Carolyn Bertozzi, Department of Chemistry
 carolyn bertozzi
 Department of Chemistry Professor Carolyn Bertozzi. Peg Skorpinski photo.

Carolyn Bertozzi's teaching success stems from approaching a class as if it were a small laboratory group meeting - even when the associate professor of chemistry is lecturing to 600 students.

"Teaching is trying to convey information," she said, "and, when you're a scientist, that is what you do for a living - you make discoveries and then you teach them to the world." Students in Bertozzi's undergraduate and graduate organic chemistry classes say her enthusiasm is infectious.

"Her explanations were always crystal clear, making a difficult class a lot easier," said John Weedin, who took organic chemistry from Bertozzi last year and started working in her lab last summer. "She's very dynamic, very colorful."

You won't catch Bertozzi shunning traditional teaching aids, even as high-tech, multimedia teaching increasingly becomes part of her classroom. "It's going to be hard to pry me away from a piece of chalk and a blackboard," she said. "There is something very physical about it. When I'm lecturing with chalk on a board, it gets me revved up."

Her teaching style is particularly suited to organic chemistry, where students must grasp numerous concepts, chemical structures and chemical reactions.

"Organic chemistry is all about seeing things in space, and drawing pictures and drawing structures, envisioning how electrons are moving in space," she said. "It's very visual, and you have to write it down to learn it. Only then will you have an intuition about how chemical transformations occur."

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