CSI: Converse Co-Director Dr. Sheri Strickland
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
“My professional focus is organic chemistry. I am interested in a variety of topics including the building of biologically-active molecules, their detection using NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) spectroscopy, and the development of animations that more fully explain the mechanisms of organic reaction mechanisms.”
Collaboration with Students
“What I value most about my work at Converse is that I get to talk with my students about some of the most fascinating things in the world (molecules and chemical reactions) while I am helping them discover that diligence and perseverance really do show you how much you can accomplish.”
“Explaining Organic Chemistry Using Computer Graphics,” (with Dr. Peter Brown, Madonna King, and Antigone Childs)—This is the development of interactive computer animations to enable students to build mental pictures of 3-dimensional molecules and the fluid nature of reaction mechanisms.
“The Connection Between Textbook Annotations and Higher-Order Thinking Skills” (with Dr. Neval Erturk, Dr. Rich Keen, Chelsea Smith, Daniella Pena, and Antigone Childs)—This project investigates whether the writing of textbook annotations impacts higher-order thinking skills used in introductory-level courses in chemistry, biology, and psychology.
Upcoming Research Projects
“I’m interested in conducting organic reactions in more environmentally-friendly ways. Most organic reactions can be conducted on microscale, using about 50 mg of starting materials. Conducting organic reactions inside micelles, which will allow us to use water as a solvent instead of traditional (and often flammable and/or toxic) organic solvents, is another fascinating subject for me. I’m interested in synthesizing macromolecules that can self-assemble via intermolecular forces into nanotubes. I would also like to work on projects that involve the use of instruments to detect, identify, and quantify small quantities of chemicals such as illegal drugs and soil contaminants.”
Vision for Teaching
“The best education starts with internal motivation—a student has to want to learn. I am convinced that, past a point, motivation is everything! When a student “owns” her own education, I get to be the facilitator, the encourager, the advisor.”
Leading Students to Success
“The greatest pleasure is watching my students learn and grow and succeed, particularly the ones who weren’t so sure that they could, and then they got busy and did it! We work problems together, talk one-on-one during lab, and meet on Sunday afternoons in Sneakers. It’s amazing how much better students understand the applications of what they are learning when they work problems on the board! I remind them that the most important thing is to ‘keep moving forward’—to learn from your mistakes, pick up what you have, and move on!”
“I love our CSI forensics workshop! Five of our students from the workshop are now Converse students, and I hope that more will join us next year. It is amazing to have our high school students here and watch them not only learn chemical and biological techniques but also learn to work with and enjoy people whom they have never met before! I think that our students walk away with a much better understanding of how chemistry and biology can be applied to the solving of real problems.”