Tzvetelin Iordanov, Ph.D. associate professor of chemistry, is Georgia Southwestern State University’s 2011-12 Featured Scholar.

Teaching with research: GSW chemistry professor Tzvetelin Iordanov  is 2011-2012 Featured Scholar

AMERICUS (Nov. 4, 2011)--Tzvetelin Iordanov, Ph.D. associate professor of chemistry, was today announced as Georgia Southwestern State University’s 2011-12 Featured Scholar by President Kendall Blanchard, Ph.D.

The public is invited to join the GSW community at a reception honoring Iordanov Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Wheatley Administration Building.

“Dr. Iordanov is a model college professor,” said Blanchard. “He brings to the classroom outstanding credentials and his own involvement in cutting edge research. In addition, he is a great colleague who remains actively involved in the life of the campus outside his own department. This recognition is well deserved.”

As a professor at an institution that focuses more on teaching, Iordanov acknowledges the importance of an award like this.

“There is a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “Research is really slow because time, human resources – like students – and funding are scarce. It’s a big thing for our professors.”

Iordanov’s research activity dates back to his time as a student at Sofia University in his native Bulgaria where he studied with Boris Galabov, Ph.D. Iordanov’s research focus is primarily physical chemistry, which is a sub-discipline of chemistry and physics. He says it is a fairly broad area.

“Physical chemistry can go from theoretical to instrumental analysis,” said Iordanov. “At GSW, I primarily teach analytical chemistry and instrumental analysis. My publications are in theoretical and physical chemistry.”

To date, Iordanov has authored or co-authored 10 peer reviewed journal articles (cited 325 times) and has presented three papers since joining the GSW faculty in 2005. Some of his methods have been implemented into software programs, and he co-authored computational chemistry software known as General Atomic and Molecular Electronic Structure System (GAMESS). This software is maintained by the members of the Gordon research group at Iowa State University.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s level degrees in Bulgaria, Iordanov began working on his doctorate at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. When his advisor, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Ph.D., left Notre Dame for The Pennsylvania State University in 2000, Iordanov and his wife, Nellie Iordanova, Ph.D. (also a chemistry professor at GSW), followed and finished there in 2003. Between 2003 and 2005, both Tzvetelin and Nellie worked as post-doctoral research scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington.

In 2005, they both joined the Georgia Southwestern Chemistry Department faculty. At the time, though, Iordanov was not excited about the idea of teaching.

“I wasn’t afraid of doing research,” he said. “I didn’t want to go and be a professor anywhere because I was really afraid of teaching, but it turns out, it is not that bad. I started enjoying it slowly. Initially, it was a scary task to start teaching. Standing in front of people didn’t bother me, but knowing that you were the one that was responsible for student’s moving on did.”

Iordanov has adjusted quite well and has settled in with a teaching style that he is familiar with, one that challenges students to think differently.

“The way that I teach – by doing research – is the way that I was taught back in Bulgaria, at Notre Dame and at Penn State,” said Iordanov. “It is different than what some students expect. Sometimes they don’t like it.”

His method works, though. Iordanov spoke of a former student, Jesse Davis, who had a job interview with a chemical company in Atlanta. The company had Davis take a standardized exam and perform some practical applications. He aced the exam – most interviewees fail it.

According to Iordanov, Davis said it was good the way he pushed him to do things. Davis said that it actually worked out very well for him. Though offered, Davis did not take the job and is now a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville.

While at GSW, Iordanov has presented invited talks at the University of Florida, the University of Central Florida, the 83rd Florida American Chemical Society meeting, and he served as an Emerson Center Visiting Fellow at Emory University in Atlanta in July 2006 and 2007. He has also earned three Distinguished Professor Grants and five Faculty Development Grants. Adding the Featured Scholar Award to his resume only made sense.

President Blanchard initiated the Featured Scholar Award in 2008 to recognize, once a year, a GSW faculty member who has made significant contributions to his or her discipline in the form of artistic accomplishment, basic research, writing, publishing, editing, presenting and grant awards. The award recipient is chosen by a committee of faculty members representing each school selected by the Faculty Senate chaired by the past recipient of the award. It carries a stipend of $500.

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Tzvetelin Iordanov, Ph.D., is the 2011-2012 Featured Scholar at Georgia Southwestern State University.

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