Chemistry faculty participate in unique research and enrichment experiences

Nine chemistry faculty attended the 25th Annual Biennial Conference of Chemical Educators
Nine chemistry faculty attended the 25th Annual Biennial Conference of Chemical Educators (BCCE) at Notre Dame University. This meeting allows chemical educators to share their classroom successes, attend workshops which showcase alternative approaches to teaching, and provides networking opportunities

Radford University Department of Chemistry faculty members traveled the nation over the summer pursuing opportunities for research and professional enrichment.

Most of the department traveled to Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, for the Biennial Conference on Chemistry Education sponsored by the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. The conference is designed for middle school science teachers, secondary school chemistry teachers, graduate students and college chemistry faculty.

“The conference provides chemistry educators with opportunities for interacting with colleagues at all levels in formal and informal settings,” according to the event website. “Instructors who are new to chemistry education and those who have years of teaching experience will find this conference to be an excellent source of materials, techniques and chemistry content.”

This type of event allows for professional exploration with colleagues as well as new opportunities to network with professionals from around the nation. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the event.

Kristina Roth-Stefaniak, assistant professor of chemistry, participated in the Active Learning in Analytical Chemistry Workshop at Indiana University Bloomington funded through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program.

“At the workshop, 20 analytical and instrumental chemistry instructors from across the country met to discuss and model active learning activities,” said Roth-Stefaniak. “It was a very productive workshop where current Radford teaching practices were shared and future ideas were conceived.”

Radford University is seeing a direct benefit from her experience right away.

“As a result of this workshop, a Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience was developed and has been added to the analytical chemistry curriculum this semester,” Roth-Stefaniak said. “This project builds on the University’s goal for an inclusive and experiential learning environment for the students.”

The opportunity to work with Radford students utilizing some of the content of the workshop is intriguing for Roth-Stefaniak.

“I am very excited to begin and start working with my students on their projects,” she said. “One part of this project I am looking forward to is a poster symposium that will be held at the end of the semester, where students from different Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences in the Department of Chemistry and Biology will gather to show their research results and discuss their experiences. My hope is to get freshmen from both majors to attend and get a glimpse of experiences available in future courses.”

This experience speaks directly to the goals of the university’s REALISE (REALising Inclusive Science Excellence in Biology, Chemistry and Physics) program.

Tim Fuhrer, associate professor of chemistry, spent his summer in Colorado as a participant in the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Summer Faculty Fellowship Program (SFFP). It is a program designed to bring professors from outside of the Air Force and Naval Academies on site to do research that complements work being done by the professors at the academies.

Fuhrer’s research involves synthesizing fullerenes (pure carbon molecules) with fulvene. One of the primary uses of fullerenes is in solar cells, aligning Fuhrer’s work with that of a professor at the Air Force Academy in renewable energy sources.

“Not only did we make progress on the fullerene project that was the subject of my initial proposal, but I became involved with computational aspects of their fluoropolymer research and was able to give a poster presentation at the ACS Fluoropolymer Workshop in Denver this summer,” Fuhrer said.  “The connections I made at the Air Force Academy significantly expanded my research interests.”  

In addition to his research activity, Fuhrer took advantage of the beauty of the Colorado Mountains for frequent hikes and outdoor adventures.

Sep 17, 2018
David Horton
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