MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Middlebury College has named Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Rick Bunt the recipient of the 2007 Perkins Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award honors outstanding teaching performance in science and mathematics. A ceremony and reception will be held on Tuesday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 219 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125).

The annual award’s focus is on the natural sciences. It is granted to a faculty member in one of the five natural science departments - biology, chemistry, geology, physics and computer science - every other year, alternating with a faculty member in the mathematics department. The award includes recognition on plaques in Warner Hall and McCardell Bicentennial Hall, as well as a grant for the support of further professional development.

Bunt earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s of science in chemistry from Northwestern University in 1990, and a doctorate in chemistry from Stanford University in 1996. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the chemistry department from 1996-1998 before joining the faculty at Middlebury College in 1998.
His current research focuses on how catalytic processes of both traditional organic reactions and biological enzyme reactions occur at the detailed molecular level, and much of this work is done in what he and his students call the “The Bunt Lab.”

Bunt has taught courses on general and organic chemistry, as well as the organic mechanisms of enzyme catalysis. He has also taught two first-year seminars titled “The Modern Age of Science” and “Science Risk, Reward and Public Policy.” He recently received grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Vermont Genetics Network and regularly oversees several senior thesis projects in his areas of expertise. 

The Professor Llewellyn R. Perkins and Dr. Ruth M.H. Perkins Memorial Faculty Research Fund, which provides the award, was made possible by the gift of Dr. Ruth M.H. Perkins, a 1932 Middlebury graduate, in memory of her husband, Professor Llewellyn R. Perkins. Professor Perkins taught at Middlebury College from 1914 until his retirement in 1941. During the course of his tenure at Middlebury, he founded and chaired the mathematics department. Their children, Marion Perkins Harris, a 1957 Middlebury graduate and science teacher, and Dr. David L. Perkins, a physician, augmented the fund and expanded the scope of the award to honor their mother, Ruth, as well. She was an educator in Vermont and a professor of math education at Temple University in Philadelphia.