Awards Named After Former Presidents of MAS

Awards listed below will be given out at the 2015 Annual Meeting & Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium. Awards are named after past presidents of the Minnesota Academy of Science who were leaders in their respective fields and exemplified the standard of excellence in science that MAS seeks to recognize, influence, and promote. 

Thomas B. Magath Award for Excellence in Cellular and Molecular Biology

Thomas B. Magath, President in 1934, worked in the Division of Experimental Surgery and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic and published numerous papers on parasites. In 1918, Dr. Magath published a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on protections employed by parasites against digestive enzymes of their hosts. He discovered and named Camallanus americanus, a parasitic nematode found in five species of turtles, which he described in the 1919 Transactions of the American Microscopical Society. His later research focused on the physiology of the liver and effects of intravenous injections of glucose.

Lee I. Smith Award for Excellence in Chemistry

Lee I. Smith, President in 1945, was a pioneering researcher in the field of organic chemistry. Dr. Smith helped to develop the Division of Organic Chemistry at the University of Minnesota during his forty years at the institution. Dr. Smith served on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Organic Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Organic Synthesis. His crowning research achievement was the synthesis of Vitamin E, which led to his election as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His other primary areas of research were tocopherols, the Jacobsen rearrangement, and cyclopropanes.

Newton H. Winchell Award for Excellence in Earth Science

Newton H. Winchell, President in 1879, 1881, 1897, and 1898, was the first director and state geologist of the Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota. In 1877, Winchell published the first study estimating the approximate start of the second glacial epoch; his study was based on the recession of the St. Anthony Falls. Winchell accompanied General Custer to South Dakota and created the first geological map of the Black Hills. As part of his geological studies of northern Minnesota, Winchell uncovered the Mesabi and Vermilion iron ore ranges which stimulated the mining industry on the Iron Range. In addition to his scientific research, Winchell established and edited the American Geologist and later became the head of the Department of Archaeology at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Arthur N. Wilcox Award for Excellence in Ecology & Environmental Science

Arthur N. Wilcox, President in 1950, was a driving force behind the founding of the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. As the Chair of the Committee for Preservation of Natural Conditions, Wilcox raised enough funds to purchase large tracts of land in the Cedar Creek Bog and later oversaw transferring care of the land to the University of Minnesota. The Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a research site in central Minnesota dedicated to research on ecology and the influences of human activity on natural systems. The site is currently owned and operated by the University of Minnesota in cooperation with the Minnesota Academy of Science.

Thomas B. Walker Award for Excellence in Economics & Business

Thomas B. Walker, President in 1903 and from 1906-1911, was a business man and advocate for forest conservation who was one of the ten wealthiest men in the world in 1923. Walker began his career in the railroad industry but later learned about forestry and began to purchase vast tracts of pine land in northern Minnesota. Walker used his fortune to promote literacy and appreciation of the fine arts. He was responsible for building the Minneapolis Public Library system and founded the Walker Art Center.

Curtis D. Motchenbacher Award for Excellence in Engineering

Curtis D. Motchenbacher, President in 1970, worked in the Defense Technical Information Center at Honeywell. Motchenbacher developed a small, lightweight meteorogical sonde to measure index of refraction, temperature, humidity, pressure, and windspeed. His initial field tests demonstrated good operation and good agreement with radar measurements. The Mini-Refractionsonde System was developed under a contract from the Naval Air Development Center.

Frank R. Verbrugge Award for Excellence in Math & Computer Science

Frank R. Verbrugge, President in 1958, was the Interim Dean of the College of Science & Engineering at the University of Minnesota. As the Director of University Computer Services, Verbrugge helped to develop the University of Minnesota computer labs and purchased the first Class VI supercomputer at a United States university. The Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium was based on Dr. Verbrugge’s establishment of state-wide higher education time-sharing and advocacy for interactive computers and microcomputers in instructional labs.

Edward J. Baldes Award for Excellence in Neuroscience

Edward J. Baldes, President in 1956, was the head of the Biophysics Department at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Baldes performed the first electroencephalogram (EEG) study at the Mayo Clinic. EEG studies test electrical activity in the brain and are used as diagnostic tests for epilepsy and other brain disorders. In addition to this EEG studies, Dr. Baldes helped develop compounds used in diagnosis and therapy of lung cancer, researched blood flow, osmotic pressure, and worked on space medicine research.

Hiram E. Essex Award for Excellence in Organismal & Physiological Sciences

Hiram E. Essex, President in 1949, was also the 27th President of the American Physiological Society (APS). Dr. Essex was the head of physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine and co-chair of the Section on Physiology at the Mayo Foundation. As the chair of the APS Committee on Animal Care and Experimentation, Dr. Essex revised and extended the guiding principles for animal care and cruelty in experiments which were adopted nationally. Dr. Essex’s physiological research dealt primarily with cardiovascular function and regional blood flow.

Jay W. Buchta Award for Excellence in Physics

Jay W. Buchta, President in 1940, was the executive secretary of the American Association of Physics Teachers. As the chair of the Physics Department at the University of Minnesota, Buchta was responsible for bringing Frank Oppenheimer to Minnesota and was in correspondence with Richard Feynman and other renowned physicists as the editor of The Physics Teacher. Dr. Buchta received the Oersted Medal in 1958 for his contributions to the teaching of physics.

Stirling P. Stackhouse Award for Excellence in Social Science

Stirling P. Stackhouse, President in 1975, worked at Honeywell and at the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Stackhouse’s research focused on human factors and traffic safety. He conducted focus groups to determine effective ways to reduce speeds in work zones and researched psychophysiological stress and highway safety. His research on driver multitasking helped establish guidelines for message format suitability on devices such as cell phones and pagers.