ROCK HILL, S.C. – Aaron Hartel, an associate professor of chemistry who is credited with increasing the rigor of the organic chemistry program, will receive Winthrop University’s top teaching award at the Dec. 14 undergraduate commencement.
President Jayne Marie (Jamie) Comstock, presiding at her first commencement, will give Hartel the 2013 James Pinckney Kinard and Lee Wicker Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching during the 11 a.m. ceremony at the Winthrop Coliseum.
The Kinard Award is presented annually to the faculty member who has demonstrated a dedication to teaching and is highly regarded on campus by faculty and students. Established by the Kinard family, it honors former Winthrop President James P. Kinard and his wife, Lee Wicker Kinard.
Since Hartel joined the Winthrop Department of Chemistry, Physics, and Geology in 2004, he has emphasized the highest professional standards, mentored undergraduate students in their research and reinvigorated the organic chemistry program.
At the same time, Hartel has given students the time and resources to master what is widely considered to be the most important and difficult course in science for individuals with professional aspirations. He firmly believes students will rise to the levels to which they are challenged, which is evidenced by the significant increase of Winthrop graduates who are now accepted and matriculate into medical, dental, and pharmacy schools.
Hartel’s creativity in the classroom enhances his teaching success. He transitioned his students from a traditional organic chemistry textbook to his own original instructional materials. He developed a recent lab to teach students how to make oil of wintergreen from aspirin in two very simple steps – a hands-on demonstration showing the power, beauty, and simplicity of organic chemistry.
He has since published a paper on this in “The Journal of Chemical Education,” the world’s most prestigious journal in chemical education.
In addition, Hartel developed two separate mobile applications for students across the globe to use on their iPads and iPhones. To date, based on Apple statistics, nearly 79,000 students have downloaded at least one of these apps on organic nomenclature and organic relations.
Hartel earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Duke University.
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