Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy has been influenced by 13 years of diverse teaching experiences at multiple institutions, over the course of which I have taught a wide range of material, including: all 3 levels of undergraduate physical chemistry offered at UC Irvine (quantum mechanics, kinetics/thermo/stat. mech., and applications in spectroscopy), graduate thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, computational chemistry, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. I have served as the math professor for the St. Thomas of Villanova Scholars (STOVS) program, a summer bridge program at Villanova University. Additionally, I have some less conventional teaching experience, such as working as a high school physics teacher, a guitar instructor, and even as host/writer/co-creator of an educational web series called Shredded Science, that has also contributed to the formation of my teaching philosophy. My teaching philosophy has not only been shaped by experience, but also by the formal training in practicing student-centered inclusive pedagogy that I received as a UC Irvine Pedagogical Fellow. The program consisted of a full year of graduate coursework in advanced pedagogy, as well as designing and leading training sessions for two incoming classes of chemistry graduate students, in preparation for their role as teaching assistants. The pedagogy courses were focused on the implementation of active learning models of education in the classroom, and building student-centered curricula around student learning outcomes.

I also use one of the skills I developed as a researcher, my ability to write computer code, to help bring some of the more mathematically rigorous concepts in physical chemistry to life using animations, Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), and creative data visualizations. For example, in order to demonstrate chemical systems favoring the most degenerate energetic states in statistical mechanics, I wrote code that simulates someone shaking a shoebox of coins repeatedly (video below). The students learn that the coins will favor the highest entropy configuration (half heads, half tails) with increasing certainty as the number of quarters in the box increases. This simulation can be used as a starting point for class conversation for introducing difficult concepts like entropy, under-sampling in molecular dynamics simulations, and even ergodicity!

For me, teaching is an interactive process of growth between the students and the professor, where it is my job to meet students where they are, and to create an environment where all of my students are given the opportunity to uncover for themselves, a deep and lasting comprehension of physical science that they can use to understand the world around them for the rest of their lives.

Courses Taught

I teach a variety of courses at San José State University, including: Chem-101 (Chemistry and the Computer), Chem-100W (a technical communication course for chemists), and Chem-160 (Physical Chemistry).