The teaching mission of a professor at a major research institution takes on many forms, such as instruction in a formal class setting and mentorship of future professionals (graduate/undergraduate students and post-doctoral associates). While both of these activities are equally important, I have devoted a large amount of my time toward graduate student mentorship as evidenced by the large research group I have sustained over a number of years (39 professional degrees granted). While I realize the importance of undergraduate training, both in the classroom and the research lab, I view graduate mentorship as a unique undertaking for a research professor. I have adopted a strategy to assist in the training of these students for competitively pursuing professional opportunities, whether in the private sector or academia, using a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach. My research group is organized into several teams, with each team focused on a particular project. For all of my projects, students are developing a particular component for the target application, with each student required to heavily interact and become familiar with activities of other members of the team. What is intriguing about this organizational structure is that they are not just interacting with their own research group members, but with students working in diverse disciplines whom are also integral parts of these teams.
To assist in forming effective collaborative efforts amongst students in a particular project team, we hold weekly team meetings. This has been an effective method for students to understand how their work fits into a large project and also, to learn how to interact with others in different disciplines and how to be a team player in multidisciplinary efforts. My feeling is that these experiences prepare them well for their post-graduate work. In addition, I have found that the students become more independent and seek out assistance not only from myself, but their peers and other professors. The post-doctoral associates I support are intimately involved in this activity as well. They typically organize these meetings and select the agenda with input from other team members. This creates an atmosphere of the team members "owning" the project and therefore, become more responsible towards its completion.
Recently, I have become innately aware of the importance of global research as well through my appointment as a World Class Scholar and adjunct professor in South Korea at Ulsan National Institutes of Science and Technology, UNIST. As a result, I have provided to my students unique opportunities to go abroad for sustained periods of time to carry out research. For example, as part of my appointment at UNIST, I have had my graduate students participating in research programs there. In addition, several of my students have received fellowships from NSF to participate in summer research in Korea. This has been a reciprocal arrangement, with students from Korea visiting my laboratories in the US. For example, in the summer of 2012, 3 South Korean students were in my lab and a professor as well.
I have also been involved in undergraduate research and not just through summer research programs, such as REU programs. Over my years at LSU and UNC, I have had many undergraduates whom have joined my research group as freshmen and have stayed within the group during their entire tenure at LSU (new ones at UNC have just started). Three of these students have/are participated in graduate programs in Chemistry (Christie Sayes, Rice University; Sarah Romero, Delaware University and Jason Brabham, Texas A&M University). These undergraduate students are integrated into the research teams outlined above and actively participate in team meetings and have the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed papers and present their work at national/international meetings.
In formal class settings, I have been involved with 11 different courses while at LSU and one at UNC (Biofluid Mechanics) both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Due to the number of different courses that I have been associated with, a large amount of effort was devoted to developing class notes and general restructuring of the course content. For example, CHEM 2001, the LSU sophomore-level quantitative analysis course, was a new course that was initiated in the fall of 1992. I assisted in developing the curriculum for this course and selecting the textbook. In the spring of 1994, a comprehensive separations class was formulated for graduate-level students. This course offers a complete overview of analytical chromatographic techniques and covers fundamental concepts, gas chromatography, liquid chromatography and specialty areas such as capillary electrophoresis, affinity chromatography and chiral separations. Again, I was intimately involved in developing the content for this course and I am still teaching this course on a regular basis. The new Biofluid Mechanics course at UNC was formulated by myself in the fall of 2012 and was retaught in the fall of 2013.
I have also been engaged in teaching in South Korea as well as part of my duties as a World Class University professor. For two semesters, I taught a class in Bioanalysis and did so from a biology, chemistry and engineering perspective. This was a necessity given that my appointment in Korea was in the Department of Nanobioscience and Chemical Engineering. In the spring of 2013, I taught an undergraduate class (66 students) focused on Biofluid Mechanics and a graduate class in Nanotechnology.
I have also initiated some Professional Development workshops on writing resumes, giving formal presentations and how to participate in an effective interview. I have prepared lectures in each of these areas and have continued to give these lectures at various times over the last 8 years. For example, I gave a formal seminar to the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry in 2013 on giving memorable technical presentations. I have also given professional development seminars at LSU, Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology in Korea and UNC as well.
Another passion I have generated is in the area of entrepreneurship and instructing students on the process of submitting disclosures, writing patents and forming startup companies. I hold informal lectures on the IP process and balancing academic with commercialization ventures. I also discuss with students writing business plans and how to give talks to potential investors as well.
During my first few years at LSU, my teaching duties were specifically oriented toward revamping much of the analytical laboratory courses, which had not experienced a change in over 15 years. My efforts were primarily directed toward both the quantitative analysis course (sophomore-level) and the senior instrumental analysis laboratory. In fact, most of my contributions to the LSU teaching program came from the restructuring of these laboratories. Not only did I design and troubleshoot new laboratories, but diligently sought out new instruments for these teaching laboratories in order to expose students to state-of-the-art analysis in analytical chemistry. Many times this meant going to local industry to secure appropriate equipment that could easily be assimilated into the laboratory.
My ratings in various classes have been consistently higher than the College and Department instructor average. My philosophy for upper level graduate courses is to present the student with a large amount of information due to the expected maturity level of the student and the extensive experience the student should have at this level of his/her career in education. I have also been diligently engaging these students in giving formal presentations by doing in-class talks on selected topical areas.