June 2001

From Williams College

Chemistry workshops for college faculty

NSF grant establishes workshops in novel topics and innovative ways to teach chemistry

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., June 7, 2001--Professors Lawrence Kaplan of Williams College, Emelita Breyer and Jerry Smith of Georgia State University, and David Collard of Georgia Institute of Technology were recently awarded $1,853,807 by the National Science Foundation for a Center for Workshops in the Chemical Sciences. Kaplan and his colleagues will serve as co-directors of the project.

The Center’s 36 workshops will teach basic and applied concepts of the newest chemical sciences and innovative instructional techniques. They are free to qualifying participants from both two and four year undergraduate institutions, at various locations around the country over the next three years. Faculty representing a broad array of institutions including those of the co-directors will lead workshops in their specialized fields.

Eight workshops will be presented this summer: "Laser Technology" at James Madison University, "Molecular Modeling" at the University of California at Riverside, "Forensic Chemistry" at Williams College, "NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance)" at Washington State University, "Molecular Genetics" at Georgia State University, "Organometallic Chemistry" at Georgia Institute of Technology, "Chemical Education" at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and "Chemistry of Art" at Millersville University.

Kaplan will lead a five-day workshop, June 18-22, on "Forensic Chemistry" at Williams College. The workshop will provide an understanding of the application of forensic science to all aspects of undergraduate chemistry instruction. Topics will include laws of admissibility for forensic evidence, fingerprint analysis, blood typing and DNA profiling. Well known historical cases such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the authentication of the Shroud of Turin, and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping will be used in illustration. Collection of evidence from "a crime scene" will furnish material for a lab which will include investigation of trace evidence such as glass, fibers and ink, arson accelerants, explosives, heavy metal poisons, drugs, alcohol, and serological fluids. In addition to college and university faculty participants this year, a dozen Massachusetts Trial Court judges will join Kaplan’s forensic workshop’s units on DNA profiling and on drug detection.

Kaplan's workshop unites his interests in chemistry education and forensic science. At Williams College, Kaplan teaches a course titled "Chemistry and Crime: from Sherlock Holmes to Modern Forensic Science." He is also developing a multimedia laboratory program, which uses forensic science to facilitate students' understanding of scientific techniques.

At Williams since 1971, Kaplan also teaches advanced courses in physical chemistry and biochemistry. His research has been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemistry, and the Journal of Chemical Education, among others. He has received a number of NSF grants, as well as grants from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Kaplan received his B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1965 and his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1970.

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