A strong start at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh proves a key component in the formula for success for two science majors set to receive alumni awards during Homecoming 2018.
Kenneth Mauritz, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Christopher Turoski, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, will both receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from UWO’s Alumni Association for their extraordinary and widely recognized accomplishments in higher education.
Mauritz, a 1967 mathematics and physics major and a 1970 master’s graduate, today has professor emeritus status with the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at the University of Southern Miss; while Turoski, a 1994 chemistry major, works as a professor and patent programs director at the University of Minnesota Law School.
Internationally known polymer scientist
With a doctorate in macromolecular science from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Mauritz began his career as a research scientist at Diamond Shamrock Co. He then taught at Lakeland Community College in Ohio, before joining the polymer science program at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg in 1984.
His work at Southern Miss involved studying materials related to chemical warfare, developing organic and inorganic nanocomposite materials, investigating novel biomaterials degradation and developing and testing nanostructured fuel cell membranes.
Mauritz’s work is described as “pioneering” in the fields of polymer physics, polymer chemistry and materials for energy applications, said close friend and professional colleague Robert Moore, the director of macromolecular science and engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia.
“It is my opinion that his scholarly contributions are truly remarkable and on par with our world’s most accomplished researchers,” Moore said. “Moreover, it is clear to all who have learned from this great scientist that he has always strived for excellence, and the knowledge he has created over his career has, on many accounts, redefined our field of functional materials.”
During his tenure, he published more than 200 research articles and mentored numerous postdoctoral associates, graduate students and undergraduates. Mauritz co-authored a definitive article in Chemical Reviews, which was one of the most-cited papers worldwide in 2004.
Jeffrey Wiggins, director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at Southern Miss, said Mauritz is both a world-class scientist and an influential educator.
“In a recent symposium in his honor, Prof. Mauritz’s former students came from afar and provided testimony of his knowledge, achievements and mentorship of students,” Wiggins said.
Moore noted that Mauritz’s accomplishments were a direct result of the “remarkable education” he received at UW Oshkosh.
“I was fortunate to have student-oriented professors in the physics department at UWO who took pride in teaching and made me work hard,” Mauritz said. “My professors at UWO taught me how to think. I was well-prepared for doctoral studies and professional activities.”
Chemistry grad turned patent lawyer
Turoski’s career combines a strong educational background in chemistry from UW Oshkosh with a degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.
He began his legal career by providing counseling on complex business issues at Foley & Lardner, an international law firm. He also served on the adjunct faculty at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
Today, he brings to his role as patent programs director at the University of Minnesota two decades of progressive, real-world experience, much of which he gained while serving in a series of executive-level positions at Cargill Inc.
As vice president of Cargill Animal Nutrition Technologies, Turoski led all intellectual property aspects of an acquisition of the company’s primary competitor. As secretary and counsel for Cargill subsidiary Format Solutions, he was responsible for a worldwide multi-million-dollar intellectual property and software licensing program. He also served as managing senior counsel at Cargill, leading a global team of lawyers and professionals.
“Chris Turoski is not only a good lawyer, but he’s also a good leader,” said Jennifer Henderson, group director of food safety, quality and regulatory affairs with Cargill. “He leads with courage, integrity and conviction.”
Turoski built a solid foundation for his career at UW Oshkosh through the chemistry department and his involvement in student government.
“My chemistry student colleagues and professors had the greatest impact on my career. They gave me the confidence and freedom to find a career path suited to my talents,” he said.
In nominating Turoski for the alumni award, UWO organic chemistry professor Linfeng Xie said, “As a professional, he achieved the filing, prosecuting and obtaining of hundreds of patent applications for his clients. His impact on the profession has been further expanded by teaching and mentoring students entering the field of law.”
Aside from his professional success, Turoski is most proud of his work with the Minnesota Epilepsy Foundation Inc.
“While serving as the organization’s general counsel and secretary, I helped to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures and save lives,” he said. “Specifically, I successfully defended the organization in a lawsuit directed to fundraising practices.”
The 2018 Alumni Awards Celebration will be held Friday, Oct. 19 at the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by the dinner and program beginning at 6 p.m. The cost of the event if $30 per person.
Look for more feature stories about UW Oshkosh’s 2018 award recipients throughout the summer and fall leading up to the celebration.
For more information, contact UWO’s Alumni Relations Office at (920) 424-3449 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.