Award-Winning Chemist to Lead Sciences School
Sep. 12, 2011
Dr. Bruce M. Novak, former head of the Department of Chemistry at North Carolina State University, has been chosen to be the next dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UT Dallas.
He begins his new post later this month.
“I am thrilled to be chosen for this position and to be part of an institution that is rising above the ranks,” Novak said. “I think UT Dallas has what it takes, in terms of attitude and inspiration from the very top, to become a nationally renowned research institution.”
Novak began his academic career at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a DuPont Young Investigator Award twice, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship. He accepted a position in 1993 at the University of Massachusetts in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering before moving in 1998 to North Carolina State University, where he was a Distinguished University Professor. During his time at UMass, Novak was awarded the NSF Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award.
“We are excited that a scientist of Dr. Novak’s caliber has accepted the position as dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. His role will be pivotal in our future growth and development as a Tier One research university,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “Bruce embodies the kind of interdisciplinary and collaborative spirit we see as keys to our success.”
Novak’s polymer research program currently encompasses projects in several major areas in materials chemistry including macromolecular chirality, optical switches and molecular machines.
Although he excelled in research, Novak said teaching has always remained a great passion.
“There are few times in life where you can truly have an impact on someone, and I find teaching to be an incredibly rewarding experience,” Novak said. “I believe very strongly in the university system. Over the last millennia, modern universities have played a pivotal role in the progress of human understanding of the world around us.”
He says he prides himself on making even the most difficult subjects fun and understandable for students. To that end, he was selected several times as a “most-loved professor” at North Carolina State University, where he headed the Chemistry Department from 1998 to 2011.
“UT Dallas, in terms of a university lifespan, is relatively new, and because of this, I believe we have some great opportunities to differentiate ourselves,” Novak said. “If you unleash talented individuals to talk and create and share ideas, I think the possibilities are endless. By working across the arbitrary categories we put on academic specialties, we can create something that’s far more efficient and realistic in terms of the way we teach the disciplines.”
Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal said Novak’s appointment will complement the outstanding scientific expertise at UT Dallas.
“Professor Novak’s research meshes very well with our strengths in chemistry and materials science, and his arrival will make one of our most important research areas much stronger still,” Wildenthal said. “In addition to his outstanding record as researcher and teacher, the chemistry department at NC State made great strides toward national prominence under Bruce’s leadership as department head. In summary, he will add strength to UT Dallas as administrator, teacher, and research scientist.”
Born in Flint, Mich., and raised in Southern California, Novak joined the U.S. Army for a five-year stint before enrolling at California State University. He graduated summa cum laude in 1983 and obtained his master’s degree in chemistry from the same institution. Novak earned his doctoral degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1989.
Novak will replace Dr. Myron Salamon, who has served as dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 2006. During his five-year tenure, Salamon played a key role in the expansion of programs and services to students, including the addition of the new Science Learning Center building.
“Under Salamon’s stewardship, many new programs were also added to NSM as he encouraged his faculty to aim for highly-competitive grants,” Daniel said. “We are thankful to him for his service.”
|Dr. Bruce M. Novak is the former head of the Chemistry Department at North Carolina State University.|
• Ph.D in organic chemistry, California Institute of Technology, 1989.
• Master’s in chemistry, California State University Northridge, 1985.
• Bachelor's in chemistry, California State University, Northridge, 1983.
Employment and Research
• Howard J. Schaeffer Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University, 1998 - 2011; Head of Department of Chemistry Department, 1998 - 2004.
• Professor, Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1997 - 1998
• Associate Professor, Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1993 - 1997
• Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, UC Berkeley, 1989 - 1993
Selected Honors and Awards
• Honored as one of the “Top 50 Most Cited Authors” by Advanced Materials External (2002/03)
• ACS, Carl S. Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award, 1997
• National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellow, 1993–1998
• National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, 1991–1996
• Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 1991–1992
• Du Pont Young Faculty Award, 1992–1994
• Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Young Investigator Award, 1991
• Innovation Recognition Award, Union Carbide, 1993 and 1994
• DuPont Young Investigator Award, 1991 and 1989
• Rohm and Haas Summer Faculty Fellowship, 1992
• 3M Nontenured Faculty Award, 1992
• Herbert H. McCoy Award, Caltech, 1989