UWM chemistry professor Kristen Murphy wins ‘Rising Star’ award

Kristen Murphy, associate professor in UWM’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been recognized for her excellence in scientific enterprise.

“I knew I was being nominated, but I honestly didn’t expect to receive it,” Murphy said in regard to the Rising Star Award. “I enjoy what I do and I think I do a good job, but to actually be in the company of some of the people who have won the award in the past was gratifying.”

The 2017 Rising Star Award, presented by the Women Chemists Committee of the American Chemical Society (ACS), is presented to female scientists who demonstrate outstanding promise and contribution to their respective fields. The Women Chemists Committee strives to increase participation and retention of women in chemical sciences and advocate for, provide leadership to and promote professional accomplishments of women in the field.

“The Women Chemists Committee is a fantastic group,” Murphy said. “It’s a very important component of ACS because, as you might expect, chemistry, as with most of the natural sciences, does have a smaller population of female scientists. It’s really good that there’s a group that is supportive of women in the field.”

Murphy also noted that, in part because of organizations such as the Women Chemists Committee, the gender imbalance in the field is diminishing.

Beginning with her undergraduate studies, Murphy has been part of UWM’s chemistry department for the majority of her career. She joined the department’s faculty in 2008 and specializes in assessment. Though she developed an aptitude for assessment, it wasn’t her initial focus.

“I wasn’t formally trained (in chemical education),” Murphy said. “I discovered it after graduation. I’m fascinated by understanding what people who take tests might know or might not know based on how they might answer questions.”

As part of her work in the assessment field, Murphy is the director of the American Chemical Society Examinations Institute. The American Chemical Society is the largest scientific society in the world and serves as a leading authoritative source of scientific information. With over 157,000 members around the globe, the society provides educational and career development programs, products and services for all branches within the field.

“ACS is a really good conduit to be able to find support in your own area of specialty,” Murphy said.

Murphy is one of six award recipients for 2017 selected from candidates across academic, industrial and government sectors. She will present her work at the 255th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans in March.

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