What Will Organic Chemistry Look Like in Fall 2021?

In Fall 2021, students will be asked to return to in-person learning. After a lonely and stressful year, I am thrilled about this. I have missed my students dearly, as I love interacting with them in the classroom. Undeniably, the pandemic became especially hard on students’ learning by separating them from their peers and instructors, … Continue reading What Will Organic Chemistry Look Like in Fall 2021?

Building Students’ Organic Chemistry Toolbox to Set Them Up for Exam Success

We have now approached Exam 3, which means that students have been exposed to material that includes Chapter 19 content. I am quite excited to see that my students are starting to build their “organic chemistry toolbox,” but I've also noticed that they are starting to confuse how and when reagents are used. While I … Continue reading Building Students’ Organic Chemistry Toolbox to Set Them Up for Exam Success

MO Theory and Its Relation to Molecular Stability

Molecular orbital theory (MO theory) can be a very challenging topic. Students come into the classroom already knowing about the octet rule, Hund’s rule, and the Pauli exclusion principle. However, the lecture component is critical for bridging the gap between their knowledge of general chemistry and organic chemistry. As such, I start my lecture on … Continue reading MO Theory and Its Relation to Molecular Stability

Forward vs. Backward: How Do You Get Students Interested in Retrosynthesis?

In today’s class, I spoke about the value of retrosynthesis, which allows chemists to view mechanisms and organic reactions from their products to their starting material. Typically, students are not keen on retrosynthesis because: 1). the word is scary, and students are introduced to many other difficult-sounding concepts while learning it, and 2). the process … Continue reading Forward vs. Backward: How Do You Get Students Interested in Retrosynthesis?

Everything Is Connected: Teaching Organic Chemistry as a Unified Story through Mechanisms

When teaching mechanisms, I try to impress upon my students that the concepts tied to mechanisms are not confined to the chapters that they appear in within the Karty text, but rather, that they are a continuation of connected topics across the discipline as a whole. Today’s class focused on Sections 13.1-13.3, which elaborate on … Continue reading Everything Is Connected: Teaching Organic Chemistry as a Unified Story through Mechanisms

Asking Better Questions: When Students Become the Teacher

As teachers, we are expected to be the experts in our subjects. But the act of learning itself is a constantly evolving process, which is why I find it refreshing when my students ask smart questions and suggest alternative perspectives to keep me on my toes in class. We have recently transitioned from the electrophilic … Continue reading Asking Better Questions: When Students Become the Teacher

Essays in Organic Chemistry

The year is 2020. I have spent the majority of the year at home with my two kids managing Zoom meetings and PPE-clad trips to the (wastelands to scavenge for toilet paper) grocery store. An idea forms: what if I gave my organic chemistry students essay assignments? While writing in the sciences is nothing unusual, … Continue reading Essays in Organic Chemistry

What If Every Student Went to Office Hours?

Imagine a world where all of your organic students read their textbooks thoroughly, ask you questions, and come to office hours every week...the wildest of fantasy worlds, right? Well, I’m an optimist—what can I say? So when forced to create an all-online version of my mechanisms-focused organic chemistry course, I thought I would see how … Continue reading What If Every Student Went to Office Hours?

If I Could Turn Back Time

As a teacher, I try to remember what organic chemistry was like for me as a student. I know that to be effective instructors, we need to be able to see topics through our students’ eyes. After five years in academia, my list of main organic chemistry takeaways has grown to the following five points: … Continue reading If I Could Turn Back Time

Success Means That You Put Your Pen to Paper

Oftentimes in class, professors are asked,  “What can I do to do better in class? Could you offer more practice?” To help answer this question, I was given some great advice by my senior colleague: if you aren’t putting your pen to paper, then you likely aren’t studying organic chemistry sufficiently.  During my current semester … Continue reading Success Means That You Put Your Pen to Paper