Congratulations to Chemical Engineering assistant professor Michelle O’Malley, who is one of thirteen university faculty members in the United States to receive a 2017 Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award.
The awards, presented by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, honor young professors who have created an outstanding independent body of scholarship and are deeply committed to education. “The frontier accomplishments of these award recipients span the broad range of contemporary research in the chemical sciences,” according to the organization’s website. Each Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar receives an unrestricted research grant of $75,000.
“I am extremely honored to be recognized by the Dreyfus Foundation, and to be counted among its elite list of teacher-scholars,” O’Malley said. “It’s really special to be recognized for innovating the classroom experience. My mission is to inspire and empower undergraduates so that they can be leaders in biotechnology. This award will allow me to pilot a new program that brings biotech research to the chemical engineering classroom, which I’m really excited about.”
In-class undergraduate research experiences broaden students’ technical skills and sharpen their scientific creativity, but limited campus laboratory space can make it difficult to accommodate all students. O’Malley is taking a new approach by building a new course that will allow students to participate in open-ended research analyzing genomic sequence data outside the lab. Together, the students will not only learn the skills necessary to decipher what’s in a genome, but also collaborate to translate their findings into new scientific discoveries – perhaps even publishing what they learn.
“Much of our success at the College of Engineering is built on the complementary cornerstones of high-level research and excellence in teaching,” said Dean Rod Alferness. “We are therefore extremely proud of Michelle O’Malley for receiving a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award in recognition of her high achievement in both of these indispensable areas. We offer her our sincere congratulations.”
O’Malley arrived at the UCSB College of Engineering in 2012 after spending nearly three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 2009 and is currently a faculty affiliate at the UCSB Center for Bioengineering, the California Nanosystems Institute, and the UCSB Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science. She is also a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an NSF CAREER Award, and a DOE Early Career Award. The MIT Technology Review named her one of its “35 Innovators Under 35” in 2015.
Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar awardees also gain entry to the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation’s Teacher-Scholar Forum, joining more than 850 faculty members from colleges and universities across the U.S. who have received the awards since 1970. The forum’s purpose is to provide a means for awardees to connect with each other and to discuss issues relating to teaching, research, opportunities for collaboration and grants, and information on upcoming conferences and events.