Bond, Valence Bond

I’m on sabbatical from Aug 2011 (“today”) until Aug 2012. So what does a prof do while he’s on sabbatical? I’ve done a lot of things in the past, but this sabbatical is going to be devoted to teaching chemistry + molecular modeling. Project ideas are still taking shape, but here’s a list that I’m currently fooling around with.

  • Organic chemistry (Chem 201) – develop a syllabus that is independent of all current textbooks and incorporates molecular models (particularly electrostatic potential maps)
  • Organic chemistry (Chem 201) – develop learning units that tell students my learning objectives and how to ‘get there’ (I’ve used these before in connection with a modified Keller Plan)
  • Organic chemistry (Chem 201) – develop POGIL learning activities (and incorporate molecular models, particularly electrostatic potential maps)
  • Write a book, maybe two books
    • An introduction to molecular modeling. Something that gets you started quickly and persuades you that making a plausibly useful model is never hard, always easy. Readers who want to dig deeper into computational algorithms and cutting edge computational strategies for research will need to look elsewhere (and there are plenty of good books out there for this kind of thing).
    • Stories about chemistry told through the ‘eye’ of an electrostatic potential map. Mainly organic chemistry, but perhaps some organometallics and inorganic thrown in too?
  • Explore the wonderful wacky world of iPads
    • Design apps
  • Learn more about valence bond models and how they can be exploited in chemical education. Drs. Sason Shaik and Philippe Hiberty have done chemists a huge favor by dusting off these models and applying them to all kinds of problems. Unfortunately, there is still a gap between the language they use and the language that your typical bench chemist or chemistry teacher can understand. Perhaps I can close the gap?
  • Investigate Fe-O chemistry using computational models. I’m not the first computational chemist to look into iron-catalyzed oxidation chemistry, but most of the studies I have seen have left out something that I think is really interesting: the relationship between (iron) catalyst structure and the energetics of the oxidation chemistry. Structure-reactivity relationships need to be understood if one wants to design really effective ‘green oxidants’. Look out Fe-TAML cuz here I come!
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