BGSU rewards professors for research

Researchers do much of their work outside the public view — in labs or in the field. They travel to foreign countries, present papers to colleagues, attend seminars and read prolifically on their research topic. Many times, this work is not publicly recognized by individuals outside of the researcher’s discipline.

But last Thursday, the University recognized two of these scholars at the Second Annual BGSU Research Conference.

Patricia Kubow, associate professor of educational foundations and inquiry, received the Olscamp Research Award and Pavel Anzebacher, assistant professor of chemistry and photochemical sciences, was named the 2003 Outstanding Young Scholar.

Kubow earned her doctorate in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota and came to the University in 1998. While at the University, Kubow has continued her decade long research on democratic and comparative education.

“If we really want to change our system and think more broadly, we need perspectives from other countries,” Kubow said. “You can’t actually change your own system when you’re still a part of it. You need the international component to think outside the box.” She was awarded the Olscamp Research Award for her work on defining democracy in South Africa and Kenya and promoting democratic education.

Kubow said her work in South Africa and Kenya mainly looks at the concept of democracy through the eyes of Kenyan and South African educators. During her research, Kubow worked with the Kenyan and South African educators to develop curriculum for youth in junior secondary schools, which are similar to our middle schools in the United States.

Kubow said that one of her major influences was Michael Apples, professor at the University of Wisconsin. She said that Apples has written for a number of years on the neo-Marxist perspective to the process of schooling — looking at the ideological component of schooling and asking what a certain curriculum means to society. She said that being honored for her research has provided many opportunities for her to present her work at conferences and write in journals. This week, she presented a paper titled, “Complex Identities: Negotiating Self, Educator and Citizen within the context of the Education for Democracy Project” at the College and University Faculty Assembly, a part of the National Council for the Social Studies Conference.

Anzebacher, originally from the Czech Republic, came to the University in 2000 after completing doctoral work at the University of Texas.

Anzebacher received the award for his research that examines the uses of smart materials, or materials that change shape in certain environments and materials that have a new quality on top of them.

“We are making thin material layers that can do something.” Anzebacher said. “If you put them in the environment where there is some chemical, they change their optical and electrical properties. They can tell you if this water is clean or if this entity is in the water or not.”

He said that this research has applications ranging from monitoring water pollution to determining whether a drug is in the human bloodstream. The advantage of his research is that results can be obtained when using a very small sample.

“It’s [the research is] the difference between using a pin prick sample and drawing 10 milliliter of blood to determine whether a chemical is in the body,” Anzebacher said.

Referring to his responsibilities as a researcher and a professor, Anzebacher said, “It’s a challenge and you know you have the pay as you go phone plans — well, being a researcher and professor is a learn as you go process. Honestly, it’s like when you are juggling the balls and you are just throwing them up so you hope to generate a little more time before they fall back on you.”

The research environment is familiar for Anzebacher. He has lived in the lab since his early days when his parents were both researchers in the Czech Republic. Because both of his parents were scientists and took him to the lab at an early age, Anzebacher said that he was predisposed to thinking that a lab was a natural environment for humans.

In addition to his parents’ influence, he said that his wife has been another source of significant personal influence and support. “Work doesn’t equal life, you can have work, but in order for me to have a life, I wouldn’t have had that without the help, caring, everything that my wife gives to me,” he said. “I would probably be overworked and crazy–or crazier–without her.”

Professionally, Anzebacher said his former graduate advisor, Jonathan Sessler, a professor and researcher at the University of Texas, has influenced his current research. “He gave me enormous freedom and creativity,” Anzebacher said. “I realized that with this nurturing environment, particularly this creative freedom and a lot of money to play with, I could fly at this enormous altitude of ideas and thoughts.”