Diane Bunce

2001 Helen M. Free Award Winner

Diane Bunce, Professor of Chemistry at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, is the 2001 recipient of the Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach. Dr. Bunce was recognized for her outreach to audiences of students, teachers, and parents through her chemistry workshops. These workshops consist of holiday lectures, experiments, and hands-on demonstrations of how chemistry is "part of traditional celebrations in everyday life." Her workshops include "Chemistry of Egg Dyeing," "Come Dressed as Your Favorite Element" for Halloween, "Chemistry of Your Thanksgiving Dinner," and "Chemistry of Hangovers" for St. Patrick's Day. Bunce reaches out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

She has testified before the House Committee on Science and the House Education and Workforce Committee to promote the professional development needs of science teachers. She worked with the office of Representative Vernon J. Ehlers (R- MI) to sponsor an event during National Chemistry Week, a workshop in which approximately 50 legislative staff participated.

She received her B.S. Chemistry in 1972 from Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY, and her Masters of Arts in Teaching in 1973 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and her Ph.D. in Chemical Education in 1984 from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Professor Bunce’s chemical education research at Catholic University deals primarily with the application of cognitive psychology to the learning and teaching of chemistry. Her current research has focused on two main areas, namely, 1) the effectiveness of technological approaches to teaching on student understanding and 2) explorations of the learning process itself and the factors that can affect it. Additional work has led to the creation of a paired-question General Chemistry Exam for the ACS Exam Institute that will serve as a useful instrument in the evaluation of teaching/learning innovations for chemical education researchers.

Dr. Bunce has published numerous articles about chemical education in journals such as Chemistry Education Research and Practice, Journal of Chemical Education, and the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. She co-authored the books Nuts and Bolts of Chemical Education Research (Vol. 976) and Survival Handbook for the New Chemistry Instructor. She has also authored several chapters about student research and student learning difficulties in numerous other books. Dr. Bunce is the founding editor of the Journal of Chemical Education: Chemical Education Research feature. Dr. Bunce has received numerous awards for outstanding teaching.