UNC Greensboro Provost Debbie Storrs and Dean John Z. Kiss (College of Arts & Sciences) have announced that Dr. Mitchell Croatt will be appointed the Marie Foscue Rourk Professor of Chemistry beginning January 1. In making the announcement, they noted that Croatt is an exceptional scholar and researcher, teacher, and mentor to students.
This professorship is named for Marie Foscue Rourk who graduated from Woman’s College (now UNC Greensboro) in 1927 with a degree in chemistry.
“Mitch is an exceptional teacher-scholar and serves as a role model to his faculty in his current role as head of the Department of Chemistry,” said Dean Kiss. “He cares deeply about his students who are actively engaged in his fascinating research program.”
Croatt’s research focuses on developing new ways of making organic molecules. He has pioneered new approaches to form bonds between carbon atoms, a process that is central to all chemical processes in living organisms. This research is particularly applicable in medicinal settings – in the treatment of chronic pain and in developing preventative medicines for strokes, for example.
As a principal or co-principal investigator, Croatt has secured more than $3 million in federal research funding. He is a recipient of the CAREER award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious grant for early-career faculty. His peer-reviewed papers have been referenced nearly 1,000 times by scientists around the world.
Mentoring students is of vital importance to Croatt, who actively involves both undergraduate and graduate students in his laboratory’s research. Over the course of his career, he has mentored 51 undergraduate students and 20 graduate students.
“I take incredible joy in mentoring students and helping prepare them for their ideal future career paths,” said Croatt. “My current and past mentors positioned me to have successes far beyond what I thought was possible, and I try to pay this forward to the students who I mentor in my research group and in the classes I teach.”
Croatt shared that he also takes great pride in UNCG’s no. 1 ranking in North Carolina for social mobility.
“My first two jobs in rural Minnesota were working on our pig farm and then a local amusement park so I know firsthand how education can impact career opportunities.”
This dedication to student success carries over to the classroom as well, where Croatt regularly receives positive reviews from both students and peer reviewers.
“Mitch’s mentorship and teaching helps get undergraduates excited about STEM and prepares them for advanced degree programs,” said Kiss in his nomination letter. “He epitomizes the phrase ‘teacher-scholar.'”
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications