George C. Pimentel Award In Chemical Education | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 1 | p. 30 | Awards
Issue Date: January 2, 2012

George C. Pimentel Award In Chemical Education

Department: ACS News
Keywords: awards
Credit: Portrait Gallery, Bella Pictures
Diane M. Bunce, Catholic University of America, chemistry professor.
Credit: Portrait Gallery, Bella Pictures

Sponsored by Cengage Learning and friends and colleagues of George & Jeanne Pimentel

Catholic University of America chemistry professor Diane M. Bunce is described by her colleagues as a national treasure in chemical and science education.

“She is equally known for her work with and mentoring of chemical educators, for exceptional teaching, and for her excellence in the dissemination of chemistry knowledge both in and out of the classroom,” says Judith M. Iriarte-Gross, chemistry professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

Bunce exemplifies professionalism, intellectual rigor, and generosity, adds Patrick Daubenmire, a former graduate student of Bunce’s and now an assistant professor in the chemistry department at Loyola University Chicago.

“Because of her leadership and trust, I can participate confidently in the field of chemical education research,” he remarks. “I am proud to have been her protégé and even more proud to be a colleague with her in the field of chemical education.”

Bunce has won many awards for developing engaging instructional techniques for chemistry educators around the world, and she uses these with her students. “My mission has always been to demystify the teaching and learning of chemistry for both students and teachers,” she says. “I believe wholeheartedly that since chemistry is a human endeavor, anyone who wants to learn chemistry should be able to.”

Her creative approach to teaching includes a variety of holiday-themed lectures on the chemical reactions in everyday life. “It is really fun to help people see that there is chemistry behind why we eat mashed potatoes and not mashed paper towels at Thanksgiving or why we add vinegar to the food coloring we use to dye eggs at Easter,” Bunce says.

“If we do our job right and teach people that chemistry is already part of their lives and is understandable by anyone who is curious, then we will have been successful in providing them with another filter for looking at the world,” she adds.

Bunce says she was deeply touched upon learning that she had won ACS’s national award for outstanding contributions to chemical education. “I see this award as something I share with all of my colleagues both past and present who work tirelessly to improve the teaching-learning experience for students and teachers alike,” she remarks. “We all share the goal that understanding chemistry is vital to a person’s life in a democratic society where political issues often have a scientific underpinning.”

Bunce received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Le Moyne College in 1972, an M.A. in teaching from Cornell University in 1973, and a Ph.D. in chemical education from the University of Maryland in 1984. She joined the faculty of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., as lecturer in 1985 and has remained there for her entire academic career, being promoted to professor in 2006.

Bunce has published numerous journal articles and is the founding editor of the Chemical Education Research section of ACS’s Journal of Chemical Education. She coauthored the books “Nuts and Bolts of Chemical Education Research” (Vol. 976) and “Survival Handbook for the New Chemistry Instructor.” She has also contributed chapters to many other books that provide insights into how students learn chemistry.

Bunce will deliver the award address before the ACS Division of Chemical Education.

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