Q: How is creativity important to your work as professor?
A: All scientists are artists in my opinion. Every experiment we perform requires inventive thinking and often the implementation of some elegant techniques to find the answer to our question. This holds true in teaching chemistry at the university level. I am constantly dreaming up new and creative ways to connect scientific material to art, cinema or music. Describing the complex chemical reactions that take place in the cell is similar to describing how an orchestra works. I continuously strive to generate new and creative ways of improving teaching and learning.
Q: What gets your creative juices flowing?
A: I am always motivated by my students. Nothing fascinates me more than to see students “get it” and watch the light bulbs go on. When that happens, and it’s not every day, it’s difficult to contain the adrenaline high. When I leave a class and what started as an idea on paper becomes permanent knowledge in my students’ brains — that fuels my enthusiasm to create anew.
Q: What’s your biggest “fail?” How and what did you learn from that experience?
A: My biggest fail came early in my teaching career when I failed to implement some of my new and very creative ways of teaching out of fear. I was afraid students would not learn, I would be branded as too “outside the box,” and my career would end quite abruptly. What I learned was the worst idea is the one you never try. I decided to take a leap of faith, to dream big and let the chips fall where they may. To my great surprise, only good came from that leap of faith and I no longer fear failure.
Brian P. Hogan
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry
Published in the Spring 2016 issue | Features
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