Hoffman Inducted into Faculty Hall of Fame

May 6, 2016 | Stacey Ortman

photo by: juwan murphy                                     

Dr. Adam Hoffman, associate professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Dubuque, interacts 
with a student in class recently. Hoffman was inducted into the UD Facluty Hall of Fame.

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Dr. Adam Hoffman, associate professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Dubuque, dropped a gummy bear in a test tube of molten potassium chlorate.

Students were in awe as flames burst from the test tube, demonstrating first-hand the release of energy from the chemical bonds in food.

 “It was basically oxygen reacting with sugar,” Hoffman said after the class earlier this week. “It’s a very exothermic reaction, so it’s releasing heat.”

He was one of two inducted into the University’s Faculty Hall of Fame for Excellence in Teaching and Advising on April 28 at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club. The event was established in 1995-96 by Richard and Donna Svrluga to recognize the contributions and impact of faculty on the lives of students. Awards are named in honor of former distinguished faculty members – John Knox Coit and William Lomax. Hoffman was recognized with the William L. Lomax Award.

“It was really neat to be recognized by peers and administrators for doing a job fairly well,” he said humbly. “Everyone’s been so helpful here. Everyone’s so supportive. Although I won the award, it was almost like a team award.”

Hoffman holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota-Morris and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the faculty at UD in 2008, and he directs the Chlapaty Summer Fellowship Program, advises the Web of Life student group, and is a member of the advisory board for the Wendt Character Initiative. Hoffman is also the Dorothy Taylor Chair in Chemistry at UD.

“Interacting with the students is my favorite part of teaching, helping them obtain their goals is just fantastic,” Hoffman said.

Students appreciate Hoffman’s ability to explain complex concepts in more simple, enjoyable way.

“He’s a good professor,” said Anthony Coltson, a junior chemistry major from Burke, Virginia. “He’s always there to help you understand the content better in class.”

Abby Willis, a sophomore human health science major from DeWitt, Iowa, agreed.

“He’s probably one of the friendliest professors I’ve ever met,” she said, adding. “He’s always happy and it’s really, really nice because chemistry doesn’t make a lot of people happy.”

Willis said when she meets with Hoffman one-on-one, he always seems to remember something from a past conversation or a struggle she had in class. She values that personal connection.

Hoffman said it’s important for him to combine fun and real-world applications in class.

 “The gummy bear example was an example of chemical energy. Rather than just talking about chemical energy, we can show that demonstration as one of the examples of chemical energy,” he said.

Hoffman is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Iowa Academy of Science, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, and the American Geophysical Union. His research expertise is water quality and he recently received financial support from the American Swedish Institute for a lake restoration project in Växjö, Sweden.

The Rev. Timothy Matthew Slemmons, associate professor of homiletics and worship at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, was also inducted into the Faculty Hall of Fame. Click here to read his story.