By Jean Gordon Cook
(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Committee on Minority Affairs at the American Chemical Society (ACS) has selected Jackson State University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry chair Hongtao Yu as the recipient of the Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for advancing diversity in the chemical sciences. The award will be presented at the Southeast Regional Meeting of ACS on Oct. 27 in Richmond, Va.
Yu’s award recognizes his vision and dedication in initiating major recruiting efforts, developing relationships with high schools and colleges, developing mentorship programs for junior faculty and students, and working with students to encourage them to pursue advanced degrees.
“This ACS award is truly for the department and for JSU,” Yu said. “There are many great programs at JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology initiated by the deans for student recruitment, development and graduation.”
Yu credited his department’s faculty, staff and students for tripling both undergraduate and graduate enrollment and doubling the number of faculty and student publications.
“My job is easy since I have world-class researchers and student mentors such as professors Jerzy Leszczynski and Paresh Ray,” Yu said. “It is also easy to do my job to have faculty members such as professor Glake Hill, who has the same vision for recruiting and nurturing students.”
Yu joined the Jackson State University faculty in 1996 and in 2003 was appointed chair of the chemistry department, which is now called the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Under Yu’s leadership, the department has become one of the most published chemistry departments in the southern United States with more than six peer-reviewed articles per faculty per year.
As one of the three Ph.D. degree-granting chemistry departments among the nation’s 115 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, JSU fosters a culture and environment conducive for underrepresented monitories, especially African Americans, to become leading scientists in chemical sciences and related fields. According to the 2011 rankings by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, JSU ranks second in the nation for awarding African Americans with master’s degrees in physical sciences, third for bachelor’s degrees and fourth for doctoral degrees in physical sciences. The rankings are largely due to the number of students earning chemistry degrees.
Yu earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China, a master’s in chemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a Ph.D. in organic and biochemistry from Technical University of Munich, Germany. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Mississippi State Legislature HEADWAE Outstanding Faculty Honoree Award, the National ChemLuminary Award for “Best Activity with Underrepresented Minority Students and/or Organizations” from the American Chemical Society and the Leadership in Doctoral Education Award from Jackson State University.
For more information, call the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at 601-979-2171