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Todd Austell

Teaching Professor; Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies

    Kenan Laboratories C142
    919-962-9429
    tlaustell@unc.edu
    Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

General, Analytical, and Organic Chemistry Education, Curriculum Development, Academic advising

Professional Background

B.S. Chemistry, University of North Carolina, 1987; University of North Carolina, Ph.D., 1995; Assistant Professor, USAF Academy, 1997-1998; Visiting Lecturer, University of North Carolina, 1996-1997; Johnston Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2011; Class of 1996 Excellence In Advising Award, Presented April 2010; Academic Advising Program in the College of the Arts and Sciences and the General College of UNC-CH, 2010; National Academic Advising Association's Faculty Advisor Award, 2006; Johnston Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2004; Student Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2003; College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Advising Award, UNC-CH, 2002. Michel-Shaw Award for Undergraduate Advising, UNC-CH, 1999. Order of the Old Well, UNC-CH, 1993. Graduate Teaching Award, UNC-CH, 1990

Research Synopsis

The Undergraduate Chemistry Program at UNC-CH is among the largest and most productive in the nation. My role in this program is to provide an "intellectual spark" that might in some way enhance the environment for undergraduate education. This task is multifaceted and involves undergraduate instruction, curriculum development, academic advising, and the hiring/training/supervision of undergraduates as tutors and laboratory teaching assistants.

As an academic advisor for the chemistry majors, I'm intimately involved in providing both academic and career advice for our majors as well as in assisting them with course planning and registration. I also hold both private sessions and public presentations for students to assist them with the formulation of the effective study skills necessary to excel in the college science classroom. We continually explore new methods for more effectively disseminating important information to our undergraduate majors, assisting them both as they move toward graduation and as they seek employment or graduate opportunities once they move on from UNC-CH.

In the realm of curriculum development, I have previously been involved in the general chemistry laboratories and in the integration of computer assisted data collection into our lab curriculum. In the classroom I have developed and taught a first-year seminar which introduces students to the various aspects of nuclear chemistry for the past three years (2010-2013). In the classroom I am exploring various new methods for creating a "learner centered" educational environment in large lectures. This involves but is not limited to the use of various forms of multimedia instruction, in-class participation and assessment to create a more effective and dynamic "active learning" environment.

For the past four years, I've continued to evaluate and study the impact the math skills of our first-year students have on their performances in our general chemistry curriculum. Hopefully, some valuable data will come from this assessment which might allow us to better assist our incoming students in the identification and correction, through review, of any math skill deficiencies they may have. The development of an online tool for assessment and review that can be accessed prior to matriculation is a long-term goal.

Lastly, I am interested in and currently studying the growing applications for 3D printers and the 3D-design instruction utilizing them in STEM education at the college, secondary and pre-secondary educational levels.

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