As one of the resident physical chemists, my teaching includes second-semester first-year chemistry (Chem 126) and physical chemistry (Chem 371). I have also been fortunate enough to teach biophysical chemistry (Chem 391) in the spring during even-numbered years to a small group of juniors and seniors. A real treat for me is observing how my Chem 126 students have matured scientifically by the time they reach physical chemistry.

I am less concerned with what my physical chemistry students recall from earlier chemistry courses (that is why we keep our old textbooks, right?) as I am with how their problem solving and critical thinking skills have been challenged and shaped during their time at St. Olaf College. Removing student trepidation in physical chemistry is a worthwhile challenge, whether through demonstrations, relevant applications, or just injecting a little humor in the subject. I am after all just a big kid that happens to have a really cool chemistry set! I take extreme pride involving students in my research interests and immense satisfaction working with them in the laboratory. My students and I work together to investigate the role naturally-occurring organic molecules have on the hydration and stability of nucleic acids. Students working with me learn a variety of techniques to thermodynamically characterize nucleic acids in aqueous solutions. To compliment our experimental techniques, we rely on molecular dynamics simulations to provide a molecular interpretation of our experimental work. Because my research project is an interdisciplinary endeavor, I draw student researchers from chemistry, biology, and physics. My research involves other faculty in chemistry as well. Students who work with me form a cadre of students at St. Olaf College that are trained to address nucleic acid and protein folding with a quantitative, biophysical mindset.

My service in the Chemistry Department and to the College has allowed me to forge friendships with faculty in disciplines other than science and mathematics. Our work together has allowed us to make St. Olaf an exciting place for students to learn and faculty to work.

My free time is spent with my family. I coach my daughter and son’s athletic teams and spend time with my two kids learning martial arts. We all enjoy time outdoors playing ball, fishing, and building snow and tree forts.