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March 15, 2012

Chemist Ruth Stark Receives Sloan Public Service Award

Maggie Boepple, a member of the selection committee, presents Professor Ruth Stark with the Sloan Public Service Award.
Maggie Boepple, a member of the
selection committee, presents Professor Ruth Stark with the Sloan Public Service Award.

CCNY Distinguished Professor, Acting Dean One of Six New York City Employees Honored as Extraordinary Civil Servants

Dr. Ruth Stark, distinguished professor of chemistry and acting dean of science at The City College of New York, is one of six extraordinary city employees to receive the 2012 Sloan Public Service Award. She was recognized Wednesday, March 14, at two ceremonies- on the CCNY campus and at Cooper Union- and was presented with the $10,000 prize that accompanies the award.

Dean Stark was honored for her contributions in bringing together talented scientists from complementary fields, for her excellence in mentoring and for being a role model to a generation of young women and men from diverse backgrounds.

“Ruth combines a tremendous energy and a commitment to rigorous science with a wonderful dedication to nurturing young women and men in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields,” said CCNY President Lisa S. Coico in congratulating her earlier. “This award recognizes her special talents. We are very proud to count her among our faculty.”

“Ruth is one of those rare individuals who is equally and superlatively talented in all areas: research, teaching and senior academic administration,” added CCNY Provost Martin Moskovits.

In a video interview, Dean Stark credited CCNY’s and CUNY’s unique climate as a motivating factor: “The extra satisfaction of being at a public institution is that you can feel that you have unlocked something in students that was always there, but might not have come out to flower.”

Regarded as “the Nobel Prize of city government,” the 39-year-old Sloan Public Service Award is presented annually by the Fund for the City of New York.  It is awarded to civil servants selected for their exemplary job performance and tireless dedication to the public. Sloan Public Service Award winners come from all levels and ranks of the municipal workforce and are selected by a diverse and independent panel that was chaired this year by Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan.

Having defied convention to become a chemist at a time when few women entered the field, Dean Stark is an eminent scientist and an inspiring role model for hundreds of young men and women from diverse backgrounds. She earned her PhD in physical chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and completed her postdoctoral training at MIT.

After teaching at Amherst College, in 1985 Dr. Stark became an associate professor of chemistry at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) College of Staten Island and the institution’s first woman to build her own scientific research program. She became the founding director of the CUNY Macromolecular Assemblies Institute in 2003 and was promoted to Distinguished Professor in 2005.

She and her team moved to CCNY in 2007. In June 2010, Professor Stark was appointed acting dean of science, a position from which she will soon step down to focus on teaching and research.

The author of 95 highly cited scientific papers, the selection committee recognized Dean Stark for her unique ability to assemble talent across disciplines. She initiated a research coordination network for emerging biomolecular technologies that has evolved into a worldwide support group funded by the National Science Foundation.

Dean Stark is the third CCNY faculty member to receive a Sloan Award. Previous recipients are Dr. Myriam Sarachik, distinguished professor of physics, in 2004, and Dr. Sheldon Weinbaum, distinguished professor emeritus of mechanical & biomedical engineering, in 1988.

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