Chemistry and Biochemistry
I grew up in Northwestern Wisconsin and in 2008 I obtained my B.S. in Comprehensive Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire where I discovered my passion for chemistry and had the opportunity to do research in Dr. Jim Boulter’s lab. Through this experience I was able to attend a national chemistry conference and I was hooked! I obtained my Ph.D. in Chemistry at The University of Iowa under the mentorship of Dr. Amanda Haes. I realized that I loved being in the classroom while I was a teaching assistant and after completing my degree in 2014 I worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at The University of Iowa and at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. In the Fall of 2020, I returned to my alma mater to serve as the General Chemistry Coordinator and to teach general chemistry (my favorite!). I married my college sweetheart on the UWEC campus (he is also an alum!) in 2007 and we live outside of the Twin Cities with our dog, Delta. While not teaching I like to fish, garden, and crochet/knit.
TEACHING AND LEARNING PHILOSOPHY
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This quote effectively summarizes my student-focused philosophy of teaching. Every lecture consists of lots of practice, many opportunities for students to share their results or thought process with their peers, and self-reflection check-ins. After completing in-class guided learning activities students are often asked to reflect on their learning process. I strive to involve students in as many ways as possible in classroom work to connect with as many students as possible. Activities and course materials are transparently designed to support all learning levels and to achieve student “buy-in.” I have found that transparently designed materials helps me articulate my expectations, reduces barriers to learning, and provides me with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the assessment or activity.
Moreover, I believe that it is my responsibility to create and foster a welcoming environment in the classroom and laboratory where students are comfortable and feel empowered to learn. I know from personal experience that a student will not ask questions or participate if they feel that their opinions don’t matter or if they feel judged/ridiculed if incorrect. Each lecture class is opened with pictures of student’s pets that are shared to increase a sense of belonging and comradery. Additionally, I use any opportunity provided to model mistakes as learning opportunities. In the laboratory I like to take advantage of the relatively small class sizes to interact with students in small groups or one-on-one and routinely check in with how the students are feeling about the material. My hope and goal is that at the end of the course students can apply the concepts they learn and feel confident in their ability to do so.
I believe each day in the classroom or laboratory is an opportunity to try new ways of explaining a particular topic or practice a different problem solving skill. While some of these experiments work better than others and it is important to always reflect and ask for input from students. Learning chemistry can be challenging but I believe that having students be involved in the process is the key to success!