Retiring faculty legacies set stage for ChemEd colleagues

By Tatum Lyles Flick
Marketing & Communications Manager

For many years, the Department of Chemistry at UW–Madison has been a key place for Chemistry Education, with teaching, outreach, and dissemination of Chemistry Education materials second to none.

In 2021, two chemists who changed the face of Chemistry Education, Prof. John Moore and Prof. Bassam Shakhashiri, retired, leaving the program to two newer faculty members, Prof. Ryan Stowe and Prof. Sam Pazicni.

Headshots of Prof. Stowe and Prod. Pazicni

“When I was being recruited, every interaction I had with staff and faculty in our Department made it clear that chemists at UW–Madison care deeply about creating meaningful spaces for students to engage in doing chemistry,” Stowe said, adding that Department members were clearly passionate about Chemistry Education.

The field has changed a lot since Moore and Shakhashiri started working to engage and inspire students, but what drives them and the new professors remains the same.

“Teaching is a human experience,” Pazicni explained. “It’s about the interactions you have with others and the inspiration that you can provide in others to learn our discipline and learn how it affects our world and our society.”

Since joining the Department, Stowe and Pazicni have learned a lot from their mentors, Shakhashiri and Moore, and forged key relationships with Department instructors.

“You just have to look around to Bassam’s amazing contributions to workshops, to lectures across the world to understand how many lives he has touched by his demonstration shows and his passion, not only for chemistry, but to inspire others,” Pazicni said. “I hope I never forget that – that teaching is about that as much as it is about the science of learning.”

Moore has also been a champion of outreach, offer- ing access to practical information and demonstrations to help teachers and leading a summer program that in- spired children to be excited about chemistry.

“John is passionate about free access to high quality educational materials and has dedicated substantial effort toward creation of interactive, Open Educational Resources (some of which are used at UW–Madison),” Stowe explained.

Read the full Q&As with Stowe and Pazicni and learn more about their work.