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Prof. Ronald J. Bieniek is founding Director of New Faculty Programs and the Learning Enhancement Across Disciplines Program of student academic assistance and development at Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly the University of Missouri-Rolla). His scientific research is in the theory of atomic and molecular collision processes. In recent years, he has concentrated on educational and programmatic issues, focusing on methods to improve student and faculty success and satisfaction.
Bieniek received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of California-Riverside (1970). After a year of graduate study at MIT, he transferred to Harvard, where he earned a Master of Arts in history of science (1973) and Ph.D. in physics (1975). Before coming to the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1981, Bieniek was assistant professor of physical sciences, of astronomy, and of humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During 1988-89, he was senior Fulbright professor at Universitat Kaiserslautern and visiting associate professor at Universite de Paris.
Bieniek strives to provide scientists and non-scientists with an understanding of the cultural interactions of science within the context of the history of ideas. He has been a Rufus and Sofie Paine Lecturer in Religion at University of Missouri-Columbia. He has served on several National Science Foundation panels and on the American Physical Society's national Committee on Education. Bieniek has won three campus Outstanding Teaching Awards, many college Teaching Excellence Awards, and been appointed Dean's Teaching Scholar for his educational impact and leadership.
Diverse academic background and efforts
- B.S. in physics (UC-Riverside), M.A. in history of science (Harvard, 1973), Ph.D. in physics (Harvard, 1975).
- Written research papers on topics from molecular energy transfer to interaction of science and humanities
- Faculty appointments from astronomy to humanities.
- Developed courses from physical science for non-majors, to introductory physics for engineers, to graduate quantum mechanics, to historical interplay of science, philosophy, and religion.
- Long-term visiting appointments at premiere national and international research institutions: Observatoire de Paris, UniversitÃ© de Paris, Imperial College, Oxford University, Universitat Kaiserslautern, Max Planck Institutut fur Quantenoptik, Universita di Firenze, Harvard College Observatory, Stanford University, US Air Force Phillips Lab.
- Grant funding obtained from several agencies (e.g., NSF and Missouri Department of Higher Education).
- Co-organizer and co-director of summer development institutes for secondary-school math and science teachers.
Program development and assessment
- Founding Director of New Faculty Programs, a coordinated two-year approach to early-career faculty development with a very minimal budget and an excellent reputation (http://newfaculty.mst.edu).
- Founding Director of the Learning Enhancement Across Disciplines (LEAD) program of learning assistance for student success, used by approximately 800 students a week for a wide variety of foundational and advanced courses in twelve departments (http:// lead.mst.edu ).
- Resourceful in setting up, building and refining programs and initiatives.
- Selected as inaugural and continuing team member of UM-system's Comprehensive Program Assessment program to foster efficacious processes in academic units for continuous enhancement of programs.
Communication, leadership, and teamwork skills
- Selected by Pearson Publishing to co-author (with Eric Mazur) a very innovative introductory physics text.
- Good professional and personal rapport with department chairs, diverse staff, upper campus and upper system administrators over programmatic and faculty development issues (and the personal touch is productive).
- Successful in generating regular participation by faculty and students in various campus efforts and projects (e.g., there are 45+ faculty running 30 LEAD learning centers in 12 departments used by ~700 students/week, representing a growth over five years of 260% in learning centers, 130% in volunteer faculty and 120% in participating departments).
- Effective program advocate and spokesperson (e.g., leading to LEAD-like learning centers at UC-Berkeley http://astro.berkeley.edu/resources/campbell/talc/ and at UNLV www.physics.unlv.edu/plc/schedule).
- Author of reports, educational materials, program descriptions, websites, online course material and useful manuals for student and faculty success.
- Consensus builder within faculty/staff groups and a policy follower while still being an advocate of personal views.
- Recognized for substantial positive educational impact by both faculty (e.g., Dean's Teaching Scholar appointment) and by students (e.g., teaching awards and Missouri S&T Corporate Development Council's first Faculty Award).
- Graduate of the UM Academic Leadership Program (where much was absorbed and implemented).