Eric Mazur wins special grant from Dreyfus Foundation

Special grant in the Chemical Sciences will support applied physicist's innovative teaching

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation has awarded Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, a 2010 Special Grant in the Chemical Sciences.

The $42,000 award will support Mazur's project entitled Advancing Teaching and Learning in the Chemical Sciences through Technology-Based Innovations.

An internationally recognized scientist and researcher, he leads a vigorous research program in optical physics. He has made important contributions to spectroscopy, light scattering, the interaction of ultrashort laser pulses with materials, and nanophotonics.

After obtaining a Ph.D. degree in experimental physics at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1981, Mazur came to Harvard University in 1982. In 1984 he joined the faculty and obtained tenure six years later.

In 1988 he was awarded a Presidential Young Investigator Award. He is Fellow of the Optical Society of America and Fellow of the American Physical Society, and has been named APS Centennial Lecturer during the Society's centennial year.

In 2007 Mazur was appointed Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar. In 2008 he received the Esther Hoffman Beller award from the Optical Society of America and the Millikan Medal from the American Association of Physics Teachers.

In addition to his work in optical physics, Mazur is interested in education, science policy, outreach, and the public perception of science. He believes that better science education for all -- not just science majors -- is vital for continued scientific progress.

To this end, Mazur devotes part of his research group's effort to education research and finding verifiable ways to improve science education. In 1990 he began developing Peer Instruction a method for teaching large lecture classes interactively. Mazur's teaching method has developed a large following, both nationally and internationally, and has been adopted across many science disciplines.

Mazur is one of 13 Special Grant award recipients in 2010. The complete list of awards is available at


About the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences supports proposed projects that aim to advance the chemical sciences in a variety of ways.  They typically originate from scientific societies, educational institutions, and organizations that promote science to the public.

“The Special Grant is essentially a seed program that is unique in that it annually solicits from the chemistry community, and from those who advocate for science, innovative ways to advance the chemical sciences,” states Dr. Mark Cardillo, Executive Director of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. “Through this program the Dreyfus Foundation is often able to help start programs that deal with the most contemporary issues in the chemical sciences.”  Since its inception in 1946, the program has provided over $47,000,000 in funding.

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is a leading non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences.  It was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor, and businessman Camille Dreyfus. He directed that the Foundation's purpose be "to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances."

For more information about the program and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, see

Topics: Applied Physics, Academics

Scientist Profiles

Eric Mazur

Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics