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Cottrell Scholars form Collaborative to promote research and education

CS CollaborativeResearch Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) and its 240-plus national cadre of Cottrell Scholars announce the creation of a new scientific community, the Cottrell Scholars' Collaborative (CSC). An initial slate of leaders has been selected. The Collaborative is being formed to help the Scholars, who are all physical scientists, to develop, promote and implement transformative initiatives for the integration of research and teaching at research universities across the country. "Educating students in science is hard, and particularly so in a university culture that often focuses more on research expectations or science faculty than on the commitment to science education," said RCSA President & CEO James M. Gentile. "The lone scientist dedicated to both his or her research as well as the students he or she teaches can easily become frustrated and disheartened. However, when joined with a community of kindred spirits, that singular voice is magnified, and culture change can occur. Our hope is that the Collaborative will help bring about much needed cultural change." At the recent Cottrell Scholars' annual meeting in Tucson, RCSA officials named a group of scientists to head the new Collaborative. Dr. Seth M. Cohen, professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, was named Chair of the organization. Besides Cohen, other Scholars named to the Collaborative's advisory committee include:
  • Dr. Rigoberto Hernandez, professor of chemistry at Georgia Tech;
  • Dr. Teri W. Odom, professor of chemistry at Northwestern University;
  • Dr. Mats A. Selen, professor of physics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign;
  • Dr. Jairo Sinova, professor of physics at Texas A&M University;
  • Dr. Bradley D. Smith, professor of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame.
"I am honored to have been selected as Chair," Cohen said. "The dual emphasis of research and teaching is essential to science advancement, and I look forward to helping make the Collaborative an important catalyst for promoting that combined focus and raising the prominence of scholar-educators throughout the nation." RCSA is immediately providing funds for two Collaborative-proposed projects that originated at the 2011 Cottrell Scholar Conference held July 6-8, 2011 in Tucson. One is to develop a practical and personal resource, in book and website form, offering advice for young faculty at research institutions so that they don't find themselves "reinventing the wheel." Initial proposed topics include: how to best develop courses, use new pedagogy, develop effective outreach and mentor students at diverse levels. It is anticipated that the book and website will provide cross-disciplinary materials for use in new-faculty workshops, and provide a potential springboard for a program of exchange visits of Cottrell Scholars to other institutions to share effective practices. The project was proposed by Penny Beuning, chemistry, Northeastern University; Scott Snyder, chemistry, Columbia University; and Dave Besson, physics & astronomy, University of Kansas. A second RCSA-funded Collaborative project aims to form a "Think and Do Tank." Its goal is to infuse the ideas and mission of the Collaborative into the public consciousness. A related goal is to establish the new organization as the voice from the "troops on the ground," for the integration of university research and education. The think tank will be composed of a steering committee, a working group and an advisory board, and it will issue an annual summary report of its data and findings to the overarching Cottrell Scholar community. The project was proposed by Jennifer Ross, physics, University of Massachusetts; Jim Martin, chemistry, North Carolina State University; Adam Leibovich, physics, University of Pittsburgh; Karen Bjorkman, astronomy, University of Toledo; Karl Mueller, chemistry, Penn State University; Tehshik Yoon, chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Catherine Murphy, chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Michael Hayden, physics, University of Maryland; Mike Hildreth, physics, University of Notre Dame; and Rory Waterman, chemistry, University of Vermont. In addition, RCSA will be turning over some responsibility for planning and implementing the annual Cottrell Scholars Conference to the Collaborative. This year's Conference participants selected a group of five to be part of the planning committee for the 2012 CS Conference: Rigoberto Hernandez, chemistry, Georgia Tech will be the chair; Mats Selen, physics, University of Illinois, is the co-chair. Other members are Andrew Feig, chemistry, Wayne State University; Linda Columbus, chemistry, University of Virginia; and Adam Leibovich, physics, University of Pittsburgh. The Cottrell Scholars Collaborative has been established on Facebook and Linkedin. This is not the first time RCSA has helped to launch a major academic group. In 1978 Foundation personnel played key roles in the creation of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). Today CUR is the nation's premier advocate for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Representatives from nearly 600 U.S. colleges and universities participate in CUR. The Cottrell Scholar Awards have been presented annually since 1994 by RCSA. The awards honor outstanding early career scientists in the physical sciences (astronomy, chemistry, and physics) for leadership in integrating science teaching and research at leading U.S. research universities.

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