Class of 1996
Give a brief description of your work. What do you find most interesting about it? What would you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?
I am currently employed as an Assistant Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at McMurry University in Abilene, TX. McMurry is a small private liberal arts school so my duties are focused on teaching undergraduate students in general chemistry and other courses. I do get to do some research during the summers. The most interesting thing about a career in academics is the constant turnover in students and how they affect the atmosphere in the classroom. Every student has a unique personality and background to get to know and each one learns chemistry in a different way. When students gain a sense of accomplishment after taking one of my classes, I feel that I have achieved some measure of success.
What did you need to do after graduating from St. Thomas to prepare you for your career?
After graduating in 1996 from St. Thomas with an ACS-certified chemistry major, I received a doctorate in chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002. Although not absolutely necessary when pursuing an academic career, I spent four years at Furman University and Kent State as a visiting professor and postdoctoral fellow, respectively, to sharpen my teaching and research skills. The extra experience I gained at these institutions has helped me immensely in my current tenure-track job.
What parts of your St. Thomas education do you look back on as most helpful in preparing you for your career?
I could have learned the chemical knowledge I possess from any institution; however the most important part of my St. Thomas education was the excellent example provided by the professors I encountered. They showed enthusiasm for lifelong learning and a passion for teaching. The interest they showed in me and my fellow students at St. Thomas is an excellent model for me to try to live up to as a professor at McMurry. Their dedication becomes all the more evident as I follow down the same career path.
Another excellent means of preparation for a career in teaching was the many late night group study sessions I had with my fellow classmates. (These were particularly necessary to tackle the weekly problem sets assigned by a certain professor in physical chemistry!) Being able to understand the material was the main goal at the time, but the process of trying to convey the underlying concepts to other people was the real lasting benefit. My classmates provided encouragement when I expressed an interest in teaching and helped me get to where I am today.