus as a memorial to his brother Henry, the foundation became a memorial to both men when Camille Dreyfus died in 1956. Throughout its history, the nonprofit has taken a leading role in identifying and addressing needs and opportunities to advance the chemical sciences.