Chemistry and Biochemistry

Staff and Faculty Recognized as Outstanding

Posted: Jan 26, 2011

After enjoying a festive meal among colleagues and friends, attention turned to the podium where Dean Sommerfeldt honored both staff and faculty members at the College’s annual awards banquet held on Friday, January 21.

Nine staff members from the College were given University Service Awards, based on how many years of service they have given to the university. From Chemistry and Biochemistry: Janet Fonoimoana (5 years); Wayne Anderson (15); Keith Kling (25); and Bruce Jackson (30). From Computer Science: Gordon Billings (5). From Physics and Astronomy: Mark Erickson (10); Wes Lifferth (30); Scott Daniel (35); and Wayne Peterson (35).
Following the service awards, the dean proceeded to announce the College award recipients. With a big smile, Kim Christensen accepted the Outstanding Staff/Administrative Employee award. His exceptional efforts and contributions as business manager in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry qualified him as a most worthy recipient. Christensen is known for balancing his responsibilities with great attention to detail.
Two Faculty Excellence in Teaching awards were also presented. Each year, one award is given to a professor who has been at BYU for three to ten years, and the second goes to a professor who has taught at BYU for ten or more years. This year’s recipient of the three-to-ten-year award was Jennifer Nielson, a gifted professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who has a knack for putting her students at ease in the classroom while boosting their confidence. She infuses her lectures with her passion for the subject, while still maintaining high academic rigor. Her students continually receive high scores on the American Chemical Society’s standardized examination.
Tim Leishman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy received the Faculty Excellence in Teaching award in the category of ten or more years. Whether giving instruction in general education, major, or graduate level courses, Leishman prepares lectures that are both intellectually enlarging and spiritually strengthening. The personal interest he takes in his students is witnessed by the extra help sessions he holds to answer questions and the one-on-one mentoring he provides for both graduates and undergraduates.  
The dean highlighted Leishman’s work for the LDS church.  
“When Tim was asked by the Church to help with the acoustics in the Conference Center,” Sommerfeldt said. “He involved about a dozen undergraduate students in taking measurements and teaching them to analyze and understand those measurements – an experience that many of them noted as a highlight of their education here.”
Due to his outstanding productivity since his arrival in 2005, Kent Gee of the Department of Physics and Astronomy was chosen as the recipient of the Faculty Young Scholar Award. Gee has shown deep commitment to mentoring students. In total, Gee has 22 peer-reviewed journal articles, 16 in process, and 6 more submitted and accepted — all with student co-authors.  
The College is not alone in recognizing Gee’s accomplishments. The Acoustical Society of America chose him as the recipient of the R. Bruce Lindsay Award, reserved for a particularly outstanding young member of the society under age 35. He has also received over $1,000,000 in external funding since 2005.
Paul Farnsworth was chosen to receive the Distinguished Citizenship award. He first served as associate chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, then for six more years as the chair.
His focus on the university’s mission and goal for excellence in teaching has driven him to treat all faculty and staff with respect, and also to continually offer his excellent talents and services. The dean noted evidence for this in how Farnsworth volunteered to take on a demanding teaching assignment this semester to help the department meet their needs.
“Even with significant citizenship assignments,” Sommerfeldt continued, “Paul has not only been effective in those assignments, but has also maintained high standards in his teaching and has maintained an active research program that has been highly regarded.”
"There are many deserving faculty in the college," Dean Sommerfeldt concluded. He hopes in the future to recognize many more.
Service Award Recipients, L to R: Christensen, Daniel, Erickson, Peterson, Lifferth, Fonomioana, Billings, and Anderson
Top Photo, College Award Recipients, L to R: Christensen, Farnsworth, Gee, Leishman, and Nielson
By Natalie Wilson, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences