‘Optimist by Nature’ Engages Scientific Senses as Doenges Scholar
By Morgan Alberts Smith
You can find Dr. Bassam Shakhashiri cited in Encyclopedia Britannica as “dean of lecture demonstrators in America.” He describes himself as ”scientist by training, teacher and public servant by trade, advocate by conviction, optimist by nature.” As professor of chemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the first holder of the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea, Shakhashiri shares his unique scientific presentations across the world … and this October with Mary Baldwin College.
Hosted by MBC’s own assistant professor of chemistry, Karl Zachary, Shakhashiri will give multiple presentations for the public and the MBC community on October 20 and 21. His unique perspective on the excitement of science and the types of careers available in science are brought to MBC as part of the Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar Series.
Zachary extended an invitation to local high school students so that they could experience Shakhashiri’s demonstrations, which sometimes include fire, fog, and something called Becker’s Multiple Ammonia Fountain.
Known internationally for his ability to promote excellence in science education at all levels, Shakhashiri, a native of Lebanon, earned an AB in chemistry from Boston University and a master’s degree in science and a PhD from University of Maryland. Also an advocate for policies to advance knowledge and to use science and technology to serve society, he promotes connections between science, the arts, the humanities, and society.
Many of his more than 1,300 invited lectures and presentations in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television programs across the world. He has appeared on NBC Nightly News, CNN, and Larry King Live, and is a regular guest on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio.
Shakhashiri is recipient of more than 35 awards, including Outstanding Lecturer of the Year in General Chemistry and the American Association for Advancement of Science Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology for “his tireless efforts to communicate science to the general public, and especially children.” He is also an elected fellow at academies of science across the country, and earned at least seven honorary doctoral degrees. Shakhashiri serves as a national and international consultant to government agencies, academic institutions, industry, and private foundations. To learn more about the engaging “dean of lecture,” visit his colorful Web site at http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu
and join the Mary Baldwin College community for events next week.
Get Ready for Shakhashiri
Although the experiments Doenges Artist/Scholar Bassam Shakhashiri will demonstrate are a surprise, we can tell you when to catch his public appearances:
SCIENCE IS FUN
(open to local high school students)
9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
CAREERS IN SCIENCE
Shakhashiri will also visit General Chemistry and Forensic Chemistry classes on campus, and Inquiry in the Natural Sciences — a Master of Arts in Teaching course — in Charlottesville.