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Date: April 12, 2000

UVic's Outspoken "Science Guy" Named Academic Of The Year

University of Victoria chemistry professor Dr. Reg Mitchell --known to thousands of local schoolchildren as "Dr. Zonk" --has been named Academic of the Year by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. (CUFA/BC).

The award honours Mitchell for his accomplishments as a chemist and teacher, and in particular for his efforts to raise public awareness of science. "He's taken his love of science and worked very hard to involve young people," says Jim Gaskell, president of CUFA/BC. The organization represents faculty members at B.C.'s four largest universities.

Mitchell's community work has taken several forms. For more than 25 years, he's been presenting the "Dr. Zonk" show, in which he dresses up like a mad scientist, complete with green wig, and does a lively chemistry show for local school groups. He's also a longtime organizer of the Vancouver Island Regional Science Fair, held at UVic every spring. And his regular guest spots on C-FAX radio help educate listeners about the role of chemistry in their everyday lives, from sewage and pesticides to climate change.

"When you say the word 'chemical' to the public, they automatically think about toxins," says Mitchell. "There are some chemicals that are bad, but they're certainly not all bad. I don't like to see misinformation spouted about."

Mitchell joined UVic in 1972 and, as a longtime member of the university's senate, is well-known on campus for his outspoken views. He is consistently ranked among the best teachers in the chemistry department and received a UVic faculty of science teaching award in 1998. "I get across to students by cutting through all the garbage and showing them what's relevant in real life," he says. "I'm a natural showman--just give me a microphone and a crowd."

Note: "Dr. Zonk" will be performing on Monday, April 17, 9 a.m. in the Elliott Building, room 168, as part of the 2000 Vancouver Island
Regional Science Fair.

Media contacts:
Dr. Reg Mitchell (chemistry) at (250) 721-7159.
Rob Clift, executive director, CUFA/BC at (604) 646-4677.
Valerie Shore, UVic Communications at (250) 721-7641.

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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