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'Difference Maker' award honors ASU physicist, educator

Regents’ Professor Stuart Lindsay has been selected to receive the 2013 Gary S.
April 23, 2013

Regents’ Professor Stuart Lindsay has been selected to receive the 2013 Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award presented by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The annual award was established through generous contributions of faculty, staff and friends of ASU, to recognize and celebrate a faculty member who personifies the spirit of difference-making demonstrated by Krahenbuhl, a former dean of the college.

The Edward and Nadine Carson Presidential Chair in Physics, Lindsay has been a pioneer in both research advances and in education initiatives at ASU for more than 30 years. His studies in nanoscale science and nanotechnology explore problems at the interface of biological, chemical and solid materials.

He is also the director of the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at the Biodesign Institute, where he leads a  successful research program largely driven by graduate students. His successes extend from basic science to developing patents and strong collaborative interactions to transfer technology to partner companies. In addition to leading a center in the Biodesign Institute, Stuart has played significant roles in the establishment of ASU’s Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, led by professor Paul Davies.

Lindsay’s research endeavors also include the launch of Molecular Imaging in 1993, a company that developed nanotechnology imaging tools. The group’s atomic force microscopes have been known worldwide to be the best available for biological applications. Sold to Agilent Technologies, with whom Lindsay still consults, the instruments developed by Lindsay’s group continue to drive the advancement of the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Most recently, Lindsay has developed a new way to read the base pair sequence of DNA or the enzyme components of proteins. His team, in partnership with Roche Laboratories, uses two nanopores to electrically detect and distinguish the different base pairs of DNA and the enzymes of proteins. The goal of the venture is to develop a system that can read an individual’s genome for a cost of less than $1,000. This equipment would be vital for personalized medical care approaches. The project is also in collaboration with IBM.

“Professor Lindsay thinks strategically and demonstrates an outstanding ability to develop research partnership inside and outside of ASU,” said Robert E. Page, vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “He also mentors one of the largest research groups in CLAS, which has mostly included graduate students from physics and his students have gone on to highly successful careers. A dedicated teacher, innovative researcher and highly visible spokesperson for the college and university, he exemplifies all the qualities that this award was created to honor in liberal arts and sciences.”

Lindsay was nominated by the Department of Physics, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science.

“Professor Lindsay is an outstanding teacher of physics and chemistry. He is known as an instructor who generates excitement in his classes, and his passion for science is evident to every one of the students,” said Robert Nemanich, chair of the Department of Physics. “He has been tremendously innovative on using technology to connect with his students and a leader in our department’s efforts to develop and offer a rich online environment for physics classes.”

One of those courses, General Physics I (PHY 111) has been offered to more than 200 students each semester since fall 2010. It is an algebra-based, problem-oriented course required for many science and health majors. Lindsay employed streaming video clips and a virtual white board to present the information in ways that build understanding while providing the mathematical description of the physical phenomena. In addition, the course includes video demonstrations.

The goal of the class is to present the information in a rich environment that provides students access to the materials through words, equations, examples and video-based demonstrations. In addition, with online office hours using Adobe Connect, the students have direct access to Lindsay. This course is now widely recognized as a breakthrough in online education of mathematically intense physics courses, according to Nemanich.

Lindsay is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He has published more than 200 publications, has 29 patents and received a Humboldt Senior Scientist Award in 1993. In 2009, he was nominated for ASU Professor of the Year, receiving an Honorable Mention recognition, and received the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in 2007.

Lindsay is the 11th recipient of the award.

The Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award has been awarded since 2003 to a tenured faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences “who demonstrates a broad vision for academic scholarship and a passion for engaging students in discovery and exploration.”

Prior recipients are:

• Donald Johanson, Virginian M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins, a professor of physical anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and founding director of the Institute of Human Origins (2012).  

• Matthew Whitaker, ASU Foundation Professor in History and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy – now with the School of Letters and Sciences (2011).

• Heather Bimonte-Nelson, a professor in the Department of Psychology, honored in part for her brain awareness programs for children (2010).

• Stephen Batalden, a professor of history and the founding director of ASU’s Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (2009).

• Neal Woodbury, a professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, and deputy director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute (2008).

• Nancy Jurik, a professor of justice and social inquiry in the School of Social Transformation (2007).

• Jane Maienschein, a Regents’ Professor and President's Professor, and director of the Center for Biology and Society in the School of Life Sciences (2006).

• James Collins, a professor in the School of Life Sciences (2005).

• Noel Stowe, a professor of history and founder of ASU’s Public History Program, deceased (2004).

• Richard Fabes, director of the School of Social and Family Dynamics (2003).