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Inspired by Female Role Models, Julianne Hall Puts Her Stamp on Chemistry Education

Inspired by Female Role Models, Julianne Hall Puts Her Stamp on Chemistry Education

April 22, 2024 | Dave DeFusco

As the pedagogy coordinator of undergraduate instruction, Julianne Hall finds herself in a pivotal position to influence chemistry education at UNC-Chapel Hill. She’s responsible for standardizing course curricula, supporting faculty and teaching assistants in delivering highly structured active learning instruction and making chemistry more accessible and inclusive for all students.

While her journey in the field of chemistry education is a testament to her passion for the subject and her commitment to nurturing young minds, it might not have been as rewarding had she not encountered numerous female role models who inspired her, both in science and in life. From her grade school and high school teachers to college professors and to her own mother, who ran a large construction company for many years and is now the vice president and head of accounting at a wind energy company, Julianne has been surrounded by strong women who not only encouraged her love for problem-solving but instilled in her the belief that she has, as she put it, a place at the table.

“I’ve felt included and was able to be successful because I had a lot of female role models in my life growing up,” said Hall, who is a recipient of the Chemistry Fred Young Extra Mile Award. “If our students are able to see learning assistants who look like them and that they can connect with in a leadership role, that can give students that same sense of belonging.”

The annual departmental award recognizes individuals for nurturing a positive environment, demonstrating crisis leadership, embracing collaborative problem-solving, introducing new ideas and encouraging team-thinking. It is given in memory of Fred Young who exemplified these characteristics during his tenure in the Department of Chemistry.

One of her admiring colleagues gushed about her contributions to the department: “Julianne has been a rockstar in her role here in the department. She helps the teaching faculty with all the logistical parts of their administrative tasks. She helps streamline things and communicates with the student services office frequently to ensure that we are all on the same page. She’s very friendly and always has a smile on her face.” Another co-worker said of her: “Julianne has been a trailblazer to identify areas of need and how to address these needs. She has been a great addition to our teaching team!”

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill, Julianne pursued a master’s degree in teaching at Duke and then embarked on a career as a high school chemistry teacher at Durham School of the Arts where she took ownership of the curriculum and fostered in her students a love of learning for six years. However, when she learned that she was pregnant with her son, Julianne sought out her current position at UNC that would allow her to make a broader impact on chemistry education while having the flexibility to raise a family. It’ll be two years in August that she joined the Chemistry Department.

“My time as a UNC undergraduate was awesome,” she said. “I love it here and it’s really exciting to be back. UNC is a big family that I think everyone takes a lot of pride in. I’m really proud to be part of this community.”

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