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David Dows

Last updated 10/04/2021

Following his retirement from the Department of Chemistry in 2008, Professor Emeritus David Dows has been serving as a volunteer board member and treasurer of the Anton B. Burg Foundation.

Professor Dows is the only chemist on the Burg Foundation board with a hard science background. He has been proactive in identifying the needs of the Chemistry Department’s faculty that are difficult to meet in other ways, and he has matched programs and initiatives at USC to the funding objectives of the Burg Foundation.

The Chemistry Department at USC hosts over 50 Postdoctoral Research Fellows each year, in addition to approximately 150 graduate students. Professor Dows played a pivotal role in establishing and sustaining the Burg Foundation’s Postdoctoral Teaching Awards Program. This innovative and unique program provides training opportunities for Postdoctoral Fellows in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. Two Postdoctoral Awardees are selected each year and trained for one semester under the supervision of a faculty mentor who excels in the pedagogical and practical aspects of teaching. They are assigned a specific class and participate in all areas of instruction, including syllabus preparation, class teaching, exam writing, grading, technology-assisted teaching techniques and student advising.

Postdoctoral Fellows who have participated in the program to date confirm that they have benefitted greatly from this award, and their teaching mentors and research advisors concur. Funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, now require a mentoring program for Postdoctoral Fellows as part of individual research proposals, and the Chemistry Division of NSF has been informed of the success of the Burg Foundation program.

Under Professor David Dows’ leadership, the Burg Foundation also provides two graduate fellowships to Ph.D. students in chemistry every year, and the Foundation funded a research experience for undergraduates (REU) summer program between 2006 and 2010.

Professor Dows’ contributions also have significantly enhanced the quality of the Chemistry Department’s teaching laboratories and research facilities. The Burg Foundation substantially advanced research instrumentation by supporting the acquisition of X-ray crystallography equipment, surface analysis instrumentation, a solar simulator for photochemical studies, polarimetric equipment, and most recently, a helium liquefier facility.

The helium liquefaction facility is a transformative contribution because it enables new high-impact electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) experiments that would be cost-prohibitive on most other campuses, and it protects all of the liquid helium users in the USC community from the ongoing precipitous increases in the cost of liquid helium caused by the international helium shortage.

David Dows was honored at the Provost’s Faculty Retirement Recognition Luncheon on November 13, 2013.