University of Nebraska professor honored for public outreach on behalf of chemistry

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2017 — Mark A. Griep, Ph.D., an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln is the recipient of the 2017 Helen M. Free Award for outstanding public outreach from the American Chemical Society (ACS). He will be honored at a ceremony here today during the 254th ACS National Meeting & Exposition.

Griep is being recognized for his efforts to gain public recognition for Rachel Lloyd, the first American woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry, as well as his efforts to explain the chemistry depicted in movies to the general public.

He first became interested in Lloyd when he discovered that she had been hired as the second chemistry professor at the University of Nebraska in the late 1880s. In 2014, he was instrumental in earning recognition for her work at the university as an ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark, “Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D., Pioneering Woman in Chemistry.” He has also given numerous public lectures about Lloyd. In addition, Griep  published a book and created a website to celebrate her accomplishments.

Inspired by “Clambake,” an Elvis Presley movie that featured a fast-drying, super-hard varnish called GOOP, Griep began offering “Chemistry in the Movies” presentations to middle school and high school students in 2002. These presentations include “Behind the Scenes of Bubbling Apparatus in the Movies” and “Everything I Know about Chemistry, I learned at the Movies.” He later incorporated some of these clips and concepts into university courses for non-science majors.

Griep earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Colorado Health Center in Denver. He has been at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln for 27 years and has been an ACS member since 1990.

The Helen M. Free Award was established in 1995 to recognize outstanding achievements in public outreach. Free, a former ACS president, initiated many programs and activities designed to improve the public awareness of chemistry’s contributions to the quality of daily life.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Mark A. Griep, Ph.D.
Credit: University of Nebraska, Lincoln
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