Dr. Cernota Accepted to Chem “Hall of Fame”

Paul Cernota, Instructor in Chemistry and Scheduling Officer, was accepted as a member of the Aula Laudis Society, the “Hall of Fame” for high school chemistry teachers, by the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) last week. According to Cernota, approximately four to five teachers are inducted into the society per year. The distinction came as a surprise for Cernota, who expected the letter from the ACS to be an invitation to watch the award ceremony, but was instead informed that he was to be honored. Cernota, also known as “Doc C,” said, “[The award] pretty much came as a surprise to me. I’m not really one hundred percent sure as to what I did in order to get elected.” According to Cernota, one of the factors in determining the recipients of the award is the performance of the teacher’s students on the Ashdown Exam, a qualifying exam for the United States Chemistry Olympiad. The Ashdown Exam was given on April 5 at Simmons College in Boston. According to Jack You ’10, the school sent the top two students from Chemistry 550, the top two from Chemistry 580, and one student who no longer takes chemistry to the Ashdown Exam. The top students were determined according to their performance on the Chemistry prize exam. You, one of the top scorers from Chemistry 580 and a student of Cernota’s, said, “I really like his teaching style, because the material we cover in 580 is definitely hard, but he makes it much simpler, and he lets us just know the essential concepts, rather than all the trivial details.” He continued, “The multiple choice that we regularly do for tests is really extensive, so I guess that’s why we were so well prepared for the prize exam and the Ashdown Exam.” Kevin Cardozo, Chair of the Chemistry Department and winner of the same award last spring, wrote in an email, “Dr. Cernota has become one of the veterans in the department, and over time he will become a legend based on his many years of successful teaching, so it is fitting that such an accomplished teacher receive this award.” Cardozo added, “We don’t explicitly prepare students for the Chemistry Olympiad, so the students’ success is an indicator that the high standards and quality in our current chemistry program are serving students well.” The award ceremony will be next Thursday at Northeastern University in Boston, and will feature a large banquet. Along with presenting the newest inductees to the Aula Laudis Society, the ACS will honor the winners of the Ashdown Exam and give prizes for undergraduate and graduate student research. Cernota said that other than sending students for the Ashdown Exam, he is “not particularly active” in the ACS. However, Cernota said that he has attended the award ceremony in the past when students who were receiving an award needed a ride.