Presentation of 2013 Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award to Prof. Bennett Goldberg

Presentation of 2013 United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award
By Boston University Provost Jean Morrison
Wednesday, October 22, 2012

Each year, a distinguished member of our faculty is recognized for his or her “dedication and contributions to the learning arts and to the institution” with the United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year award, a special honor established by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

The embrace of this dual role – scholar and teacher – is at the heart of Boston University’s mission. It is modeled each day across our campus by the hundreds of outstanding faculty members who lead by example – both in their respective fields of research and in their classrooms.

The respect and international recognition this year’s Scholar/Teacher of the Year has garnered over the last two decades for cutting-edge research and important practical discoveries in the fields of condensed matter physics, nanomedicine and advanced energy development are matched only by the adulation he has earned from the scores of students he has mentored and motivated to successfully pursue science careers.

In the words of his nominator, he “is a force of nature, a whirlwind of activity who invests himself not just in his professional work narrowly construed, but in this university and in the advancement of science and education.”

When describing this year’s honoree, his nominator and colleagues use words and phrases like “an esteemed and internationally-known physicist,” possessing “unmatched energy, dedication and vision,” a professor and researcher who is “continually looking towards new horizons,” and is a “willing and enthusiastic citizen of this university, two different colleges and his larger profession.”

In submitting his name for nomination, his dean comments, “Part of the reasons [the committee] agreed so thoroughly on putting [his] name forward is the sum of his extraordinary credentials, not just as a teacher in the narrower senses… but as an educator and an advocate of education and excellence in curriculum and pedagogy at all levels… As such he represents an important ideal for our institution.”

This year’s recipient of the United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year award has been doing just that – advocating excellence, innovating, and inspiring Boston University students to excel in scientific exploration for 23 years. It gives me great pleasure to confer the 2012 United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year award on Professor Bennett Goldberg.

Bennett Goldberg is a Professor of Physics and is Director of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology. He is also a Professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Were one to look up the term ‘Renaissance man’ in the dictionary, there’s a good chance an image of Professor Goldberg at his lab bench might come up. Professor Goldberg represents the best in interdisciplinary scholarship, focusing his efforts on an array of important fronts, from the creation of higher-speed, lower-power, clean energy sources to the development of new methods for diagnosing disease and delivering drugs and therapies and even recovering oil at the tiniest of scales.

Over the course of his career, Professor Goldberg has committed himself to breaking boundaries, weaving together multiple fields of scientific research in a way that pushes the limits of our capabilities.

Professor Goldberg is the author of dozens of internationally cited publications and the holder of numerous patents, regularly presenting results of his research at national and international scientific conferences. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and his ongoing research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Advanced Energy Consortium among others.

Equally valuable – and perhaps more, if you ask him – has been the outsize impact Professor Goldberg’s zest for learning has had both for students and the study of science.

Casting aside Professor Goldberg’s own research, to read through the varied list of courses he teaches, the undergraduate and Ph.D. research he supervises, and the number of programs he leads and sponsors to advance the teaching of science at the K-12 and college levels is to sometimes wonder how many hours there are in a day.

From the Studio Teaching model of science education he has tirelessly advocated to immerse students at all grade levels in more hands-on research… to the Physics teacher-in-residence program he helped create to connect future educators with experienced high school science teachers… Professor Goldberg’s classroom efforts and the active involvement of his students in cutting-edge research are accomplishing something perhaps more lasting than the lab work itself: they are helping to launch a well-prepared and passionate new generation of scientists.

A graduate of Harvard, Professor Goldberg earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics at Brown and performed his post-Doc work at MIT before arriving at BU in 1989 as a new faculty member. He has worked his way up through the professoriate since then, serving as Chair of the Physics Department and supervising some 22 doctoral theses and more than a dozen master’s and undergraduate theses.  Professor Goldberg continues to serve on the University Committee on Academic Program Review, on the Advisory Board for the BU Cancer Center and as Science Faculty Liaison to the BU Academy, among other appointments.

As a member of the Advisory Board for Women in Science and Engineering at Boston University, Professor Goldberg enthusiastically leads the PROSTARS program, a multi-pronged effort to promote inclusiveness and advance the professional development and success of women and minorities in science and engineering – fields in which they’ve been historically underrepresented.

Today, perusing the class lists of Professor Goldberg’s former students – many of whom remain in regular contact with him – is often like reading a Who’s Who of emerging and accomplished scientists in the technology industry and in education.  There’s no evidence this lab will stop turning out success stories anytime soon.

It is for all of these reasons, and in recognition of his deep commitment to scholarship and his enthusiasm and dedication to his students, that I am delighted to honor Professor Bennett Goldberg as the recipient of the 2013 United Methodist Scholar/Teacher of the Year award.