Trustees' Awards Honor the Best in Advising, Scholarship and Teaching at WPI

Contact: WPI Media & Community Relations

TOP SCHOLAR - Pamela J. Weathers, center, of Stow, Mass., professor of biology and biotechnology, receives the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research, and Creative Scholarship. David C. Brown, right, professor of computer science, presented the award while WPI Provost John F. Carney and President Edward A. Parrish, at left, congratulate her.
TOP TEACHER - Stephen J. Weininger, center, of Worcester, Mass., professor of chemistry, receives the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teaching. WPIU junior Kevin Dickert, right, presented the award while WPI President Edward A. Parrish and Provost John F. Carney, at left, congratulated Weininger.
TOP ADVISOR - David S. Adams, center of Worcester, Mass., associate professor of biology and biotechnology, receives the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Trustees' Award for Outstanding Academic Advising from WPII junior Alex Knapp, right. Congratulating Adams are WPI Provost John F. Carney, far left, and President Edward A. Parrish, second from left. s

WORCESTER, Mass. - Three Worcester Polytechnic Institute professors have been awarded Board of Trustees' Awards at the annual Faculty Honors Convocation.

David S. Adams of Worcester, Mass., associate professor of biology and biotechnology, has received the Trustees' Award for Outstanding Academic Advising.

"When a student arrives at WPI as a freshman, things can be confusing," reads the citation accompanying his award. "They're away from home and on their own for the first time; they're expected to manage their own lives and their schoolwork; and they have a dizzying variety of both options and obligations to pursue in order to fulfill the WPI Plan. So an academic advisor is someone that student can look to for guidance in his academic, professional and sometimes even personal life. Through his warmth, reliability and knowledge, David S. Adams exemplifies the role of academic advisor."

Adams has pursued postdoctoral studies in molecular biology at Rockefeller University and has earned a 1979 Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of Texas, a 1976 M.S. in biophysical sciences at the University of Houston and a 1974 B.S. in physiology at Oklahoma State University. His research involves finding solutions to such problems as Alzheimer's disease, heart attacks and strokes and neurodegenerative disorders.

"He is truly an inspirational person to not only his advisees but also to his colleagues at WPI and to the people at the biotech companies where he consults," noted one of his advisees in the citation. "In addition to his tremendous capacity at WPI as a mentor, advisor, professor and colleague, he is also a good friend."

Pamela J. Weathers of Stow, Mass., professor of biology and biotechnology, has been presented with the 2000 Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship. "Since coming to WPI in 1979, Professor Weathers has established an impressive scientific record in the plant sciences," reads her award citation. "Her innovative accomplishments include discoveries in the following areas: root physiology, the biochemistry of plant secondary metabolites, in vitro cell culture using a novel mist bioreactor, applications of optical tweezers in plant cell surgery, applications of genetically modified roots and studies in the molecular mechanisms controlling genetic expression of biosynthetic pathways. These discoveries have led to several patents, and over 50 publications, including five invited reviews."

Weathers earned a 1974 Ph.D. in botany and plant pathology at Michigan State University and a 1969 B.S. in biology from Marquette University. She is a 1965 graduate of Lincoln-Way High School in New Lenox, Ill.

Her research involves the study and development of bioprocesses related to economical production of plants or their products for commercial use. She received a 1987 Moet-Hennessey Award for innovative technology and the 1995 YWCA Katherine Erskine Award for Outstanding Woman in Science and Medicine in Central Massachusetts. Thirteen of her students have won 20 research awards or fellowships in national and local competitions.

She has initiated and directed WPI's Plant Research Group, a model for interdisciplinary research and problem solving. The group, composed of engineers, plant biologists and biochemists and a physicist, has won grants from agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health and NASA. She twice has earned prestigious USDA Ph.D. fellowships. An invited speaker at many conferences and workshops, she has been a reviewer on 10 national panels and for seven journals and a reviewing editor for the journal In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plant since 1997.

Stephen J. Weininger of Worcester, Mass., professor of chemistry, has received the 2000 Trustees' Award for Outstanding Teaching.

"Each year a 10-person committee has the pleasure of reviewing nominations and selecting the 'teacher of the year,'" reads his award citation. "Professor Weininger has dedicated himself to the education of WPI students for 35 years."

He earned a 1964 Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and a 1957 B.A. from Brooklyn College, CUNY. He served as senior demonstrator at Durham University, England, from 1964-65; assistant professor at WPI from 1965-70 and a National Science Foundation Faculty Science Fellow and visiting professor at Colorado State University from 1976-1978. An associate professor from 1970-77, he has been a full professor at WPI since 1977. A 1987 Mellon Fellow, a 1988 visiting scholar in MIT's Science, Technology and Society Program and a visiting professor of chemistry and history of science at Cal Tech, he chairs the Division of History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the six-person group that developed the WPI Plan, an innovative, project-based curriculum. His research interests include energy transfer in organic molecules and the history of 19th- and 20th-century chemistry.

"The committee recognizes Professor Weininger's long and outstanding contributions to the entire range of activities that define what it means to be a teacher," the citation notes. "Students and colleagues alike regard (him) as a highly gifted teacher who brings his broad interests, deep knowledge and love of learning to the classroom, laboratory and projects."

WPI, founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students integrate classroom studies with research projects conducted on campus and around the world.