Pharmacy Professor Receives UM Faculty Achievement Award

David Colby honored for success in teaching, research and mentoring

David Colby

OXFORD, Miss. – Becoming a professor was David Colby’s goal as a pharmacy student at the University of Iowa.

Serving as an associate professor of medicinal chemistry and director of academic affairs in biomolecular sciences at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, Colby’s excellence in teaching, scholarship and service was recognized, as he was named the 2020 recipient of the university’s Faculty Achievement Award.

“I was surprised and humbled that I received the award,” Colby said. “I enjoy being a professor because I get to interact with so many talented students, and I get to conduct research to discover new knowledge. The faculty in our pharmacy school are great to work with.”

Colby joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2014 and has been recognized in numerous ways, including the pharmacy school’s Faculty Service Award and being named a Distinguished Teaching Scholar. He also has been elected chair of the chemistry section of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Along with external grants from the National Institutes of Health, presentations at major universities and publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed scientific journals, Colby had one of the chemicals invented by his research group named after him. In 2020, he commercialized a chemical reagent that his laboratory designed at the School of Pharmacy with Sigma-Aldrich.

Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor, noted students’ praise of Colby in the virtual award presentation. Colby’s letters of recommendations had one student writing, “Dr. Colby has been instrumental in encouraging me to seek out opportunities that not only challenged me but directed my passions and career path.”

Another wrote that Colby’s mentorship helped the student fulfill a dream of being a nuclear pharmacist.

“David is very deserving of every recognition he receives,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “He has an inspiring way of connecting to the students, and his work and dedication to our school has been essential in so many ways.

“David played such a crucial role as we developed our new curriculum, and made significant impact with his research.”

It’s the third time in five years a pharmacy professor won the universitywide award. John Bentley, professor of pharmacy administration and director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management, earned the honor in 2016, and Kristie Willett, chair of biomolecular sciences and professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology, received it in 2017.

Colby makes the 13th Faculty Achievement Award winner with a full or joint appointment in the School of Pharmacy since the award was established in 1986.

“David is highly deserving of this recognition, as evidenced by his consistent exemplary commitment to our students’ achievement and his laboratory’s research achievements,” Willett said. “I rely on David’s experience and insight as part of the BMS leadership team. He is also a fantastic role model for our junior faculty in the department.”

Colby, along with professors around the world, faced one of the biggest challenges ever when COVID-19 disrupted the academic landscape. However, Colby’s passion for teaching his students did not waver.

“COVID-19 has not changed me, but it has changed my environment,” Colby said. “The biggest challenge that I face as a professor is encouraging my students during the pandemic. One of the most helpful books that comes to my mind is ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’

“And if someone with the last name ‘Colby’ recommends a book about cheese, you should read it.”