William C. K. Pomerantz receives Horace T. Morse Award

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (3/11/2024) - Merck Professor of Chemistry William C. K. Pomerantz recently received the Horace T. Morse Award, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. He is recognized as “an exceptional teacher, educator, mentor, and scholar within his field of chemical biology.”

Each year since 1965-66, the University of Minnesota has recognized a select group of faculty members for their outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. The 2024 award announcements commend Pomerantz: “His passion for undergraduate education is reflected in student feedback, student outcomes, peer assessments, course development, and mentoring that engages students in new and remarkably effective ways. His contributions have improved engagement in organic chemistry, enhanced scientific communication skills through developing new courses and writing initiatives, and produced successful chemists and medical professionals fostered through mentorship in his research laboratory.”

“Since joining our department in 2012, Prof. Pomerantz’s teaching, both in the classroom and beyond, has been excellent. He has demonstrated an extraordinary passion for student engagement in our core discipline and interdisciplinary chemical biology topics. This passion has been recognized through a consistent track record of excellent teaching evaluations, teaching awards, and pedagogical initiatives within and outside the university," Nominator Professor David Blank notes. "He has taught over 1800 undergraduates since arriving in 2012. Prof. Pomerantz has made a significant impact on our teaching mission and is helping shape our department’s trajectory in student education. His innovations in the classroom and enthusiasm for student learning make him an outstanding choice to represent our College’s educational mission.”

Pomerantz joined the UMN faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2012; he received promotion to full professor in summer 2023. His chemistry research focuses on the development of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry approaches for modulating transcription factor function through disruption of protein-protein interactions, with a significant focus in the area of epigenetics. Several areas of innovation have included the application of protein-observed 19F NMR (PrOF NMR) for fragment-based drug discovery, development of new epigenetic inhibitors of BET and non-BET bromοdomains, the design of highly fluorinated molecules for 19F MRI, and a new research direction in  sustainable organofluorine chemistry. Pomerantz’s research group is made up of 13 graduate students, five undergraduates, and one postdoctoral associate.

In addition to the research in his lab, Pomerantz is engaged in the chemistry community at UMN and beyond. He is currently the co-director of the NIH T32 Chemistry Biology Interface Training Grant (CBITG), which works to provide rigorous and interdisciplinary training to a diverse and inclusive community of biomedical scientists. In October 2023, Pomerantz was named a new Topic Editor for ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, an ACS Transformative Journal. He is a standing member for the NIH Chemical Biology and Probes study section, current Vice-chair of the High throughput Chemistry and Chemical biology GRC, and was a founding member of the UMN epigenetics consortium. He finished serving as the global council co-chair for the International  Chemical  Biology Society (ICBS) and councilor for the Minnesota American Chemical  Society Chapter last year.

Pomerantz has been recognized with many honors, including the George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Teaching (2022), the NIH Maximizing Investigators Research Award (2021), being selected to co-lead the International Chemical Biology Society Global Council in 2020, the McKnight Presidential Fellowship in (2018), the Guillermo E. Borja Career Development Award (2018), being named a Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (2016), the international Chemical Biology Society’s Rising Star Award (2016),  the University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship (2016-2018), the Kimmel Scholar Award from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research (2015), and an NSF CAREER Award (2014).