14 January 2015: Professor Steven L Bernasek joins Yale-NUS as Science Divisional Director

Written by Clare Isabel Ee | Images as credited

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Image by Clare Isabel Ee

In July 2015, renowned chemist, Professor Steven L Bernasek, will join Yale-NUS College as the new Science Divisional Director.

“I am very excited to be joining Yale-NUS, and honoured to be able to have a role in developing the Division of Science faculty and curriculum,” said Professor Bernasek of his appointment.

He added: “I hope to help to develop an excellent faculty, dedicated to the ideal of education in the liberal arts and sciences.”

The inaugural Science Divisional Director, Associate Professor Kang Hway Chuan, will step down after a two-year term, during which he was instrumental in setting up the Science division.

“I would like to thank Hway Chuan for his two and a half years of service as Divisional Director in Science,” said Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis. “Hway Chuan has led us through a time of growth, as we have developed the faculty in science, outfitted our first research labs, designed important courses in the Common Curriculum, and planned for our majors.”

Professor Kang will pass the torch to Professor Bernasek in the new academic year to continue developing the Science division at Yale-NUS.

Steven Bernasek

Professor Steven Bernasek. Image provided by Professor Bernasek

Prior to joining the College, Professor Bernasek was a Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University. Over the last 16 years, he has also been a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Chemistry Department at NUS. He has had experience as an academic advisor to freshmen and sophomores, and was a Faculty Fellow at Rockefeller College, a residential learning community at Princeton University. From September 2014 to February 2015, Professor Bernasek also served as the interim Division Director of the Chemistry Division of the National Science Foundation. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has been a Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Professor Bernasek’s research focuses on the application of gas phase molecular reaction dynamics tools to the study of heterogeneous reactions, and he has published over 200 papers in a range of journals.

With such a comprehensive background, Professor Bernasek is now ready to pursue another interest at Yale-NUS.

“I have always been very interested in undergraduate education,” he shared. “I want to enable this faculty to carry out research for the benefit of the education of the students involved as well as the continued development of the teachers [and] scholars that make up the Yale-NUS faculty.”

In his opinion, science is an increasingly interdisciplinary endeavour, with disciplines such as the humanities and social sciences, as well as the various categories of science.

“I’m convinced that the practice of science in the modern world relies on grounding across the broad areas of the liberal arts and sciences, and I’m excited to be involved in bringing that type of learning to Yale-NUS College,” he said.

Hailing from Kansas, USA, Professor Bernasek is enthusiastic about the move to Southeast Asia.

“We are very much looking forward to the move to Singapore,” he shared. “My wife Sandy and I have enjoyed our previous shorter term visits to Singapore, and look forward to establishing ourselves as part of the community.

Read the press release on Professor Bernasek’s appointment here.