Visiting Professor of Chemistry
Office: Room 417, Sanger Center for the Sciences
Professor Emeritus of Chemistry
I work at the intersection of chemistry and physics. I majored in both as an undergraduate before choosing chemistry for my PhD at Caltech. Teaching was my long-term goal; in high school I taught boating for the Red Cross at a summer camp. Every day was a challenge; I had to adapt my teaching to each camper’s distinct skill set and experience. I found that exhilarating, and finding a way to reach each student remains exhilarating today. The opportunity to continue to teach led me to return to Beloit to fill in for a colleague on sabbatical, even though I had officially retired the year before.
If teaching has been a long-time passion, the same is true of research. Beloit College gave me the freedom to teach what is important to me, while its proximity to the University of Wisconsin-Madison gave me access to additional research opportunities. My collaboration with UW’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center is now some 35+ years old. I’ve also collaborated for many years on research projects at Lund University in Sweden, most recently in spring 2023, and spent the fall 2021 semester at the University of California at Berkeley working with MOFs (Metallic Organic Frameworks). Come to my office in the Center for the Sciences to see some molecular models I made using 3D printers. If you’re curious, you can read the titles of my ninety-nine peer-reviewed publications here.
As a teacher and researcher, I find Beloit’s students highly capable. They have what it takes to go to graduate school or apply their knowledge in medicine or industry. Beloit’s approach to teaching is designed to maximize student learning. I believe lab work is essential for learning chemistry so my courses feature hands-on science over lecturing. With this background many Beloit students join me or other Beloit faculty or other university research labs as early as the summer between their sophomore and junior years.
I like making stuff, be it chemicals or glass, computer programs or videos, or electronics. Scientists should not settle for the way things are but work to improve them. In my scientific glassblowing course students not only learn how to make and fix things, but to redesign them. Since molten glass is hot, a goal of the course is to develop patience.
Beyond teaching and research and involvement with friends and family, I find community by singing in choirs. When in Beloit, I’m a member of Beloit College’s Community Choir. Choir members are local residents as well as Beloit students. We learn from each other in a multi-generational setting. I also sing with my church choir and with the Rockford Choral Union for their annual production of Handel’s Messiah. When I lived overseas in Scotland and Sweden, I joined choirs there as well. It helped me feel more at home, connect with local residents, and work on pronunciation.