Issue Date: January 2, 2006
ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences
Sponsored by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation
Catherine H. Middlecamp has an "unswerving sense of purpose," says Lucy P. Eubanks, a lecturer at Clemson University. "Supporting, mentoring, encouraging, and advocating for women in chemistry has been at the heart of her career for more than 25 years."
Eubanks adds that Middlecamp "has worked to bring women's issues to the programs of national professional meetings, created scholarship on the role of women in science, and designed chemistry courses and teaching materials more inclusive of women."
Middlecamp, 55, grew up on Long Island, N.Y. "Since day one, I wanted to teach, and I thought I was going to be a high school teacher." She graduated from Cornell University in 1972 with a B.A. in chemistry and completed her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry four years later at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
She returned to the chemistry department at Wisconsin in 1979 to teach nonmajors and has been there ever since. She directs the Chemistry Learning Center, where six staff members help students with difficulties in first- and second-year chemistry classes. "To work with the whole student, not just the student solving the chemistry problem, I needed a little bit more training," she says. Therefore, in 1989, she completed an M.S. degree at Wisconsin in the School of Education.
"Cathy was one of the first to discuss the issues of educating students with disadvantaged backgrounds and the promotion of women in science," says John C. Wright, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin. He notes that female students seek her out on a regular basis.
In part, Middlecamp directs her efforts toward individual students and in part toward the larger system. For both, she is working to engage people-especially women-in learning science. Students want to get into meaningful careers, she explains, so she helps them see how chemistry offers that possibility.
She feels strongly enough about the importance of teaching chemistry to nonmajors that she has been a coauthor of four editions of "Chemistry in Context." "Her passion and convictions for encouraging this important group of students helped to bring a new clarity and direction to the project," says Eubanks, the textbook's editor-in-chief.
Middlecamp is currently the program chair for the ACS Division of Chemical Education. She has won awards for her work, including several teaching awards from the University of Wisconsin and the 2002 Women Chemists Committee Regional Award for Contributions to Diversity. In 2003, she was named a fellow to both the Association for Women in Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The award address will be presented before the Women Chemists Committee.—Rachel Petkewich
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