Teach the Mechanism is a platform for Joel Karty and organic chemistry educators to share their experiences and discuss the benefits of a mechanistically organized course. By inviting professors from a wide variety of schools to be guest bloggers, we accomplish an array of topics and unique perspectives. Please get to know Joel Karty and our guest bloggers below!
Joel Karty, Elon University
Joel Karty earned his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Puget Sound and his Ph.D. at Stanford University. He carried out postdoctoral work with Stephen Craig at Duke University, and began teaching at Elon University in the fall of 2001. At Elon, Joel teaches primarily organic chemistry and general chemistry, and also teaches physical chemistry. In the summers, he teaches an organic chemistry preparatory course as part of the SMDEP program sponsored by the Duke University School of Medicine. His research interests include studying the contributions by resonance and inductive effects in fundamental chemical systems, and he also investigates the mechanism for pattern formation in periodic precipitation reactions. Joel is the author of The Nuts and Bolts of Organic Chemistry (2005), which has recently gone into its second edition as Get Ready for Organic Chemistry (2011).
Guest Bloggers Include:
Adam Azman, Butler University
Adam Azman earned his B.S. in chemistry from Xavier University in 2005 and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. He was a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellow from 2008-2010, and a Future Faculty Fellow from 2009-2010. He has taught at Butler University since 2010 and primarily teaches organic chemistry. He is currently one of the co-faculty advisors to the Butler University Chemistry Club. He was the 2014-2015 Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year. His research interests are centered around the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Michelle Boucher, Utica College
Michelle Boucher is an Associate Professor at Utica College. She earned her B.S. in chemistry, B.A. in history, and Ph.D. in chemistry from Case Western Reserve University. She taught as a visiting professor for two years at Denison University before accepting a position at Utica College in 2005. Her research interests include the modification of silicate surfaces as reinforcement or alignment tools. Michelle is part of the pre-health advising committee and faculty advisor for Alpha Epsilon Delta. She is also active in the American Chemical Society, serving on the Undergraduate Programming Advisory Committee and the inChemistry Advisory Board and is student chapter co-advisor. Michelle has learned to embrace the challenges and freedom that being the only organic chemistry professor offers, and this is her second year teaching out of the Joel Karty’s text.
Rick Bunt, Middlebury College
Rick Bunt earned his B.A. in chemistry from Northwestern University and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Stanford University working with Barry Trost. He carried out postdoctoral work with Joanne Stubbe at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rick began teaching at Middlebury in the fall of 1998 and is currently the Burr Professor of Chemistry and the Natural Sciences. Rick teaches general and organic chemistry, advanced courses in organometallic and medicinal chemistry, and frequently a writing seminar titled “Science and Science Fiction.” His research interests involve the study of electronic effects in chiral ligand design.
Don Carpenetti, Craven Community College
Don Carpenetti earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.S. in Inorganic Chemistry from West Virginia University. He is currently a Chemistry Instructor at Craven Community College in New Bern, NC where he teaches general, organic and GOB chemistry courses. He has been recognized for outstanding teaching or service by West Virginia University, Marietta College, Craven Community College, The Craven Community College Foundation, The League for Innovation in the Community College, Vernier Technology Co., and The National Science Teachers Association.
Nancy E. Carpenter, University of Minnesota-Morris
Nancy E. Carpenter obtained her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University under the guidance of Professor Anthony G.M. Barrett. After a postdoctoral appointment with Professor Larry Overman at the University of California, Irvine, she came to the University of Minnesota, Morris, on the prairies of west-central Minnesota. Her research interests have spanned a diverse range of areas, from synthetic organometallic methodology to environmental remediation of chlorinated ethylenes and exploration of biodiesel from oilseeds and algae. She has been recognized with two teaching awards at the undergraduate level and was a co-recipient of the 2012 ACS-CEI Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education.
Brad Chamberlain, Luther College
Brad Chamberlain earned his B.A. in chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College and his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. He carried out postdoctoral work with Geoffrey Coates at Cornell University, and began teaching at Luther College in the fall of 2001. At Luther, Brad teaches primarily organic and general chemistry, as well as advanced courses in inorganic chemistry. His research interests include the synthesis of catalysts and monomers for the production of plant-based, biodegradable polymers. Brad is class-testing the Preliminary Edition of Joel Karty’s text in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.
Cliff Coss, Northern Arizona University
I am currently an Organic Chemistry lecturer at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. I teach first and second-semester Organic Chemistry, as well as the Advanced Organic Chemistry laboratory course required for our ACS Chemistry majors. I received my Ph.D. at the University of Arizona, where I synthesized a class of glycolipids for use in personal care, biodegradable cleaning supplies, and bioremediation. After obtaining a patent on our unique glycolipid synthesis technique, I co-founded a Tucson, AZ startup called GlycoSurf, where I served as CTO and lab technician for 1.5 years. Additionally, I helped create GREEN (a Green Chemistry organization at the University of Arizona) and a Green Chemistry educational non-profit called the Network for Early-Career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE).
Kimberley Cousins, California State University-San Bernardino
Kimberley earned her B.S. (chemistry) from Duke University and her Ph.D. (organic chemistry) at the University of Texas at Austin, supervised by Jack Gilbert. She then served as a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teaching/Research Fellow at Hendrix College with mentor Tom Goodwin. Kimberley, a professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department at CSU-San Bernardino, teaches primarily organic chemistry for biology majors/pre-health professions, and for chemistry/biochemistry majors. She has mentored more than 100 undergraduate, high school, and MS students in a variety of organic-related research areas, including green organic methodology and computational modeling of organic functional materials.
Nathan Duncan, Maryville College
Nathan Duncan is an assistant professor of chemistry at Maryville College in Maryville, TN. Prior to teaching at Maryville, he obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry at Baylor University studying the synthesis tridentate nitrogen ligands and the reaction conditions that affect the regioselectivity in the formation of nitrogen heterocycles. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in the Chemical Separations Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory studying the formation of three dimensional covalent frameworks as well the synthesis and analysis of a guanidine suppressor for use in the Caustic Side Solvent Extraction (CSSX) process for the removal of cesium from legacy nuclear waste. In addition to teaching organic chemistry, advanced organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and instrumental analysis, he teaches chemistry for non-science majors in the Maryville College Core Curriculum such as “The Chemistry of Fireworks” and “History According to the Periodic Table,” and elective courses in Brewing.
Todd Eckroat, Penn State Behrend
Todd Eckroat grew up in Erie, PA and obtained his undergraduate degrees, B.S. in chemistry and B.S. in biology, from Penn State Behrend in 2009. After deciding to pursue an academic career in chemistry, he began his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, earning his Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry in 2014 under the supervision of Sylvie Garneau-Tsodikova. Following a year of postdoctoral research in the Chemical Synthesis and Drug Discovery Facility at the University of Notre Dame, he honed his teaching skills in general and organic chemistry at Southwestern Michigan College and Ivy Tech Community College. Todd joined the faculty at his alma mater, Penn State Behrend, in 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. He currently teaches organic chemistry lectures and labs, as well as an upper-level biochemistry course. His research interests center around synthesis of natural product analogs and synthesis of heterocycles, with a focus on compounds that have potential activity against bacteria or acetylcholinesterase. In his free time, Todd enjoys Penn State Nittany Lions football and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, playing softball, cooking, and spending time with his wife and dog.
Dan Esterline, Thomas More University
Dr. Dan Esterline is the organic chemist at Thomas More University. He completed his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry in 1993 at Miami University working with Dr. Richard Taylor. He then taught at Heidelberg College for 15 years where he was the Chair of the Chemistry Department before taking his post at Thomas More University. Dan’s undergraduate research areas includes topics such as enzyme kinetic studies of egg lysozyme, synthesis of epothilone precursors, microwave synthetic organic reactions, isolation and reactions of carvone from caraway seeds and spearmint leaves, and electrophilic substitution of halogenated phenylsydnones. Dan’s interests include jogging, eating, weight-lifting, construction/renovation, farming with his father-in-law, as well as fishing and golfing with his father.
Grace Ferris, Lesley University
Grace Ferris is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches General Chemistry I & II, Organic Chemistry I & II, Introductory Biochemistry, and Life Chemistry: Drugs in Our Lives. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she also serves as the Pre-Health Advisor. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry with a minor in Education from Mount Holyoke College in 2008 and her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Boston College in 2013. Prior to joining the faculty at Lesley University in 2017, she was a visiting instructor at Wellesley College and a Preceptor at Harvard University. Her current research focuses on effective collaboration during group chemistry exams. In her free time, Grace enjoys spending time with her husband and son, cooking, and hiking.
Jennifer Griffith, Western Washington University
Jennifer Griffith earned her B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from Western Washington University. She earned her Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry from the University of British Columbia under the guidance of Dr. Martin Tanner. In the fall of 2014 Jennifer started teaching at Western Washington University, and she has been teaching general and organic chemistry ever since. This is Jennifer’s first year teaching organic chemistry from Joel Karty’s text.
Jing Hao, George Fox University
Jing Hao earned her B.S. in Pharmacy from Sichuan University in China. She then came to the U.S. and earned her Ph.D. degree in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Dallas under the supervision of Dr. Mihaela Stefan. She carried out postdoctoral work with Dr. Daniel Siegwart at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and began teaching at George Fox University in the fall of 2014. At George Fox, Jing teaches primarily organic and general chemistry. Her research interests include synthesis of novel degradable thermo-responsive polymers for biomedical applications.
Tara Kishbaugh, Eastern Mennonite University
Tara L.S. Kishbaugh obtained her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Wheaton College and her graduate degree in organic chemistry from Dartmouth College under the mentorship of Gordon W. Gribble. During graduate school, she spent a year teaching organic chemistry at St. Michael’s College. Afterwards, she was a Dreyfus postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth campus. She then moved to the Shenandoah Valley to teach a variety of courses, including organic, general, and environmental chemistry, as well as seminars on ethics, land use, and food chemistry, at Eastern Mennonite University. She chairs the biology and chemistry departments and has started a common reading program on campus. Her research interests include chemical education projects, such as assessing non-content learning in laboratory research projects, heterocyclic chemistry (indoles and pyridines), and water quality assessments related to bacterial contamination and hydrofracking.
Jamie Ludwig, Rider University
Jamie Ludwig obtained her B.A. in chemistry at Illinois Wesleyan University and her PhD at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Her doctoral research was on the discovery of new biocatalyzed transformations from marine-derived bacteria. She performed postdoctoral research in the lab of Dr. Jeff Johnson at UNC-Chapel Hill working on the development of a dynamic kinetic resolution through the use of biocatalysis. Jamie is currently an assistant professor at Rider University where she teaches Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. Her research is focused on the discovery of new, biocatalyzed transformations utilizing marine-derived microorganisms.
Rita Majerle, Hamline University
Rita Majerle obtained her PhD in organic synthesis under the watchful eye of Professor Thomas R. Hoye at the University of Minnesota. After a brief postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, Irvine, she headed back east to South Dakota State University. Rising through the ranks, her research work focused on dendrimer synthesis and behavior. In 2003 she joined the faculty at Hamline University where she is currently serving a department chair. When not balancing budgets and signing forms, Rita’s research includes synthesis and methodology of bioactive materials.
Jillian McCue, King’s College
Jillian McCue received her Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Susquehanna University in 2008. She continued her studies at the University of Connecticut where she worked under the supervision of Dr. Christian Brückner. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry from UCONN in 2013. At the University of Connecticut, her graduate thesis work focused on the synthesis and application of pyrrole-modified metalloporphyrins. After receiving her Ph.D., she accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at her alma matter, Susquehanna University, where she taught general chemistry. The following year, she became visiting assistant professor of chemistry, teaching organic chemistry. Jill is currently an assistant professor at King’s College where she teaches general and organic chemistry. Her current research interests involve design and synthesis of novel and reputable porphyrins and their metal complexes, and developing new methods of exploring the electronic structure of porphyrins. Specifically, understanding the structural factors that govern porphyrin and quadruplex DNA interactions.
Marie Melzer, Old Dominion University
Marie Melzer earned her B.S. in chemistry and B.A. in biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Georgetown University. She carried out her postdoctoral work at the Food and Drug Administration in their Office of Food Additive Safety. She began teaching at Old Dominion University (ODU) in the fall of 2009. At Old Dominion, Marie routinely teaches general chemistry, organic chemistry, and advanced inorganic chemistry. She also teaches a course for engineering students in preparation for the FE exam. Marie is currently the faculty advisor for the American Chemical Society Student Affiliates chapter at ODU, serves on the pre-health advising committee, and is an active member of Chemists Without Boarders. Her research interests include the design, synthesis, and development of transition metal complexes using ancillary organic ligands to probe enzyme activity using biomimetic chemistry and to develop homogenous catalysts.
Steve Pruett, Jefferson Community and Technical College (KY)
Steve Pruett earned his A.B. from Wabash College and his Ph.D. in chemistry and an M.A. in French from the University of Louisville. He is currently Professor of Chemistry at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY, where he teaches general chemistry and organic chemistry. He has also taught “Chemistry for Poets,” technical writing, elementary French, and the chemistry portion of the University of Louisville’s MCAT/DAT Training Conference. This is his first attempt at blogging.
Christine Pruis, Chemistry Subject Matter Expert, W. W. Norton
Christine Pruis graduated Summa Cum Laude from Valparaiso University with honors in Chemistry in 1999 where she completed undergraduate research on the mechanisms of enamine formation. Following a short stint at Pfizer she attended Northwestern University earning a PhD in Chemistry in 2004 synthesizing and studying mechanism-based inactivators in Richard B. Silverman’s medicinal chemistry laboratory. In the fall of 2004 Chris joined the teaching staff at Arizona State University. There she coordinated the organic chemistry laboratory sequence (~ 1000 students) and taught large enrollment ground and online lectures. Each semester she trained and mentored twenty to thirty undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants. While at ASU she concentrated on curriculum development with a focus on developing group activities, new teaching lab procedures, and online learning tools. She taught a hybrid organic chemistry course for three years where the tests and lab were in person but the lectures and alternative assessments were online. In 2012 she won ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding lecturer award. Christine was active in the Phoenix local section of the ACS serving as local section chair. In 2014 Chris left her job as Senior Lecturer and joined W. W. Norton full-time as the Chemistry Subject Matter Expert where she consults with chemistry instructors who use W. W. Norton chemistry textbooks. She also is involved in the development of Norton’s new digital learning tools and oversees authoring in those tools. Chris lives in Kalamazoo, MI where she is active in the ACS local section as communication chair. She spends her free time reading, walking her dog, and driving her kids to sporting events.
Andrew Robak, Keuka College
Dr. Andrew Robak is a Professor of Chemistry at Keuka College. His field is Organic Chemistry, with special interests in Polymer Chemistry as well as the interactions between Art and the Chemical Sciences. Dr. Robak attended undergraduate college at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and graduate school at the University of Oregon. He has been a full-time member of the Keuka College faculty since 2007. Besides his teaching responsibilities in Chemistry he teaches a general first-year seminar course, Science in Popular Culture and a Senior Seminar course for science majors. He is the College’s “pre-medical professions” advisor.
Heather Sklenicka, Rochester Community and Technical College
Dr. Heather Sklenicka (Dr. S to her students) graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, IA with a B.S. in Chemistry in 1998. She has no second major or minor because she only loves Chemistry. She continued on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in the lab of synthetic chemist Dr. Richard Hsung. After graduating, she began her journey at Rochester Community and Technical College. In her free time, she hangs out at the dance studio tapping and being a dance mom, plays Dungeons and Dragons, and teaches aerobics classes.
Corey Stilts, Elmira College
Corey Stilts obtained his BA in Chemistry and Biology at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. He then went on to receive his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at SUNY Buffalo under the guidance of Professor Michael R. Detty. He joined Elmira College in 2009 and is responsible for teaching Organic Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Introductory Chemistry and a non-majors chemistry course entitled, “The Chemistry of Cooking”. He also teaches travel courses in Alaska, Hawaii, and Ireland. His current research includes the use of Arduino microprocessors to facilitate organic reactions and their use as sensors.
Anne Szklarski, King’s College
Dr. Anne Szklarski earned her B.S. in Chemistry from The College of New Jersey and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, specializing in natural product total synthesis. She’s currently an Associate Professor at King’s College where she primarily teaches General and Organic Chemistry.
Kerri Shelton Taylor, Columbus State University (GA)
Dr. Kerri Shelton Taylor, assistant professor of Organic Chemistry at Columbus State University, obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from The University of Akron and MS in Chemistry from The University of Kentucky. She has a broad knowledge and varied skill set in the field of synthetic medicinal chemistry and material science. Her research projects involve the synthesis and characterization of new compounds with the application of medicinal chemistry, including anti-cancer and antimicrobial agents. This is her first attempt at blogging.
Anne Wilson, Butler University
Anne M. Wilson earned her B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D.from the University of Utah. She did post-doctoral research for Marie Krafft at Florida State University. In the fall 1996, she started at Butler University and has been primarily teaching organic chemistry ever since. She has performed undergraduate research in organic and inorganic small molecule synthesis and food chemistry, as well as teaching pedagogies and interdisciplinary education.
James Wollack, St. Catherine University
James Wollack earned his B.A. in chemistry from St. John’s University (MN) and his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota while working in the lab of Dr. Mark Distefano. He permanently began teaching at St. Catherine University in the fall of 2010. At St. Catherine, James routinely teaches organic chemistry, chemistry for the health sciences, and upper division chemical biology. James currently serves as the secretary of the Minnesota section of the American Chemical Society and chair of the Minnesota Young Chemists Committee. His research revolves around cell-penetrating peptides, green chemistry education, and developing non-natural enzyme substrates capable of copper-free click chemistry. James is class-testing the Preliminary Edition of Joel Karty’s text in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.
Laura Wysocki, Wabash College
Laura Wysocki earned her B.A. in Chemistry and the Integrated Science Program from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Wisconsin–Madison with Steve Burke. After her postdoctoral work with Luke Lavis at Howard Hughes Medical Institute–Janelia Research Campus, she came to Wabash College in 2011. Laura regularly teaches Organic Chemistry I and II and Advanced Topics in Organic Chemistry, in addition to Survey of Chemistry for non-majors and Enduring Questions, a discussion-based all-college course. She also serves as the Chair of the Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee. Her research interests include the synthesis of fluorogenic dyes for use as chemical sensors or enzyme substrates and the study of the open–closed equilibrium critical in the fluorescence of xanthene dyes.