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July 16, 2009

Stanford professor receives presidential award for mentoring in science

Richard N. Zare, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science at Stanford University, is one of 22 nationwide recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Recipients were named on July 9 and will be honored at a White House ceremony in the fall. They also will receive $10,000 to advance their mentoring efforts.

The annual award recognizes mentors who give their time, encouragement and expertise for the academic and personal development of science or engineering students who are minorities in their fields. Colleagues, administrators and students nominate candidates who mentor students of any grade level from elementary through graduate school.

Thomas Perroud, an alumni from the ZareLab and a senior member of the Biosystems Research and Development Staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California, served as a teaching assistant for Zare’s Light, Pigments and Organisms course a few years ago. Perroud described the course as an impressive interdisciplinary mix of chemistry, physics and biology all in one quarter.

“The amazing thing about Zare is his talent to explain complex theory in a very simple way,” Perroud said. Zare used many insightful analogies to make it much easier for a student to understand fundamental principles, Perroud added.

In a press release about the award, President Barack Obama said “There is no higher calling than furthering the educational advancement of our nation’s young people and encouraging and inspiring our next generation of leaders. These awards represent a heartfelt salute of appreciation to a remarkable group of individuals who have devoted their lives and careers to helping others and in doing so have helped us all.”

In a congratulatory letter to Zare, John P. Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and assistant to the president for science and technology said, “It is more important than ever that American students be well grounded in science, math, and engineering in order for them to be able, whether as professionals or just as citizens, to understand and tackle the challenges that face our nation. By sharing your love of science, math, and engineering with others who might otherwise have been left behind, you have made a significant contribution to this nation's future.”



Louis Bergeron, News Service: (650) 725-1944,


Barbara March, Chemistry: (650) 723-4313,

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