MSU Lappan-Philips Professor recognized for exemplary chemistry education achievement

Melanie Cooper image

Melanie Cooper

Michigan State University (MSU) chemistry professor Melanie M. Cooper has received the 2013 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Cooper is the first Lappan-Philips Professor of Science Education at MSU.

The Norris Award is the first national award created to pay tribute to outstanding contributions to the field of chemical education.It was established in 1950 by the Northeastern Section of ACS to honor James Flack Norris, professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The award will be formally presented to Cooper at the Nov. 14 meeting of the Northeastern Section to be held at Tufts University.

Cooper is a pioneer in chemical education, bringing evidence-based practices to the development of curricula and assessments. Her work focuses, in particular, on improving outcomes for students in large enrollment courses, including general and organic chemistry.

“I believe our work on reforming introductory courses is particularly important, because we can positively affect so many students’ understanding of chemistry and help them move into careers in science and engineering,” Cooper said. “I am happy that this work has been honored by this award and look forward to continuing my teaching and research at MSU.”

Cooper came to MSU in January 2013 from Clemson University, where she was an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. She is jointly appointed in the departments of chemistry and teacher education, and in the CREATE for STEM Institute. Cooper received her B.S, M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Manchester, England. She carried out postdoctoral work in organic chemistry before turning to chemical education as her area of research.

“Although this is wonderful news, for all of us involved in Professor Cooper’s recruitment to MSU, Melanie winning the Norris Award is not entirely surprising,” said Rob Maleczka, professor and chairperson of the MSU Department of Chemistry. “Dr. Copper is a leading figure in chemical education research. Her studies on how university chemistry is taught and learned are providing us data that will enable the modernization of general chemistry instruction around the globe. It is truly exciting that, through Melanie’s leadership, MSU Chemistry will be at the forefront of this transformation.”