Constance K. Barsky ’66

B.S., Denison University
Ph.D., Washington University

Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

Citation awarded June, 2006

Constance Barsky is an inspiration to every young girl who’s ever wanted to be a scientist. After majoring in chemistry at Denison, she became the first woman to earn a doctorate in geochemistry from the department of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

After stints at the University of Missouri and Granville’s Owens-Corning Technical Research Center, Constance became administrative manager for the department of chemistry at the Ohio State University in 1987. Six years later, she moved to the physics department as host-site administrator for Project Discovery, the Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) in Mathematics and Science Education, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the state of Ohio. When she took over as statewide SSI director, her purview included evaluations of program impact on teacher behavior and student achievement—work that laid the foundation for her current research.

In 1996, Constance began an inspired collaboration with physics professor and Nobel Laureate Kenneth G. Wilson. The two co-founded Learning by Redesign, an educational research organization established to initiate novel ideas on education reform. Their research, which focuses on stability and change in vital American institutions and integrates education, productivity, economic and socio-technological systems, is work that may well have implications for improving the success of education reforms. The Wilson-Barksy collaboration has received wide professional acclaim and has resulted in numerous publications and conference presentations.

In 2002, Constance was honored as a Dibner Fellow. The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, a consortium of Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, and Boston University, was established in 1992 as an international center for advanced research in the field. She investigated processes of change that could be a precursor to a classification scheme for episodes in science and technology that would ultimately permit the development of analogies to education.

Outside the professional realm, Constance is a dedicated volunteer for her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. In recognition of her work as co-advisor for the Denison chapter, she was named Ohio Province Chapter Advisor of the Year for 2000-01. She is also an active participant in the business of the Granville community and currently serves on the Village Council.

Her volunteer service to Denison includes serving as an alumni-nominated trustee 1988-94; board member of the Denison University Research Foundation 1989-present; consistent reunion volunteer, career advisor, Campaign and President’s Associates volunteer; and Alumni Council officer (president 1990-92, vice president 1988-90).