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Hikka Kenttamaa presented 2009 Provost's Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor


Hilkka Kenttämaa presented 2009Provost’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor

The Purdue Graduate School has awarded Hilkka Kenttämaa, a professor of analytical and organic chemistry in the College of Science, with the 2009 Provost’s Award forOutstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor. The award recognizes contributions to graduate education at Purdue University including: innovative teaching, significant administration of programs, and well-structured relationships with students that lead to successful completion of degrees.

Since joining the Purdue faculty in 1989, Dr. Kenttämaa has served as major professor for more than 60 graduate students. In her research group, students analyze chemical structures and explore reactivities of unusual molecules by using sophisticated instrumentation. But Dr. Kenttämaa’s students learn more than chemical science in her laboratory. “Besides doing research, she teaches us how to present our research by improving communications skills both orally and written. She provides us opportunities to practice leadership skills,” said doctoral student Zhicheng Jin. Graduate student Steven Habicht is impressed with Professor Kenttämaa’s personalized teaching skills. He says, “She is masterful in creating an environment where every student is allowed to learn in the manner that suites them best, both in the lab and classroom.”

In addition to mentoring students in her chemistry group, Dr. Kenttämaa developed and teaches a graduate course on chemical aspects of mass spectrometry. This popular course has multidisciplinary appeal on campus attracting chemistry, biochemistry,pharmacy, medicinal chemistry, and civil engineering students.

Professor Kenttämaa shares her thoughts on teaching chemistry and mentoring students:

"There are great many rewards I get from teaching and supervising students’ research (which I view as teaching, also). Although strong technical skills are important, I find a student’s development to a confident and eager problem-solver and creative, effective leader even more so. I feel really good when I see young students get a strong positive start, begin to like learning, and become curious and excited about science. Moreover, it is an incredible feeling to see an insecure freshman turn into a capable, confident senior and then an excellent graduate student who secures his/her dream job. Most of my students have done incredibly well in academics and industry, which I also find rewarding. When they then come back here to hire our students, I know that they respect the education they got and I did something right. I am truly honored to receive this special award that recognizes these efforts."

The 2009 Provost’s Award forOutstanding Graduate Faculty Mentorwill be formally presented to Dr. Kenttämaa at the University Honors Convocation this spring.