May 19, 2006

Case awards mentoring honors to the late "Doc Oc" and to geological sciences faculty member

Ignacio Ocasio and Beverly Saylor receive J. Bruce Jackson, M.D., Award for excellence in undergraduate mentoring; Ocasio awarded posthumously

Ignacio J. Ocasio
"Doc Oc"—Ignacio J. Ocasio

The Case Western Reserve University J. Bruce Jackson, M.D., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring for 2006 has been awarded to Beverly Saylor, associate professor of geological sciences, and Ignacio Ocasio, the Teagle Professor of Chemistry better known to the campus community as the beloved "Doc Oc."

Doc Oc died suddenly in May 2005 at the age of 53. He will be awarded the Jackson honor posthumously at Case's undergraduate diploma ceremony at University Commencement Sunday, May 21.

He is remembered by his nominator for "his cheery affect and unending positive communication ensuring that his students knew he was someone who cared and always naturally performed selfless acts."

The undergraduate student who nominated Doc Oc, also remembers "how Doc helped to make Case a place capable of educating students while helping them to prosper in their personal lives as well. His true genius was not for research, but rather for accommodating the needs of the freshman class. He dedicated his life to his students and for this we are all grateful for his family to have shared him with us for so many years."

Edward M. Hundert, M.D., president of Case, remembered Doc Oc as "a classically trained pianist and prodigiously talented chemistry professor [who] came to Case in 1980. Since that time, thousands of students have passed through his chemistry courses and have been infected by his energy, enthusiasm and dedication."

In his nominating letter, the student continues, "Doc, I miss you. We all miss you. Benedictus dominus vobiscum."

Saylor is described by her nominator as an "… inspiration, both scientifically and personally. Her passion and dedication to both work and family contradicted all the discouraging things I had been told about women being able to balance the two."

Her nominator, a senior who will graduate May 21 with a bachelor's degree in geological sciences, says that Saylor welcomed her into her limnology lab, where she jumped right into Saylor's Lake Erie research "with zero experience but a lot of enthusiasm. Right from the start, she made it clear that I was an important part of the work—I learned various methods that geologists use to pull stories out of the mud, but also read scientific papers and participated in weekly discussions with Beverly and her graduate student on the current state of knowledge regarding Erie and lakes in general. All of a sudden, I was right there, on the cutting edge—exploring and discussing nature's puzzles, working on problems that nobody had solved yet."

By examining sediment cores from Lake Erie, the student, working with Saylor, found evidence for a climate warming event peaking around 2,900 years ago, which caused large amounts of calcite to precipitate from the lake waters.

"My experience with Beverly has given me the tools I needed to get as much as I could out of my classes," the student said.

Saylor also has led a study that is looking at ways to make coal burn cleaner, such as by capturing sulfur and carbon dioxide emissions, converting them into byproducts or storing them in the earth. Her research focused on storing the pollutant in the 500-million-year-old Rose Run formation—a sandy layer of earth approximately 100 feet thick and 4,000 feet beneath the earth's surface. The Rose Run formation extends beneath the entire eastern section of Ohio and into Pennsylvania and New York.

Saylor joined the geological sciences faculty at Case in 1999.

The J. Bruce Jackson, M.D., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring was established by J. Bruce Jackson, Adelbert College '52, in honor of Dean Carl F. Wittke. Wittke served as an adviser, mentor and friend to Jackson when he was an undergraduate at Western Reserve University. The Jackson Award recognizes outstanding advising and mentoring of undergraduate students at Case. The Jackson Award winners are recognized during the university's commencement weekend and receive a cash award of $2,000 and a plaque.

For more information: Laura M. Massie (216)-368-4442.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, May 19, 2006 11:42 AM | News Topics: College of Arts and Sciences

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