Melanie Cooper awarded honorary doctorate of science

  • May 23, 2017
  • teaching, Research, STEM Education, Faculty, Award
  • Alumni, Research, Students, Chemistry

Melanie Cooper

Melanie Cooper, MSU chemistry professor and a Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science by the University of South Florida for her pioneering work in improving teaching and learning in chemistry at the university level.

Melanie M. Cooper, a Michigan State University (MSU) Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science by the University of South Florida (USF).

“It is a great honor for me to be recognized with this honorary doctorate, which recognizes work done beyond a Ph.D., and for contributions that have had at least a national impact,” said Cooper, who is a professor of chemistry in the MSU College of Natural Science. “I was recommended by the chemistry faculty at USF and, to me, this is highly significant. My work has always involved research on improving teaching and learning in chemistry, rather than research chemistry itself.”

Cooper’s ties to USF’s chemistry department are widespread. She has served as both a “Martin Lecturer” and as an invited speaker for STEM symposium and seminar series. Her visits to campus included lengthy discussions with faculty and students about best teaching practices for student learning, for recruiting and for retaining STEM majors.

“Improving the college-level science education is high priority for Michigan State,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, NatSci dean. “Melanie Cooper is a national leader in increasing student learning in foundational chemistry and has had great impact on Michigan State students. We are very proud that USF has recognized her with an honorary doctorate. She is most deserving.”

Cooper, who is a proponent of evidence-based curriculum, has dedicated her research to learning and methodology of instruction for large enrollment general and organic chemistry courses at the college level.

“To be recognized in such a prominent forum for my work, and to be supported by chemistry faculty means that there is much greater acceptance of the need to improve teaching and learning at the university level,” Cooper said.

Cooper’s dedication to the improvement of teaching chemistry in higher education is evidenced through her involvement in many professional organizations.She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and is a member of the National Research Council (NRC) Advisory Board on Science Education.

A former member of the leadership team for the Next Generation Science Standards, Cooper has also served on the NRC committees that produced the study, “Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering,” and the report, “Undergraduate Research Experiences for STEM Students: Successes, Challenges and Opportunities.”

Cooper has received such esteemed awards as the ACS Award for Achievement in Research on Teaching and Learning in Chemistry, the Norris award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry and the Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teaching.

She earned her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Manchester, England.