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Chemistry professor George Shields recognized for leadership in undergraduate research

Chemistry Professor George Shields and Ariel Gale '20.

Furman University Professor of Chemistry George C. Shields has been named a 2020 Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) fellow, an honor that recognizes his leadership and service as a role model in undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activities.

“The innovative and collaborative teaching, research and leadership of Dr. Shields embodies the very best in undergraduate research mentors,” said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer. “He provides inspiration to all who nurture and participate in the important work of undergraduate research.”

“I’m truly honored and humbled by this recognition,” Shields said. “I think being named a CUR fellow underscores Furman’s steadfast commitment to faculty mentorship, and it speaks to our unwavering dedication to, and respect for, undergraduates – our fellow colleagues.”

Recently named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Shields has mentored nearly 120 undergraduate researchers. He previously served as Furman vice president for academic affairs and provost.

“We’re delighted that George has received this special honor recognizing his career-long dedication to championing undergraduate research,” said Elizabeth Davis, president of Furman University. “He has sparked in students a love for research and inspired so many of them to pursue careers in science. George represents the opportunities Furman strives to provide to all students engaged and creative learning that prepares graduates for meaningful and consequential lives.”

In 2000, Shields founded the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY), which has provided opportunities for nearly 900 students and 29 faculty members, with substantial participation from underserved populations, to work on computational chemistry research projects and share findings at conferences and in published work.

In CUR nomination materials, Shields’ MERCURY colleagues said, “George has shown us how to become advocates for undergraduate research and use leverage when possible to get research experiences for more undergraduates.” Shields has received more than $5.5 million in grant funding for his research and several honors for his teaching and research.

Shields earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

He conducted postdoctoral research at Yale University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, held faculty and administrator positions at Armstrong Atlantic State University, Bucknell University, Hamilton College and Lake Forest College, served as visiting professor at the University of Barcelona.

CUR fellows are conferred every two years. Awardees receive a CUR lifetime membership, a plaque and support for continued undergraduate mentorship.

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