TU faculty member wins prestigious teacher-scholar award

By Cody Boteler on November 2, 2020

Granted to early-career faculty members, it comes with $75,000 grant

John Sivey in his lab.
Associate professor John Sivey in his lab. (File photo.)

Towson University’s John Sivey, an associate professor of chemistry in the Fisher College of Science & Mathematics, is one of just eight faculty members nationwide recognized as a 2020 Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar. 

The recognition from the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation comes with an unrestricted research grant of $75,000 and is awarded to young faculty in the chemical sciences who have created an outstanding body of scholarship and who are deeply committed to undergraduate research and education. 

“This award is an affirmation of the quality experiences Dr. Sivey provides for undergraduates in his laboratory,” says Ryan Casey, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “He has a deliberate mentoring strategy that engages students in all aspects of science, from reading the literature to proposing, carrying out and reporting on experiments.” 

Sivey currently has seven undergraduate students working in his lab and also mentors graduate students and high school students. 

“I had a really influential undergraduate research experience,” Sivey says. “I wanted to be able to give back in some way, and I can provide those types of opportunities to students at Towson University.” 

Since arriving at TU in 2012, Sivey has been doing just that with his water chemistry research. Sivey’s group investigates the chemistry and consequences of chlorinating drinking water. His team also examines the environmental fate of agrochemicals, including commonly overlooked “inert” ingredients included in many herbicide formulations.

In total, 24 undergraduate and 2 graduate students at TU have conducted research under Sivey’s mentorship. Students conducting research in Sivey’s lab have presented at several national conferences, co-authored 11 publications in scientific journals, and received 66 research grants or awards, including a recent Goldwater Scholarship

“My time in Dr. Sivey’s lab has been the most valuable experience I’ve had at Towson in terms of preparing me to apply to graduate school,” says Olivia Driessen, a chemistry major who works in Sivey’s lab. “The hands-on research we do makes me feel like a more confident scientist and more prepared to do research on my own in the future.” 

The award offers Sivey the opportunity to pursue a variety of options.

“Any sort of curiosities that come up, we can leverage the award funding to go after them while also increasing opportunities for TU undergraduates to participate,” Sivey says. 

His work has been recognized before, including with a $500,000 CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation that recognized his potential as an academic role model in research and education.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland and World-Class Faculty Development Center.