Chemistry's Clint Jones honored for teaching excellence

Mercyhurst College will present its 2011 Teaching Excellence Award to Dr. Clint Jones, an assistant professor of chemistry who’s been remarkably successful at sharing his own passion for science with Mercyhurst undergraduates during his five years on the Hill. His classes are popular with students who know he will help them become their best and reach their potential as emerging scientists.

Dr. Ron Brown, who chairs the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said, “Clint excels as a teacher not only in the classroom, but also as an advisor and a research mentor. His organization and attention to detail are superb, and because of this his students are able to tackle complex ideas and problems and to achieve what they had not before thought possible.”

One student nominator praised Jones for “his ability to guide students to an answer and generate novel comprehension, while making such a journey exciting and fun for himself and his students.”Another commented, “He's the kind of teacher that can really make a class come to life. He's also amazingly organized and helpful.”

Dr. Brown agreed, noting, “Clint does not let his students take the easy way out, but he is exceptionally supportive of their growth as scientists. Clint is unwavering in his dedication to student learning from the time they enter Mercyhurst as freshmen until they have completed a rigorous research project and gained an impressive set of skills and experiences.”

In the laboratory, Jones has collaborated with his students on a continuing research project to assess the effect of synthetic molecules known as PBDEs on cats. Jones’ wife, Amanda, is a veterinarian and it was an article in one of her professional journals that prompted the investigation.

PBDEs were widely used for many years in flame-retardant products including carpeting, furniture and clothing, but have since been banned after concerns surfaced that the chemicals might be carcinogenic. Jones and his team analyze blood samples for signs of PBDE molecules and correlate their presence with disease rates to see if PBDEs contributes to feline cancer. He and his students have recently presented their findings at national meetings in California and New York. Further research will investigate the presence of PBDEs in other domestic animals, such as dogs.

In addition to his appointment in chemistry, Jones serves on the faculty of Mercyhurst’s Department of Applied Forensic Sciences, where he’s taken a lead role in the application for program certification from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He has also developed a new course in forensic chemistry that will be offered next year. Jones is also planning a new research endeavor that will utilize his expertise in nanoscience within the field of forensic chemistry. He continues to assist on the chemistry department’s application for certification from the American Chemical Society as well.

An analytical chemist by training, he’s a well-rounded scientist with experience in physics and biochemistry and is an expert in nanoparticle synthesis and characterization. Jones even teaches an astronomy course during summer term each year.

Jones earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in chemistry at Georgia Tech, completed postgraduate work at Penn State University, and worked in a Washington, D.C., government lab before joining the Mercyhurst faculty in 2006.
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