During the interview for a chemistry teaching job at Winthrop, Aaron Hartel spoke fervently about an organic chemistry teacher who taught him during his undergraduate studies at Penn State.He marveled at the logic and cohesiveness of lectures by Professor Roy A. Olofson, his high expectations for students and the impact the professor made on student lives year after year. Hartel left his alma mater with a vivid impression of what kind of professor he wanted to become.Hartel’s department chair at Winthrop, Pat Owens, said he has dramatically succeeded in that goal.The associate professor of chemistry is credited with increasing the rigor of Winthrop's organic chemistry program and received the university's top teaching award at the Dec. 14, 2013 undergraduate Commencement ceremony.The president presented Hartel the 2013 James Pinckney Kinard and Lee Wicker Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is an award given 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.To help upgrade the program, Hartel has 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 has developed six 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.He also has published four papers in Tetrahedron Letters, an international journal for organic chemistry and one of the most highly cited journals in the field, on organic methodology and the development of new reactions.As his department chair says, Hartel has become the department’s conscience for excellence in teaching.
Last updated 05/06/14
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