Pharm chem professor wins Louise Byrd Graduate Educator Award

Jennifer Laurence, associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, is the 2011 recipient of the Louise Byrd Graduate Educator Award. The award was presented May 21 during the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.

“Professor Laurence is a shining example of an outstanding graduate faculty mentor,” said Sara Rosen, dean of graduate studies. “Her impact on the lives of her students and her department are substantial. The selection committee, comprised of previous awardees, is delighted to have such a distinguished scholar and mentor receive this award.”

Jennifer Laurence

One student nominator wrote that Laurence “evaluates and mentors each student as an individual. She provides opportunities for her students to strengthen those skills that need improvement, while recognizing and showcasing the talents each student naturally possesses.”

Laurence’s research focuses on the area of protein structure and stability. The research is key in developing protein drugs, which show promise as targeted therapeutic agents for treating diseases more effectively and with fewer side effects.

Laurence has been on the KU faculty since 2004 with the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and holds courtesy appointments in both the molecular biosciences and chemistry departments. She earned a doctoral degree in chemistry from Purdue University, where she also served as a postdoctoral researcher before coming to KU.

Her colleagues say that “Professor Laurence is an excellent teacher and cares very much about the training of graduate students. She recently assumed responsibility for reorganizing the graduate seminar program with an emphasis on inviting outside speakers and establishing a journal club so students could read and discuss papers published by the invited speaker. This change has impacted the training of all graduate students in the department.”

The Louise Byrd Graduate Educator Award was established in 1984 in memory of Louise E. Byrd, who served for many years as secretary of the Graduate School. The award honors faculty members who have demonstrated extraordinary devotion to graduate students and graduate education and who have distinguished themselves as scholars. The name of each nominee is affixed to a plaque that is housed in the Kansas Union.

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