My teaching philosophy is to help students from any background to think individually, equip them with problem solving skills, and to apply these skills to real life situations. I want to inspire my students to aim higher, realize the value of hard work, be successful, have fun in the process, and give back to others.
What area do you teach?
Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry
BS Chemistry: Ateneo De Manila University, Philippines
MS/PhD(Physical Organic Chemistry): Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Your philosophy of teaching:
My teaching philosophy is to help students from any background to think individually,
equip them with problem solving skills, and to apply these skills to real life situations.
I want to inspire my students to aim higher, realize the value of hard work, be successful,
have fun in the process, and give back to others.
First and foremost, I want my students to learn the discipline of thinking independently. I want to train them to use their brain to grapple with difficult concepts for as long as necessary in order to comprehend and internalize them. Higher thinking requires deep and protracted exposure to the subject matter through observation, evaluation, questioning assumptions, making connections, formulating and testing hypotheses. This is the scientific method which I discuss in the first week of my lecture. Then in subsequent lectures, I discuss the contributions of various chemists who challenged the assumptions of the day with some key experiments to prove the structure of the atom as in the case of Rutherford with his gold foil experiment. Except for basic chemical nomenclature, I do not encourage memorization. I provide the basic equations as long as they understand how the equations were derived. For example, in explaining the Gas Laws, I take the time to explain the key experiments conducted to arrive at the relationships of pressure, volume, and temperature.
Second, I want my students to learn problem solving skills. At the beginning of the class when I introduce myself, I tell them that the best course I have ever taken was not from a school or university but from a company called DuPont where we were asked to take a problem solving class. What I learned from this valuable exercise is that the first step in problem solving is to define the problem. I also took away: the need to separate facts from conjectures and to be objective when formulating the hypothesis and subsequent solutions. I learned the power of team work. It starts with the attitude that everyone in the team is important, and can contribute no matter what their position in the hierarchy. I learned that finger pointing does not solve a problem. I teach my students that the first step in solving a problem is to find out what is given, specify the units of the given parameters, and identify what is being asked for. I encourage them to work as a team so they are never alone as they grapple with the difficult homework questions. In my laboratory, I assign teams and leaders in each team. I rotate the leadership so everyone is empowered to be a leader. At the end of each lab period, I reward the team that functioned well as a team, finished first, and produced accurate results. The reward is class recognition with applause, and the Gold Award.
Third, I train my students to cross train their brain from theory to application. I share my Alma matter’s motto “Science with Practice”. I tell them that the discipline of thinking and problem solving must be applied in real life. In the laboratory, the experiments are designed to reduce to practice what has been covered in the lecture.
Fourth, I want to inspire my students to aspire higher that what they think they can achieve, and realize the value of hard work. I share with my students a quote from the first black student who graduated from Iowa State University, my Alma matter:
“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” - George Washington Carver
I tell my students that my goal for the class is not just for my students to graduate, pay their student loan, or simply work for a laboratory. I challenge them to be leaders, innovators, inventors, managers, professors, and even Nobel Prize winners. At the beginning of each class, I ask my students to write a paper about an incident, an event, and endeavor that they participated in that made them feel successful and will remember the rest of their lives. I tell them to have the same mind set of can do attitude when they take my chemistry class. I share a quote from Roald Hoffman, the winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for chemistry:
“I like the idea that human beings can do anything they want to. They need to be trained sometimes. They need a teacher to awaken the intelligence within them. But to be a chemist requires no special talent, I’m glad to say. Anyone can do it, with hard work.”
Fifth, I tell my students that real success in life is measured not by what we receive but what we give back. I encourage my students especially those who earned a grade of A to volunteer as a tutor. I tell them of my annual trip to South East Asia talking to high school students how to be successful in their personal life and in their future careers.
Finally, for me as a teacher every chemistry class is a challenge, a lifelong journey to make chemistry relevant and fun in the lives of my students. I always ask myself, is there a better way to explain the concept so students can understand? I use funny stories and wisdom I learned in the corporate world of chemistry so they too can continue to learn. It requires of me to be patient, to use all the available learning tools, and to be sensitive to the needs of my students. Students need mentoring and coaching to be successful in life, and chemistry is an excellent tool to make this happen. I feel a bit of success when I receive a letter from a previous student:
“You are truly inspiring teacher and really care about all your students. I loved having you as my professor and really learned a lot from you. This was my 3rd semester taking chemistry and it wasn’t until now that I’ve been able to pass. Thank you for helping me succeed and follow my dreams. Have an amazing break”.
Why did you decide to teach?
I have been an instructor of lower division courses in chemistry, including lecture,
lab, and recitation sections at Southeast Missouri State University from 2012 to the
I have taught CH 181, CH 081, CH001 at the Sikeston, Kennett Malden regional campus and CH 181 AP Chemistry working with Dr. Rodgers, Director, AP Teacher Development. I have also taught CH 185, CH 085, CH 005 and CH 187 at the main campus.
I have received outstanding IDEA student evaluation ratings for the past 5 years. CH 187 (4.1-4.7, 2013-2016), CH 185 (3.8-4.6, 2012-2014).
I have consistently participated in all department and university activities ( department meetings, graduate student seminars, faculty development and student retention symposiums, CSTL Take Away Friday training, Show Me Days, and judging campus science competitions ), and worked well with the members of the faculty by volunteering to fill in to teach a class or proctor an exam. Please see comments below:
“I appreciate the way you have become part of the department. Thank you for being a good mentor to our students”. Dr. Bjorn Olson
“Thank you very much for representing the Department of Chemistry and participating in our 2013 Halloween Science as a room leader for the “Freeze Room”. Shannon McNew
I have supported international students (offered free Math and Chemistry tutoring at the Student Center and attended most of the international student on campus cultural activities) and participated in initiatives in diversity. Pleases see comments below:
“Thank you for your very kind gift and for all you do to our international students”. Priya Cramer, assistant director of International Students
“Thank you so much for being part of our diversity panel. We really appreciated your input and insights”. President’s Leadership Academy
I have thoroughly enjoyed the 5 years teaching experience at Southeast Missouri State University and would love to continue permanently in my present position.
Chemistry Instructor (fulltime) (2014-Present)
Southeast Missouri State University(Cape Girardeau, MO) Teaching CH 187, CH 181, AP Chemistry Chemistry Instructor (fulltime)
(2012-2013) Southeast Missouri State University(Cape Girardeau, MO) Teaching CH 18
Ph. D. Organic Chemistry, Iowa State University
Thesis: Photosynthesis of novel, unstable organic compounds. Synthesis of insect pheromones
Adviser: Dr. Orville Chapman • M.S. Physical-Organic Chemistry, Iowa State University
Mass spectral studies
Organization with which you are involved
GNCC-Team Jesus: Founding member. A mission team that goes to the Philippines and other asian countries to share Jesus with high school students.
Most Recent/Notable Published Work
Chemistry 187 OER
Best advice for students
"If you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, the world will knock at your door"