Chemist Wins Distinguished Junior Faculty Award
In A&S

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Asst. Prof. John Fourkas (Chemistry) has been selected as the 1996 Distinguished Junior Faculty Award winner in the College of Arts and Sciences.

A faculty member since September 1994, Fourkas will receive the $4,000 stipend, which is presented annually to support an independent research project by a non-tenured faculty member. The award is given in recognition of the faculty member's overall achievement and promise in research activities, as well as excellence in teaching and service.

"I am thrilled at having been chosen, especially so soon after coming here," Fourkas said. "I take it as a strong vote of confidence in both my teaching and research."

Fourkas plans to use the award to help support undergraduate assistants in his laboratory, which he sees as a way of fulfilling his duties as a faculty member.

Asst. Prof. John Fourkas (Chemistry). (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

"I started doing work in a lab as a sophomore in college," he explained. "It was a very influential part of my education and development. I feel it is quite important to provide students with the opportunity to experience the lab environment and to work with a professor in research activities."

"John Fourkas is an eminently distinguished young man and a very appropriate selection for the award," said A&S Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "He has made a highly favorable impression on both his department and the University in a short period of time."

Fourkas is a physical chemist who is studying liquids and their molecular qualities as a means of better understanding chemical reactions. In his work, he uses a laser system that sends rapid light pulses through tiny quantities of liquids to initiate and then observe molecular movements. Fourkas hopes using this process can enable him to develop techniques of controlling molecular structures.

"I have found the level of support I've received from the department and the University to be very gratifying," Fourkas said. "I was greatly attracted by the atmosphere here and the [department's] dedication to become internationally prominent. My respect has only increased since then."

Last year, the National Science Foundation presented Fourkas with its prestigious and highly competitive Career Award, which provides $65,000 per year for three years, plus a $50,000 component for laboratory equipment purchases. He was also named winner of the $25,000 Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award, one of only 10 presented each year.

Fourkas received bachelor's and master's degrees from the California Institute of Technology, and earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Stanford University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin from 1991-93, and then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until he joined the University.

In addition to honoring Fourkas, Fr. Barth said, A&S cited Asst. Prof. Elizabeth Graver (English) for honorable mention for the Distinguished Junior Faculty Award. Graver, who joined the faculty in 1993 as a visiting assistant professor, teaches courses in literature and writing.

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