Chemist honored for high energy, stellar teaching
Assistant chemistry professor Ognjen Miljanic has become the first faculty member from UH to become a Cottrell Scholar, a program that selects from hundreds of early-career science educators across the country in the physical sciences and related fields.
Sponsored by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, recipients are given $75,000 to further their research and educational programs.
“It’s a true honor and a great motivation for both me and my students,” Miljanic said. “I am especially glad to have been selected among a diverse group of researchers that included not only chemists, but also physicists and astronomers.”
Proposals for the Cottrell Scholar Award focus on both research and education achievements. Miljanic’s proposal to RCSA included several educational initiatives, such as web-based eLectures for the evening commuter section of his organic chemistry class. These lectures replicate the experience of being in class and listening to the professor, allowing students who are unable to attend to catch up with the subject matter at their own pace.
In addition, Miljanic introduced building 3-D printed models to illustrate concepts in chemistry, such as potential energy surfaces and orbital interactions of aromaticity.
“Ognjen is truly dedicated to excellence in both his research and teaching,” said the chemistry department chairman David Hoffman in a UH press release. “It is great to see his creativity and hard work recognized at the national level. My colleagues and I are very proud to have him on our faculty.”
In the research topic of his proposal, Miljanic strived to mimic nature by achieving molecular self-sorting in man-made mixtures of chemical compounds. Focusing on ways to better imitate nature’s ability to manufacture many of the molecules necessary for life, Miljanic’s research is designed to make sophisticated synthetic molecules with applications in environmental analysis, energy-related research and basic chemical industry.
The award is recognized in the Top American Research Universities report as defining Tier One universities. The program holds an annual Cottrell Scholar Collaborative that serves as a forum for sharing methods to improve undergraduate science in education in American research universities and increase retention of undergraduate science majors, as well as establish a network of scholar educators.
“The yearly meetings focus on establishing educational collaborations that will help bring our initiatives to completion faster. It is a great honor to be part of the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative,” Miljanic said.