Dedication to students brings Chem Prof. Marcy Towns a Murphy Award


Dr. Towns wins a Murphy

Dr. Marcy Towns (holding the balloons) is the College of Science's second Charles B. Murphy Award-winner in three days.


Teaching excellence within the College of Science was recognized at the highest level once again Wednesday morning.

The second Charles B. Murphy Award given to a College of Science professor in three days occurred when Dr. Marcy Towns was surprised with the honor in a conference room in Wetherill Hall.

On Monday, the first Murphy Award was given to Dr. Peter Hollenbeck, a professor of Biological Sciences. Neither had any idea the award was coming and both were deeply honored.

Surrounded by colleagues and her graduate students in the Chemistry Education research group, Towns gave huge smiles and hugs to everyone in the room, all while clutching black and gold balloons.

Towns was nominated for her efforts to cater to students with extended office hours and leading study sessions at locations away from Chemistry’s home base of Wetherill. For example, her evening sessions at the Black Cultural Center is an example of reaching out to undergraduates. 

Towns said it is especially important for all students to find success in 100-level Chemistry classes. They will need the momentum as they pursue their majors — whether it’s Science or other fields like Engineering, Agriculture, or Health and Human Sciences.

Other Murphy Award winners, so far this week include Eric Barker, associate dean for research and professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology; George Hollich, associate professor of psychological sciences; and Fred Mannering, the Charles Pankow Professor of Civil Engineering. One more will be announced later this week. With two, it means the College of Science is home to a third of the Murphy winners for 2013.

The University's highest undergraduate teaching honor, the Murphy Award is accompanied by a $10,000 cash award and induction into Purdue's Teaching Academy, which provides leadership for the improvement of undergraduate, graduate and outreach teaching. Murphy was a history professor at Purdue between 1927 and 1970.

Historically, Chemistry and the College of Science as a whole have fared well in the Murphy Awards department. Since the awards were introduced in 1967, Chemistry professors have won 11 of the College of Science’s 35 Murphy Awards. Chemistry Prof. Dor Ben-Amotz won a Murphy in 2012.

Dr. Towns and her graduate students

Dr. Towns celebrates her Murphy Award with some of her graduate students.

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