PUI Paragon

Kalamazoo College Chemistry Professor Laura FurgeLaura Furge, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Professor of Chemistry, is a feature profile in a recent ASBMB Today, the professional development magazine of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The article, titled “Working at a PUI,” focuses on the demands and rewards faculty face at “primarily undergraduate institutions.” Turns out rewards and demands may be so intertwined they’re indistinguishable.  For example, Furge’s academic wheelhouse is biochemistry, and yet she also teaches classes in organic chemistry and general chemistry and even a first-year writing seminar on cancer. The latter has become one of her favorite classes, a case in point of the demand-and-reward hybrid. Furge also notes that at PUIs the professor is the inter-generational “continuity of knowledge.” That vital function requires patience and broader skills on the part of the professor (demand) and makes a PUI professor-investigator-mentor like Furge the progenitor of generations of chemists and chemistry educators–think of Sarah in the Book of Genesis or Celeste in Edward P. Jones’ novel The Known World. That latter reference underscores another for Furge’s great strengths (one the PUI article misses): a fierce commitment to the liberal arts. The Known World was Kalamazoo College’s Summer Common Reading choice in 2007. Furge sits on the committee that selects these works. She also will begin her duties as associate provost at Kalamazoo College beginning July 1.