Chemistry graduate students recognized as outstanding teaching assistants
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Five graduate students in the Department of Chemistry have been awarded the 2012 Outstanding Teaching Award. These awards are conferred annually by the UGA Center for Teaching and Learning. The recipients, (left-to-right in photo) Daniel Sexton, Matthew Davidson, Timothy Pope, Robert Gilliard and Christopher Nealon, are recognized for their outstanding contributions to instruction by students serving as teaching assistants in the classroom or laboratory.
Robert Gilliard and Christopher Nealon were nominated because they exemplify the best qualities of organic chemistry teaching assistants. Both have been dependable teachers, graders and proctors for their time at UGA. They have been recognized as head TAs for the majority of their tenure in the chemistry department. They are exceedingly knowledgeable of both theoretical and experimental organic chemistry and they bring that expertise to bear in their weekly interactions with their students. They are dedicated to giving their students the best possible laboratory experience/education during their time in the department. Both Chris and Robert have high expectations of their students and do not accept low quality work/reasoning in their weekly laboratory assignments. They are tough, but fair, graders and their students understand and respect this as it always benefits them in the end. Their students routinely perform at the highest levels on the cumulative laboratory final exam each semester.
Matthew Davidson, Tim Pope and Daniel Sexton were nominated for their efforts “above and beyond the call of duty” in developing a successful, widely accessed blog for their general chemistry laboratory sections. In the fall of 2011, these students, along with a fourth student, Darrah Johnson-McDaniel (a first year graduate student, and not eligible for the award), approached their PhD thesis advisor, Dr. Tina Salguero, assistant professor of chemistry, with an idea to develop and maintain a blog to engage general chemistry students in their laboratory sections and augment their learning experience. “I told them to go ahead with it”, Dr. Salguero relates, “and I was extremely impressed with the results!” The blog (http://genchemlabs.blogspot.com) is comprised of short essays composed by Matthew, Timothy, Daniel and Darrah that offer plenty of helpful advice (topics include “What glassware should you use?” and “How to please the gods of significant figures and units”), doses of wisdom (“Also, and this is very important, you should take the mass of your remaining amount of metal after EACH addition you make to the acid”), and additional explanations of chemical principles (“Le Chatelier’s principle is, in its most basic form, a description of how chemical systems in equilibrium react to stresses placed on said equilibrium”). “I am impressed by their interest in helping their undergraduate students have a better educational experience, as well as the creativity and teamwork of their effort”, said Salguero. The blog became very popular with the undergraduates in the 12 laboratory sections taught by these students. It was viewed more than 3000 times between August and December of 2011. Another faculty member in the Department of Chemistry remarked, “They have invented a much better version of eLC, and probably one that their students will look up. Good for them.”
The Department of Chemistry is very proud of all of its teaching assistants and their dedication to assisting in the critical teaching mission of the department.