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A high honor

Pictured, left to right: Laura Wright (Furman Sponsor); Nina Veas (Hanks’ spouse); SC Governor Henry McMaster; Tim Hanks (awardee); John Wheeler (Assoc. Provost for Integrative Science).

Timothy W. Hanks, Professor and Chair of Chemistry at Furman University, has received the 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence in Science at a Predominantly Undergraduate Institution. This prestigious award, jointly provided by the Office of the Governor and South Carolina Academy of Sciences, recognizes Hanks’ outstanding accomplishments as a research scientist and student mentor over his 27-year Furman career, as well as his longstanding service in support of chemical education across South Carolina.

The commendation was conferred May 24 in a ceremony held at the South Carolina Statehouse by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, one of four “Excellence in Science” awards honoring individuals “whose achievements and contributions to science in South Carolina merit special recognition”. This is the fourth Excellence in Science Award presented to a Furman faculty member since 1989, the third among active faculty within Furman’s undergraduate Chemistry program.

“I’m humbled by this recognition by Gov. McMaster,” said Hanks. “It is truly an honor is to be able to come to work every day at Furman to work with such talented, caring and thoughtful colleagues and students.”

For nearly three decades, Hanks has contributed broadly to our scientific understanding of conjugated polymers, as well as the theoretical underpinnings of halogen bonding and the field of chemical education. Among his accomplishments, he has served as a research mentor for 110 undergraduates, 22 graduate students and eight postdoctoral fellows, publishing over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings. Hanks has delivered more than 110 professional presentations, including 25 talks in 13 countries, and his students have delivered an additional 195 presentations at both domestic and international scientific meetings.

“Tim has demonstrated his excellence in science through his teaching, his internationally recognized research, and his exceptional service to our discipline” said Laura Wright, immediate past Chair of the Chemistry Department and Hanks’ sponsor for the Governor’s Award Nomination “He has been a shining example of how science is best done in an the undergraduate environment.”

“We are exceptionally proud to call Tim one of our own” said John Wheeler, Associate Provost for Integrative Research. “His inspiring accomplishments over his career at Furman speak for themselves, and have substantially contributed to an undergraduate research culture in the Furman Chemistry Department that not only serves as a model within our institution, but which is recognized nationally.”

Hanks has held multiple leadership and advisory positions including strategic positions within the American Chemical Society (ACS), where he serves at the local, regional and national levels. In 2010 he was honored with the ACS E. Ann Nalley Southeastern Regional Award for Volunteer Service and was also the recipient of Furman’s HHMI Distinguished Mentor Award.

Hanks has received numerous other awards as well, including international support from the Petroleum Research Fund and the Fulbright Foundation to fund sabbatical research projects in France and Australia, respectively. As a Furman faculty member, he has successfully raised more than $4 million in competitive instrument, equipment and student support from public and private foundations.

Currently Hanks serves as Chair to Furman’s Chemistry Department, which operates one of the largest summer undergraduate research programs in the nation. Under his initial leadership, the department pioneered an innovative summer research program for visiting students and faculty teams from other regional institutions that has received consistent support from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program for over 15 years. Hanks serves as an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Clemson University and was named as Townes Professor of Chemistry at Furman in 2002. A graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, he received his Ph.D. from Montana State University in 1986.

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