Geologist receives prestigious National Science Foundation award for research and teaching

06/23/05

Paul Bierman, professor of geology at the University of Vermont, is one of seven recipients of the highest honor bestowed by the National Science Foundation for excellence in teaching and research. Bierman was recognized at a special ceremony held June 21 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

The Director's Distinguished Teaching Scholars award honors investigators who achieve groundbreaking results in research, display strong teaching and mentoring skills, and make major educational contributions. New funding for research and education activities accompanies the honor; Bierman will receive $300,000 over four years to support the Landscape Change Program, an online database of historical images.

"The awards are NSF's recognition of accomplishments by scientists and engineers whose roles as educators and mentors are considered as important as their ground-breaking results in research," said NSF director, Arden Bement, Jr. "We're proud of these scholars' deep sense of dedication to spreading their special research talents into many facets of the classroom, into many informal arenas of science and to the public at large."

"We're thrilled and proud that Paul Bierman's terrific work as both a researcher and a teacher has been given the recognition it so strongly deserves," said John Bramley, UVM provost. "This highly prestigious award is yet another indication of the caliber of our faculty at UVM and of our philosophy and approach, which put students, beginning in their first year, in close contact with some of the world's most distinguished scholars."

The NSF has given 34 research and education awards since the program began in 2001. In addition to Bierman, the 2005 class of honorees comprises: Robert P. H. Chang, professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University; Evelyn Hu, professor of electrical and computer engineering and materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara; mathematics professor William McCallum of the University of Arizona; mathematics professor Ken Ono of the University of Wisconsin; physics professor Edward (Joe) Redish of the University of Maryland; and chemistry professor Angelica Stacy of the University of California, Berkeley. In past years winning faculty have come from such institutions as Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Tufts University, and Boston University.

Bierman has been at the forefront of geomorphology research, documenting the rates of processes active at the Earth's surface. He was among the first to apply cutting-edge geochemistry processes to study Earth's bare-rock and soil-covered surfaces across widely differing climates. He has brought together many students to assist in publishing papers and to study how humans and landscapes interact. He has also mentored high school teachers and graduate teaching assistants. His new award will help extend work on a previous NSF grant that created a Web-based archive of more than 10,000 historical images. It will include a research demonstration that brings together students with science and images, as well as new Web tools that will facilitate learning and research. Bierman will also pursue a nationwide effort to disseminate this image-based approach to learning.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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