Campbell named Chemist of the Year by Heartland Section of the American Chemical Society

March 11, 2014

By Liz Cachey '15

Dr. Dean Campbell of the Mund-Lagowski Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was recently graced with the American Chemical Society’s distinguished Chemist of the Year Award. He is the first Bradley University faculty member to ever win this award.

According to its website, “With more than 161,000 members, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information.” One of the ACS’s self-proclaimed goals is “improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry,” which is mainly accomplished through educating the general public about the importance and relevance of chemistry in their everyday lives.

The ACS is divided into different sections throughout the nation based on geography. Bradley University, along with Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Eureka College, Knox College, Illinois College, and numerous community colleges, are part of the Illinois Heartland section of the ASC. Every year, individual schools within each ACS sections are asked to send in nominations, and based on each nominee’s scholarly research record, as well as the candidate’s record of service to their institution and the community, a winner is chosen by a selection committee composed of past section chairpersons.

Campbell, who received his doctorate from Northwestern University, has been involved with the ACS since he was a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he was president of the undergraduate chapter. When he came to Bradley, he became faculty advisor of the chemistry club.

In 2007, the BU Chem Club, led by Campbell, formed the Demo Crew, a group dedicated to quality science outreach to the public through the use of live scientific demonstrations. These demonstrations reach audience members who range in ages from “pre-k to gray.” Since its inception nearly seven years ago, more than 10,000 people have been a part of the Demo Crew’s work.

Campbell said that “over 100 undergraduate and graduate students have performed at the demonstration events since the Demo Crew formed.”

The demonstrations not only provide an educational experience for the audience members, but “by performing in these events, the university students gain a deeper understanding of the science behind the demonstrations, especially if they explain the demonstration to the audience.” It’s a learning experience for everyone.

“For these outreach activities and other efforts, the Chem Club has won various accolades from the National ACS over the years, and last year it was rated “outstanding” (highest level) for the first time in its history” Campbell said.

It is not only Campbell’s work with the Demo Crew that deemed him worthy of the Chemist of the Year Award. In a decade of work, he has published about 60 papers, of which about 40 have student coauthors.

“Professor Campbell’s research agenda encompasses cutting edge studies in nanoscience as well as developing innovative experiments and pedagogical methods for improving chemical education,” said Mund-Lagowski Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Dr. Kurt Field. “Dr. Campbell’s distinguished record of sustained, outstanding commitment to educating young people about chemistry and its impact on humanity are meritorious.”

Campbell was presented with the Chemist of The Year Award at the annual awards banquet, this year held in the Gateway Center in Peoria. Following the acceptance of the award, Campbell gave a 45-minute presentation about his work entitled “Chemical Outreach,” which included demos assisted by Donald Schorr, “a chemistry major from Bradley University graduating this spring who has done more outreach events than any other student.”

“For decades, the people of Bradley University, particularly those in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have supported efforts in chemistry education and science outreach,” Campbell said. “I am quite thankful for that support and glad to be a part of those efforts.”