In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and all its challenges for students, 16 undergraduate scholars have found a supportive research home in Chemistry Professor Dan Rabinovich’s lab group. They are among the 144 undergraduates that Rabinovich has mentored throughout his 25 years at UNC Charlotte.
“I have also mentored several visiting undergraduate students from other institutions, and about 50 high school students, and that brings the ‘big total’ to about 250 undergraduate and high school students advised in research during the past 25 years,” Rabinovich said. “I think it's worth mentioning that I couldn't have possibly done it all by myself, and I have tremendously benefited from the help of 33 students who were pursuing master’s degrees and have worked in my lab over the years.”
For these significant and long-standing contributions to the professional development of undergraduates, and in honor of his own research, Rabinovich has received the top award presented by the American Chemical Society each year to a researcher who mentors undergraduate scholars in an outstanding manner. Research Corporation for Science Advancement sponsors the award.
“I like the challenge of designing projects that can be carried out by students conducting research on a part-time basis, because they are usually full-time students and have many other obligations,” he says. “I enjoy helping students develop a variety of universal skills that will serve them well in the future regardless of their career goals, such as communication skills through preparation of posters and oral presentations, critical thinking, and time management.”
Colleagues commend Rabinovich for challenging students to conduct innovative research, publish their work in scientific journals, and present their work at conferences.
“I have attended research presentations that many of his undergraduate students have made at regional and national ACS meetings, with more than 240 total student presentations from his research group,” said Gregory J. Grant, Grote Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “These presentations have always been excellent, and you can clearly see that Dan has prepared them very well. I have been amazed at the quality of inorganic research that Dan has been able to achieve with his high school students.”
Whether it is to show someone how to use a Schlenk line, analyze the carbon-13 NMR spectrum of a new compound or discuss an unexpected X-ray structure, it gives him great joy to work with students in the laboratory, Rabinovich said.
“When I see a student solve a problem that I considered particularly difficult or carry out an experiment that I thought might not work, I am motivated to push students and myself even further,” he stated.