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Butterfield Receives Presidential Award

Allan Butterfield, a University of Kentucky chemistry professor, received White House recognition last September for his years of helping students. Butterfield received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, particularly for his work with women and minorities. The award includes a $10,000 National Science Foundation grant to further his mentoring work.

Photo of Allan Butterfield"I was extremely honored to learn that I would receive this award," Butterfield says. "There were 10 recipients in the United States, and to be in such a distinguished group was very humbling." Among his first reactions to being notified of this honor, he says, was the feeling that he was being recognized for something he does as a matter of course. "I have consciously tried to recruit females to my research group, and I have had many Appalachian undergraduate and graduate students over the years. So, in trying to help these students, I was pursuing my own passion."

Since Butterfield came to UK in 1975, he has advised 40 doctoral and master's degree candidates, has worked with more than 70 undergraduates in his laboratory and with about 100 students as director of the UK Center of Membrane Sciences. Many of those students have been involved in Butterfield's study of the effect of antioxidants such as vitamin E on Alzheimer's disease.

"It was truly inspirational being at the White House," Butterfield says. "I was privileged to meet President Clinton for about one-half hour in the Oval Office. This room has so much history and majesty to it, it was awesome in the true meaning of that word."

Butterfield adds that this meeting was followed by a presidential address to the award recipients and their guests in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, where Clinton spoke on the importance of mentoring and the desire to make the face of science and engineering reflect the face of America.

"Allan has been very active in training undergraduate and graduate students," says Boyd Haley, the UK chemistry chairman, who nominated Butterfield for the award. "Chemistry is extremely difficult and many times it scares students. And one thing you have to do is get them in the lab and doing experiments."

"My philosophy of mentoring can easily be summarized: require the highest possible standards and expectations, while providing the encouragement, support, and resources to help students achieve those standards and expectations," Butterfield says.