Research technician Anna Makar-Limanov ’20 talked about COVID-19 lab safety protocols—face coverings, cleaning, dedensification and more. For students, labs are available this semester only to those completing senior honors theses.
“It’s almost like parent-teacher night”
Event: “Chemistry: Building an Open and Inclusive Community in the Time of COVID-19.”
The work of Amherst chemistry professors is not only about elements and compounds. It’s also about the chemistry they create among students.
On Sunday afternoon, chemistry faculty shined a light on the latter. “We work really hard to build community,” said Associate Professor Sheila Jaswal.
COVID has sparked many methods of doing so. For example, the weekly “cheminar,” a Friday afternoon get-together for faculty and students, has gone virtual—and the silver lining of that is that alumni can now take part. At one session, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons ’85 (D-Del.), a former chemistry major, was a guest.
Professors Alberto Lopez and David Hansen ask two questions in every session of organic chemistry: What worked well for you, and what are you confused about? “We post videos in response to that second question during every lecture,” Lopez said.
Mark Marshall, the Class of 1959 Professor of Chemistry, records brief lectures for his introductory course. Then, on Zoom, “we come together, all 87 students plus three instructors and a TA, to say hello,” before moving into breakout rooms for partner work, and then returning to report out and ask questions.
Midway through the Homecoming and Family Week session, parents had the chance to try out the breakout rooms, to meet their children’s professors. “It’s almost like parent-teacher night,” said Patricia O’Hara, the Amanda and Lisa Cross Professor of Chemistry. It was also something else: yet another way to build and expand the community, to create more chemistry in a (for now) remote world.
— Emily Gold Boutilier