Nina Contis Celebrates 50 Years at EMU

Dr. Nina ContisIn 1971, the final episode of the Ed Sullivan Show aired and that autumn brought the opening of Walt Disney World, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the beginning of the Nina Contis era at EMU.  Since that time, there have been few areas within Academic Affairs that Nina has not influenced. 

Her first twenty years were spent in the classroom where she won a Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching in 1979, while she conducted research on short-lived fission products and the use of computers in chemical education.  Subsequently, she has served as the Director of the Women’s Studies Program, Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, Assistant Vice President for Academic Administrative Services, and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies and Curriculum.

More recently, Nina has taken her talents back to the classroom.  She coordinates the Fundamentals of Chemistry course, and she regularly teaches the Chemistry Department’s online general education courses.  In fact, she is currently developing an online lab for the Fundamentals of Chemistry course, to be taught this summer, an illustration that she is still providing new innovative opportunities for our students.  She is dedicated to developing learning strategies to engage students in STEM and is an advocate for women in science.

Since 2005, Nina has served as the Director of the Creative Scientific Inquiry Experiences program (CSIE).  In 2014, she was instrumental in the acquisition of a two million dollar grant from the Department of Education to institutionalize the CSIE program at EMU.  CSIE integrates courses in science with hands-on experiential learning and community projects, allowing students to work on real world problems.  CSIE also sponsors events and provides tutoring and faculty mentoring.

In addition, Nina is very involved in the American Chemical Society at the local, national, and international levels.  She has served as Councilor of the Huron Valley Local Section.  In 2015, she was named an ACS Fellow, for which she was nominated by her peers and selected based on her outstanding achievements and contributions to the science profession, and for providing excellent volunteer service to the ACS community.  Nina also chairs the Committee on International Activities for the ACS, where she has been involved in directing global strategic planning, developing a chapter for International Chemical Sciences, and co-organizing and chairing international conferences. She has been featured in Chemical & Engineering News, which is sent to all active members of the ACS, where she has written about global engagement as well as global thinking as part of ACS's efforts on diversity and inclusion. She also holds professional memberships in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Council on Undergraduate Research. In addition, Nina was a Fulbright Specialist Scholar from 2014 to 2019. 

Nina earned her B.S. from Youngstown State University, M.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.  She has numerous professional publications and presentations at both national and international forums, but her passion has been STEM education.  Her colleagues continue to enjoy working with her, and the EMU Chemistry department feels very fortunate to have benefitted from her enthusiastic service and expertise (including on the best food to order from a Greek menu) for an incredible 50 years!