Lenny Demoranville receives Kentucky Academy of Science award

Centre College’s Lenny Demoranville, assistant professor of chemistry, recently received the Kentucky Academy of Science’s (KAS) 2018 Excellence in Science Education and Outreach Award.

According to KAS, Demoranville has found creative ways to improve science on-and off-campus, referring to how he’s recently used funding from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) to improve science literacy at Centre.

The KAS award provides recognition for unique activities, educational program or approaches that have increased the involvement, engagement and sustainability of science in Kentucky.

Demoranville was nominated for the award by fellow faculty members January Haile, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry & molecular biology, and Jennifer Muzyka, H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Chemistry.

“Science outreach is something that is critical for our society,” Demoranville said. “So many issues of today—climate change, gene editing, the opioid epidemic—have at their root a need for scientific understanding. The decisions that must be made about these issues include far more than science, but science needs to inform the discussions.”

Demoranville added that often, when he informs someone that he’s a chemist, the response is a groan, followed by a story of a terrible experience within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. He said that it is his hope that these activities lead to an understanding that science can be fun, interesting and accessible.

“I hope folks walk away with a sense that they can overcome whatever prior negative experience they had and interact with STEM in a meaningful way,” he said. “I hope that they then can be better informed citizens, contributing to larger discussions about our pressing societal needs.”

He expressed that he enjoys teaching natural science, because he works with non-science major students and is able to help them realize that STEM issues are important and accessible to anyone.

Demoranville said he imagines that his role as advisor to Centre’s Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) student group also played a role in his selection for the award.

“In a way, this award honors not only my work but the work of so many Centre students, including GEMS founder Ceci Volbrecht ’17, who has actually been in the local schools promoting STEM through fun activities.”

In addition, Demoranville said he’s enjoyed working with the alumni office to host several events where he’s discussed the chemistry of bourbon. His current project has been working with Genius Games on their science review team and the writing and editing panels for their “Science Behind” booklets that are included in their board games “Subatomic” and “Periodic.”

by Kerry Steinhofer
November 13, 2018