Kevin Jones, Distinguished Professor and the Frederick N. Rhines Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, received the 2019 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.
Now in its eighth year, the honor recognizes one tenured, full professor faculty member from each of the 14 Southeastern Conference universities with a history of outstanding teaching combined with a nationally and/or internationally recognized research record. Jones was the recognized recipient from the University of Florida.
“I was thrilled to be selected for this award. There are so many great teachers at UF so it’s a tremendous honor to represent the University,” Jones said. “From having grown up selling sodas at Gator football games when I was 10 to receiving my undergraduate degree here, I have always been a huge Gator fan but I never thought I would have the honor of representing UF at anything in the Southeastern Conference. So, this acknowledgement from the SEC is particularly wonderful.”
Jones was also named UF’s 2017-2018 Teacher-Scholar of the Year, the oldest and highest honor awarded by the University.
“Dr. Jones’ tireless commitment to his students, his research, and our department as a whole has proven invaluable to both the University of Florida and to the larger world around us,” said Michele Manuel, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. “Receiving the 2019 SEC Faculty Achievement Award on the heels of his 2018 UF Teacher-Scholar Award places him among the best of the best higher education has to offer and we are fortunate to have him as part of the UF family.”
Jones’ own research focuses on semiconductors and he is a fellow of many societies, but sharing his materials science knowledge with incoming engineering and liberal arts students through his class “The Impact of Materials on Society” (IMOS), taught in collaboration with the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is what truly gets him excited.
“I really enjoy not only introducing materials science to such a wide array of students, but also hearing the liberal arts faculty talk about materials from their own viewpoints,” Jones said. “Materials science is everything we use from metals to plastics and they have had a tremendous impact on how we have evolved as a society, so there is a natural connection that is fun to explore.”
The goal of the IMOS course is twofold: help prospective engineers become more socially aware, and also help liberal arts students get a better understanding of engineering concepts. It enjoyed such an enthusiastic response at UF campus that the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense have helped spread it not only around the United States, but also into Central and South America and Africa.
“I have always believed that teaching is the greatest job one could have so I try to bring that level of enthusiasm to the classroom every day,” said Jones. “I look forward to continuing to do so for years to come and trying to live up to the SEC tradition of having the best teachers in the country.”
The SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners are selected by the member university provosts, and the recognition was designed by the conference to support and promote the academic endeavors and achievements of its students, faculty and administrators. Jones also receives a $5,000 honorarium from the SEC.