Jeff Aube is a comedian, motivator and award-winning researcher as well as a much-loved professor.
Jeff Aube told the students in his organic medicinal agents class that he didn't mind being the Susan Lucci of the HOPE Award.
But while the soap opera queen was repeatedly denied an Emmy, the third time was a charm for the frenetic and humor-filled associate professor of medicinal chemistry at Kansas University.
Cheered on by students and faculty associates, Aube received the 1994 HOPE Award Saturday on the Memorial Stadium field before the Kansas-Colorado game. Twice before, Aube had been a finalist for the Honor for the Outstanding Progressive Educator award, the only KU award for teaching excellence given exclusively by the students.
"I sound like a cliche from the Oscars, but it's an honor just to be nominated," Aube said. "It's especially nice to have been nominated by the students because they're the people that have to live with you."
Aube came to KU in 1986 after earning a doctorate from Duke University and a post-doctoral degree from Yale University. A love for research and the opportunity to "stick around young people" enticed him to become a professor.
"I kind of consider myself an average teacher because it's such a struggle," he said. "It takes a lot of energy to get the facts straight and spit them out right, much less being good at it."
The tug between research and teaching makes it even more difficult for a medicinal chemist to be a good professor, he said.
"I've got a pretty full plate," he said. "It's nice to be recognized for any part of it."
Aube has been recognized for many parts of it. In 1993, he received a national award for inventing a new way of synthesizing drug candidate molecules. Also in 1993, he received a Sloan Research Fellowship, a two-year research grant worth $15,000 a year.
"He has high expectations for his students, but he helps us meet those goals" said Renee Trewyn, a fourth-year pharmacy student from Lawrence. "He says, 'This is important stuff and it's hard and I'm going to help you learn it.'"
And he always has a joke, said Trewyn and another of Aube's students, Janell Tippitt.
"He always gets your attention with an icebreaker," Tippitt said. "A lot (of professors) come in cold and they leave cold."
Michael Doughty, a fellow medicinal chemistry professor, said Aube was more than a teacher.
"He's a motivator," said Doughty, who was also a finalist for the award. "And students respond to that. He makes them want to come to class."