IMPORTANT: Beloit College testing its emergency alert system today, Wednesday, January 28 (Read more.)
Class of 1999
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Few people know Beloit from the perspective of both student and teacher. Having held both those roles, Kevin Braun can say a lot about what makes a Beloit education unique. “We focus on being engaged,” the alumnus-turned-chemistry professor says. “We say, ‘You’ve read the textbook. Now, what does it mean? How can you apply it to this problem?” The kind of student who thrives at Beloit, he says, is “not someone who wants to sit in class and take notes to regurgitate on a test. Rather, it’s someone who’s going to think, ‘How can I apply it in the world?”
Applying concepts to real-world issues, Kevin says, helps ideas resonate with science majors and non-majors alike. His general chemistry course, for example, introduces the subject through a topic important to everyone: climate change. “I could lecture about gas laws and students could memorize a bunch of equations,” he says. “Instead, we ask, ‘Why are gas laws important?’ The only way we can solve global warming is to understand the science behind it. To understand that, you need to know gas laws.”
Beloit’s multi-disciplinary, hands-on opportunities are what drew Kevin to teach at his alma mater, and drew him here in the first place. As an undergraduate, Kevin was able to double-major in chemistry and anthropology, play varsity basketball, and conduct independent research.
That preparation led Kevin to exciting opportunities at the University of Arizona, where he worked in the up-and-coming field of multiphoton lithography; his research has been lauded by several scientific journals and the German publication Die Zeit.
Kevin followed his Ph.D. with a position at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. There, he contributed to the Human Genome Project, finding cost-effective ways to sequence DNA. These experiences opened doors to commercial and academic work, but Kevin decided “a teaching job at Beloit sounded too good to pass up.”