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Robert Jenkins* - 2012 - Outstanding Former Faculty
Zoology and Physiology Department
Professor Robert Jenkins, Department of Zoology and Physiology, was enthusiastic about the combination of science and education. In 1966, after receiving a B.A. in secondary education, an M.A. in general science, and a Ph.D. in cell biology, Jenkins joined the University of Wyoming faculty and in 1977, he served as department head of the Department of Zoology and Physiology. Jenkins also helped develop the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR). Adam Jenkins, his son, noted “My father often talked about the gratitude he had to be able to do research for a living.”
Jenkins founded the UW Microscopy Facility, whose mission it is to assist researchers and students in their imaging needs of fluorescence and electron microscopy, and to increase the use of microscopes in science education. He did not simply teach out of a textbook, but emphasized the importance of hands-on-learning, a fundamental principle of an A&S education. “Bob always was intrigued by the little things around him, and he inspired generations of students and colleagues with his love of science and nature’s mysteries,” said Donna Bagby.
“Bob was a departmental inspiration in both teaching and research,” said Professor Hank Harlow, Department of Zoology and Physiology. “He was absolutely dynamite in the classroom and could keep even the most ardent narcoleptic awake and enthralled with his lectures.”
Jenkins touched the lives of many, including students whom he repeatedly offered open invitations to work on research projects in his lab. “He was rigorous and demanding but he loved his students and they loved him,” notes Professor Harold Bergman, department head of the Department of Zoology and Physiology.
For his excellence in teaching, Jenkins won many awards, including Outstanding Faculty Award from the Honorary Business Fraternity, Standard Oil Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, and the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished faculty award. He also was designated as the Wyoming CASE professor in 1991.
Jenkins was very active on campus, participating in almost every committee at some point and helping to found UW Faculty Senate. When the Laramie Energy Technology Center was de-federalized, Jenkins helped detail the plan that led to the development of the Western Research Institute (WRI), a not-for-profit research organization that investigates advanced energy systems, environmental technologies, and highway materials research.
A talented professor and relentless participant in campus affairs, Jenkins played a significant role in expanding UW’s path to research excellence. “He was a student of life who conveyed his curiosity and amazement with the structure and function of living things to anyone who would listen,” said Alumnus Rodney Johnson, Jenkins’ former Ph.D. student.
*In loving memory.