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Clennan Receives Top UW Faculty Honor

April 21, 2014
Man smiling
Edward Clennan

A longtime University of Wyoming professor who has mentored dozens of graduate students, maintained a long-running research program and gained international distinction in the field of physical organic chemistry has received UW’s highest faculty honor.

Edward Clennan is the winner of the 2014 George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award, named for UW’s 13th president.

“Ed will go down as one of the most productive and valuable faculty that the Department of Chemistry has ever had,” wrote his colleague, chemistry Professor Dean Roddick. “I don’t think anyone else currently on campus has a comparable complete record of accomplishment.”

Clennan has been a member of the UW Department of Chemistry faculty since 1979, gaining stature internationally in his study of photochemical- and electrochemical-initiated introduction of oxygen into organic substrates. His work has focused on developing new light-absorbing molecules designed to inhibit energy-wasting processes that diminish the efficiency of conversion of light energy into new materials.

Clennan’s research has drawn 30 years of continuous funding from the National Science Foundation, totaling more than $8 million.

“As a former director of the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation, I can confidently say that this provides resounding confirmation of the quality of Ed’s research program by his peers,” wrote Luis Echegoyen, professor at the University of Texas-El Paso.

Clennan also has written 126 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters during his career, and he has instructed 46 undergraduates, 14 Ph.D. students, seven master’s degree students and 14 post-doctoral associates in his research laboratory.

“Ed really shines in graduate education, particularly in his careful and meticulous mentoring of students,” Roddick wrote. “I have always been impressed with how well prepared his students are. Walking past his office, a typical scene is Ed sitting at his small table with a student working over their projects, talking very softly and intently to them. He truly cares about his students and really works hard with them.”

Students in his spring 2013 organic chemistry class attested to his value as a teacher.

“Dr. Clennan has been a great instructor,” one student wrote in his course evaluation. “He goes above and beyond to help his students and make sure we understand the material, and he never seemed to grow impatient with us.”

Wrote another: “Dr. Clennan was a blast to have as a professor. The passion that he possesses for chemistry and science is amazing. He made a hard subject so much more enjoyable than it could have been.”

Clennan has twice been head of his department, from 1996-99 and from 2005-2012, and has served on numerous committees at the departmental, college and university level.

“Ed’s service contributions to the University of Wyoming are exemplary,” wrote Keith Carron, current head of the Department of Chemistry.

Clennan received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1973, then earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977. He did post-doctoral work at Texas Christian University before starting his career at UW.

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