UIC chemist receives prestigious George C. Pimentel Award in chemical education

Donald Wink

Donald J. Wink, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois Chicago, was named the recipient of the 2024 American Chemical Society’s George C. Pimentel Award in Chemical Education. The award is supported by an endowed fund established by the ACS Division of Chemical Education and the Board of Publications, which also supports the Journal of Chemical Education and ChemEdX.

The George C. Pimentel Award recognizes outstanding contributions in training professional chemists, integrating chemistry into an education system and disseminating chemistry knowledge to members of the profession, students in other fields and the general public.

“Simply put, Dr. Donald Wink not only embodies the very spirit of this award, but he has surpassed the standard of it by any conceivable measure,” said Stacey Lowery Bretz, dean of Ohio Northern University’s Getty College of Arts and Sciences and the lead nominator for the award. “His contributions to the American Chemical Society, to science education in the Chicago Public Schools and to environmental justice for Chicago neighborhoods are exemplary.”

Wink’s work in chemical education has led to multiple innovations in teaching. This includes work to develop course-based undergraduate research experiences through the Center for Authentic Science Practice in Education, something that later became the basis of his work with entering UIC students in the university’s Presidents Award Program STEM Initiative, “CoLab” program. His collaborations with UIC faculty in learning sciences, teacher education, physics, biology and mathematics have generated new textbooks and longstanding course reforms for UIC’s pre-service science teachers. This work has helped secure nearly $17 million in National Science Foundation funding as a principal investigator and a co-principal investigator.

Many of these projects, including current NSF S-STEM and NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate grants, have involved collaborations to provide dozens of UIC undergraduate and graduate students with scholarship and traineeship support. Outside of UIC, his leadership through the ACS Society Committee on Education created the General Chemistry Performance Expectations has transformed the pedagogy of chemistry faculty at multiple institutions, thus improving their learning. Chicago Public Schools routinely seeks Wink’s expertise through formal partnerships. His current CPS collaborations include a $1.5 million NSF grant for chemistry teachers to develop assessments and make instructional decisions aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

“Everything I have achieved is linked through my connections with the city of Chicago and my colleagues and students at UIC,” Wink said. “I have also been given the opportunity to change lives by working with teachers in the Chicago Public School system. I am honored to receive this award and feel it also belongs to my students and colleagues, as this was a collective effort in furthering the diversity of learners in the field of chemistry.”

Professor Wink will be honored at the ACS Spring National Meeting in March 2024.

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