BJS - Teaching and Mentoring

My teaching philosophy, with a core focus on student motivation, has evolved throughout my academic development: beginning with the chemistry tutoring program that I organized in college, developing as I designed and delivered chemistry lectures to freshmen at Stanford, and continuing in my day-to-day mentoring of undergraduates and graduate students as a postdoc. Through it all, I've identified my own strong desire to share information and maximize the potential of students I work with.  Two main tenets of my teaching philosophy are: 

  • Active learning and laboratory research are transformative experiences. In first hand laboratory experience, students discuss science on a daily basis with peers and generate novel discoveries of their own. Research enriches the student experience by developing problem solving skills, providing opportunities to interpret data and devise the next steps, and challenging them to present their work to an audience. These experiences provide both an ownership over the learning process, and skill sets that are applicable to any future career. 
  • We are responsible for developing the whole person and diversifying science. One pedagogical goal that resonated strongly in my own education is the philosophy of cura personalis, or care of the person. Recognizing unique and diverse student backgrounds requires a tailored approach to education rather than one-size-fits-all. I first appreciated this as a volunteer high school teacher, where the greatest breakthroughs were had with hands-on experiences, only then followed by definition and discussion. When I co-taught a pilot program for first-generation college STEM students, I drew from my own identity as a first-generation student to build a dialogue, recognizing challenges such as the first time leaving home. Education is a human endeavor, at its heart a sharing of information between people. Inter-personal connections and an enthusiasm for study are powerful tools to inspire students to learn. 

Teaching Experience


Research Mentor (2007 - present)

 Mentor for undergraduate and graduate students on project design, synthetic and analytical techniques, presentation skills, and scientific writing

Undergraduate trainees: Anna Overholts (Cornell, 2 years, covalent organic frameworks), Tillman Austin (REU at Cornell, 3 months, water purification), Nicky Hwang (Cornell, 1 year, covalent organic frameworks), Pedro Hernández Gallegos (Stanford, 4 years, catalyst immobilization), Annie Chantarojsiri (Stanford, 1 year, epoxidation catalysis), Wooje Cho (Stanford, 2 years, C-H hydroxylation catalysis)


Advanced Teaching Assistant, Leland Scholars Program, Stanford University (Summer 2012)

Along with Lecturer Jen Schwartz, I developed and co-taught the academic component of the pilot year of the Leland Scholars, a university-wide summer program at Stanford targeting incoming first-generation STEM students. Coursework focused on fundamental chemistry skills in a broader context of global issues, with an additional emphasis on student presentation skills and general preparation for college life. 


Advanced Outreach Teaching Assistant, Stanford University
Chemical Principles I (Fall 2008)

As the Outreach TA for general chemistry, I prepared biweekly lectures geared towards students having difficulty with scientific concepts and problem solving. In addition, we tested new tools such as in-classroom 'clicker' questions and an experimental web-based program for examining math proficiency.


Teaching Assistant, Stanford University

Inorganic Chemistry I (Winter 2010)
Organic Chemistry Laboratory I (Spring 2007)
Chemical Principles II (Winter 2007)
Chemical Principles I (Fall 2006)

Responsibilities included independently leading discussion and lab sections, exam and lab report grading, exam design, and Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) based teaching.


TA Training Leader, Stanford University (2007 & 2008)

One of eight fellow graduate students running the department’s three-day TA training program for incoming graduate students. The program focused on lecturing skills, teaching styles and laboratory classroom management. 


High School Science Teacher, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Philadelphia PA (2005  2006)

Independently developed and taught introductory physical science course to freshman high school students. The position was part of a highly selective volunteer alumni program.  

Career Development


Certificate, 2014, Innovative Approaches in Pedagogy. Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence

Workshop series on approaches to learning, pedagogical philosophies and methodologies  


Certificate, 2013 - 2014, Post Doctoral Leadership Program. Office of Postdoctoral Studies, Cornell University

Eleven module course on key concepts in skills of leadership including: planning and problem solving, group dynamics and team building, cultural fluency, conflict resolution


Workshop, 2014, Communicating Science, Run by The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, Stony Brook University

Two-day workshop focused on helping scientists more effectively communicate with the public, media, policymakers, and out of discipline scientists