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Cooks wins a Dreyfus Prize, $250K



April 25 was a huge day for College of Science faculty. Many were honored at the Purdue Faculty Awards Convocation while one was named as just the third chemist to win the coveted Dreyfus Prize.

Chemistry’s Prof. R. Graham Cooks was announced as the 2013 winner of the Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, this year awarded in the field of chemical instrumentation.

"I am particularly pleased by the fact that the Foundation chose Chemical Instrumentation as the topic of the prize," Cooks stated, "because it is an emphatic recognition of the importance of instrumentation in the chemical enterprise. This has been one focus of the chemistry research effort at Purdue for some 50 years, so the 2013 Prize is a recognition of the subject and the institution, more than an individual."

Cooks is only the third winner of the biennial prize, which consists of a citation, a medal and a monetary award of $250,000. The longtime Purdue Chemistry professor said the honor ranks as a major career highlight.

"Right at the top of the list. I was fortunate to get a scholarship that plucked me from the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, and landed me in Cambridge, UK, in 1965," Cooks said. "This has similar emotional impact."

The Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences is awarded to an individual in a selected area of chemistry to recognize exceptional and original research that has advanced the field in a major way. Cooks was nominated for his impact in mass spectrometry and instrumentation development, which he has conducted in the Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry since 1976. Wetherill was dedicated as a National Historic Chemistry Landmark by the American Chemical Society on April 25.

The inaugural Dreyfus Prize was awarded to George Whitesides of Harvard University in the field of materials chemistry, honoring the accomplishments of the Dreyfus brothers, Camille and Henry. The second Dreyfus Prize was awarded to Tobin Marks of Northwestern University in the field of catalysis. In this, Cooks certainly keeps good company.

Back on Purdue campus, Cooks also received the F.A. Cotton Medal for Excellence in Chemical Research at the Faculty Awards Convocation.

A host of other College of Science faculty picked up an array of awards at the convocation as well. Honors and awards going to Science faculty were:

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship: Adam Wasserman, Chemistry.

American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows: Mahdi Abu-Omar, Chemistry; Vincent Davisson, Chemistry; David Nolte, Physics; Ian Shipsey, Physics; Gabriela Weaver, Chemistry.

Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Scientists: Anthony Hosking, Computer Science; Ninghui Li, Computer Science.

Association for Computing Machinery Fellow: Ahmed Elmagarmid, Computer Science.

Geological Society of America 2012 Bromery Award: Kenneth Ridgway, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Inter-American Photochemical Society Fellow: David McMillin, Chemistry.

2012 Bindley Bioscience Research Fellow and 2012-13 Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy Scholar: Andy Tao, Biochemistry.

2013 Morrill Award: George Bodner, Chemistry.

2013 Provost's Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentor: Jonathan Harbor, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

2012-13 Teaching for Tomorrow Fellowship Awards: Michael Baldwin, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Nancy Emery, Biological Sciences.

University Faculty Scholars: Yong Chen, Physics; Daisuke Kihara, Biological Sciences; Andrew Toms, Mathematics; Olga Vitek, Statistics.

College of Science — Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching by an Assistant Professor: Suzanne Bart, Chemistry.

College of Science Research Awards: Esteban Fernandez-Juricic, Biological Sciences; Matthew Lister, Physics; Jie Shen, Mathematics; Frederi Viens, Statistics.

Christopher Greene became a Distinguished Professor of Physics.

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