MU’s Cherry Award Finalist to Present Lecture on Saturday

Curators’ Teaching Professor Meera Chandrasekhar will speak as part of Saturday Morning Science series.

Published on September 11, 2013

Meera ChandrasekharCOLUMBIA, Mo.- In April, Mizzou Curators’ Teaching Professor of Physics and Astronomy Meera Chandrasekhar was named one of three finalists for Baylor University’s 2014 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The award is the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching.

Each finalist is presenting a series of lectures at Baylor this fall. In addition, each will give a lecture on their home campuses. Chandrasekhar will present her home campus lecture at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 as part of the Saturday Morning Science series. Her lecture, titled Blind to Polarization – What Humans Don’t See, will take place in Monsanto Auditorium in the Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus.

The lecture is open to the public free of charge and attendees are invited to bring polarized sunglasses and a Smartphone, iPad or laptop, if available, to try a hands-on activity during the talk. Additional glasses will be available at the auditorium.

“One expects to see physics in a scientific lab and in technology, but I particularly love to talk about science in everyday life, photography, nature and art,” Chandrasekhar says, while discussing the topic for her lecture. “My research is in the field of optics, and I wanted to select a topic within optics that was around us all the time, but perhaps not recognized. The polarization of light, while a somewhat specialized phenomenon, is one such topic.”

Chandrasekhar joined the MU faculty in 1978 and has been honored with a multitude of awards, including MU’s William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 1997, the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998 and the University of Missouri President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2006.

As a finalist for the Cherry Award, Chandrasekhar will receive $15,000, as well as $10,000 for the MU physics department to foster the development of teaching skills. The eventual Cherry Award winner will receive $250,000 and an additional $25,000 for his or her home department and will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2014 or spring 2015.

The Cherry Award winner will be announced by Baylor University in the spring. The other finalists are Joan Breton Connelly, a professor of classics and art history at New York University and Michael Salemi, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of North Carolina.

The Cherry Award was created by Robert Foster Cherry, a Baylor alumnus, and it was designed to honor great teachers, stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. Cherry had a deep appreciation for how his life had been changed by significant teachers, and he wanted to recognize other great teachers and bring them into contact with Baylor students.