Issue Date: July 20, 2009
Priestley Medalist Richard Zare
The ACS Board could not have selected a more deserving individual than Richard N. Zare as the 2010 Priestley Medalist (C&EN, June 15, page 5). As described in Celia Arnaud's article, Zare's record of scientific accomplishment and public service is exceeded by none. What is absent from the article, however, are Zare's contributions to education, as evidenced at the least by his receipt of three prestigious awards: the 2004 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry, the 2006 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Distinguished Professor Award, and the 2008 ACS George C. Pimentel Award for Chemical Education.
He won these awards not because he's developed new methodologies, written popular textbooks, or for many of the other important activities that are considered to strengthen chemistry education. As testimonials I have seen from scores of Zare's current and former students make abundantly clear, he won them because he has inspired, engaged, stimulated, encouraged, and propelled students at every level to reach if not exceed apparent limits of their intellectual capabilities. Not only has he affected the lives of students (and colleagues), but he has also changed the lives of many. In doing so, he has enabled students to take responsibility for their own learning-the very outcome that "active learning" seeks to achieve.
Zare's accomplishments need to be seen not as separate contributions to research, public service, and education, but in their totality as service to humanity. That's the reason he deserves the Priestley Medal.
Robert L. Lichter
Great Barrington, Mass.
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