Spain Wins Prestigious Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award
Eileen Spain, an associate professor of chemistry at Occidental College, is one of seven chemistry professors nationwide to receive a 2003 Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.
The award comes with a $60,000 unrestricted grant – $10,000 that will be split between the college and the chemistry department and $50,000 of which will be applied to Spain’s research into communities of bacteria and other microbes called biofilms.
“They’re found in nature from ship hulls to water pipes to lung tissue,” said Spain, who has taught at Occidental since 1995. “Consequently, biofilms are a public health and economic issue. We want to unravel the chemistry and biology of removing a biofilm, and have found a perfect candidate in the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.” Her research project with collaborators and Occidental undergraduates is titled “Interfacial chemistry of microbial processes relevant to biofilms and nanotechnology.” The grant will allow Spain to provide laboratory space, money, time and mentorship to students who wish to work with her and colleagues in the research.
“We are, of course, delighted that Eileen and her educational and scientific work have been deservedly singled out for this very prestigious award,” said Chris Craney, associate dean and chair of the biochemistry program. “This is yet another example of the kind of national recognition our undergraduate research program receives on a regular basis.” The program – recipient of a 1998 National Science Foundation Integration of Research and Education Award – was cited as one of the country’s best in a 2001 study of undergraduate research sponsored by a consortium of private foundations.
Spain is the second Occidental chemist in three years to win a Dreyfus. Associate Professor of Chemistry Michael Hill was a 2001 Teacher-Scholar selection. The awards are bestowed annually by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation to young tenure-track chemists who provide outstanding teaching and mentoring in undergraduate research. Other 2003 Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars include faculty at Mount Holyoke, Oberlin and Swarthmore colleges.