Exemplifying Excellence according to the Kent State Model
Zhiqiang Molly Wang, PhD, was recently promoted to full professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Kent State Geauga and the Regional Academic Center. Also, last spring semester, she was honored at Kent State's 9th Annual Mothers, Mentors and Muses Celebration for her nurturing ‘Mother’ role among students, helping to birth new ideas and to nurture a supportive academic environment. These accomplishments follow Dr. Wang’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017, which is the university’s most prestigious honor for tenured faculty who demonstrate exceptional teaching in the classroom and unwavering dedication to their students.
But these most recent achievements merely scratch the surface of Dr. Wang’s depth of accomplishments — all which reflect Kent State's exceedingly high standards, ideals, and expectations. The university’s core attributes include distinctive academics and meaningful research, climate for collaboration, powerful philosophy in practice, source for social good, life-changing educational experiences for students, and genuine sense of place… all while embodying creativity, diversity and forward-thinking vision. While these attributes describe Kent State, they also describe Dr. Wang.
Distinctive Academics & Meaningful Research - Dr. Wang says that she is passionately engaged in bioinorganics and biochemistry, specifically focusing on the functions of metal ions in human diseases. She earned a post-doctorate position with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and then became a funded research associate and project scientist. For the past 18 years, she has been working with the iron-containing enzyme, nitric oxide synthase. This enzyme generates nitric oxide molecules which exert critical and diverse functions in human bodies and regulate mitochondrial respiration as well as cell functions in human diseases. Dr. Wang is also studying the role of copper ion in cancer and in pulmonary hypertension with the goal to apply chelating nanoparticles to treat an array of human diseases. Dr. Wang's productive research has resulted in having 51 peer-reviewed articles published in esteemed scholarly journals. She has also presented her research findings in national or international conferences across the US, in Canada, China, Japan, Italy, France, and Greece.
Climate for Collaboration - When Dr. Wang was honored during the Mothers, Mentors and Muses Celebration, she was recognized as a mentor among her peers. She was described as “inclusive with faculty of all ranks,” helping and advising others when serving on and chairing various committees. In his nomination of Dr. Wang, mathematics professor Joseph Kratky recognized her as a “genuinely reliable and engaging professor.” In turn, Dr. Wang says, “I feel very lucky and thankful for being a part of the Kent State community. It is my cradle and my home. It nurtures me to grow into a better teacher, mentor and community member.”
Powerful Philosophy in Practice - Dr. Wang’s teaching philosophy is simple in theory yet challenging to implement: “I am very enthusiastic and passionate about teaching; I love my students! My teaching philosophy is to inspire, engage, care and be a role model. My style helps to create an academic environment for the intellectual and professional development of students. I want to make my students want to learn chemistry, to understand how it connects to everyday life, and to become lifelong learners.”
Source for Social Good - Dr. Wang is actively engaged in several community outreach programs. She has volunteered as a science fair judge, faculty representative at the Geauga County Fair, and coach for the middle school Science Olympiad. She was also the keynote speaker at the “Women in STEM” event for iSTEM Geauga High School students, participated in “Science Night” at Berkshire School, and presented at the Honors Symposium on Kent State Tuscarawas campus. Dr. Wang is planning the second annual Women in STEM event for later this spring.
Life-Changing Educational Experiences for Students - “Engaging students in research is an effective way to improve their reading, writing and critical thinking skills,” Dr. Wang says. “I offer them the opportunity to pursue independent research and to present their findings in both seminar and conference settings so they gain experience and apply critical skills to real life. My personal goal is to give them opportunities, challenges, and encouragement.”
Genuine Sense of Place - A core idea at Kent State University is students first. “We are family!” says Dr. Wang. When students first walk in, they are so afraid of my chemistry class. But I start class with a smile to help them relax. They appreciate my teaching style because I’m approachable, patient and I welcome all questions. With a 24-student maximum class size at KSU-Geauga, I know each student by their name.”
Altogether, Dr. Wang’s achievements serve as catalysts for her next set of accomplishments. “I feel very honored to receive these awards and recognition,” she says. “I feel great when my work is appreciated by students, faculty and the campus community. It encourages me to be more creative and engaging in my classroom, and to continue making a difference in students’ lives as I motivate them to gain knowledge and skills for lifelong learning.”