Reizman Named Endowed Chair for Teaching Excellence

Monday, July 18, 2022
Photo of Rose-Hulman professor Irene Reizman.

Irene Reizman, PhD, believes undergraduate research experiences allow students to collaborate with faculty members while developing skills and a better connection to the broader engineering and science community.

Chemical engineering associate professor Irene Reizman, PhD, will expand and enhance undergraduate research experiences for Rose-Hulman students as the new Alfred R. Schmidt Endowed Chair for Excellence in Teaching. The three-year appointment begins on September 1.

The Schmidt Chair recognizes the best and brightest of the institute’s faculty who are committed to excellence and innovation in their fields and in educational pursuits, according to Ella Ingram, associate dean for professional development who coordinates the endowed chair program. Professors receive annual stipends and summer salaries to continue to excel in their specialized areas, lead conversations with other educators in their fields, and create opportunities for students and peers.

G. Felda Hardymon, a 1969 mathematics alumnus, established the Schmidt Chair in 2018 through $2.39 million in proceeds from the auction of Hardymon’s customized McLaren P1 hypercar. The endowed chair honors the legacy of former mathematics professor and Rose-Hulman alumnus Alfred R. Schmidt.

Reizman will develop a framework for integrating undergraduate research into the early college experience, especially first- and second-year Rose-Hulman students. Her efforts will focus on setting up students for success in their research experience, recruit supportive faculty mentors for undergraduate student researchers, and create an environment of excitement and recognition for students’ research activities. 

This effort will build upon Reizman’s work to support the integration of entrepreneurial mindset principles into undergraduate research. This accentuates her work in a collaborative grant from the Kern Family Foundation with Rose-Hulman associate civil and environmental engineering professor Michelle Marincel Payne, PhD.  

Reizman believes undergraduate research experiences offer a unique venue for students to collaborate closely with faculty members while also developing problem‐solving skills and a sense of connection to the broader engineering and science community. However, she asserts that many students are unaware of the benefits of undergraduate research or unsure of how to find research opportunities. 

Reizman’s work will rectify this issue by creating courses that introduce students to basic research skills, connect them with peer mentors, and better leverage opportunities in entrepreneurship, industrial research, and competitive research programs. She also hopes to attract faculty mentors, alumni partners and industry contacts for networking and guest lectures, and enhance campus events to showcase undergraduate researchers’ achievements.

Reizman’s areas of expertise include biochemical engineering and biotechnology, and she teaches courses in these areas along with chemical process and product design. Her research focuses on developing improved microbial strains for renewable chemical production and she has helped lead a student research project investigating the use of biosensors for industrial fermentation. Reizman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Reizman will be the second Schmidt Chair, following the work during the past three years by Terrence Casey, professor of political science. He helped expand the institute’s first-year international curriculum, including providing faculty-led study abroad courses. 

Schmidt, an inspirational mathematics professor for 46 years, was one of Rose-Hulman’s most loyal alumni and longest-serving faculty members until his retirement in 1995. He helped launch the institute’s successful Operation Catapult, a program that continues to bring rising high-school seniors to campus each summer to learn about science and engineering. The 1949 mechanical engineering graduate died in 2007.