As the creator of such popular courses as “Chemistry of the Kitchen” and “Beer, Wine and Spirits: The Art and Science of Fermentation,” Associate Professor of Chemistry Blake Gillespie employs fun, everyday applications to turn students into chemistry connoisseurs. His students explore chemistry through innovative laboratory exercises that apply to everyday life and merge disciplines like art and science.
“To understand science, students must do science,” Gillespie said. “Science is a process of questions and answers that leads to a more complete knowledge of self and world. The most important work I do with students and for students is ensuring they are not receptacles for facts but are instead independent creators of ideas.”
An early adopter of the “flipped classroom,” Gillespie requires biochemistry students to view his videotaped lectures online on their own time, freeing them to use class time for discussion, projects and problem-solving.
That hands-on philosophy guides Gillespie to run outreach and mentoring programs for underrepresented high school and community college students, exposing them to scientific research and career paths. He's also personally mentored dozens of CI students in undergraduate research, inspiring many to pursue advanced scientific degrees.
“I personally owe my advanced understanding of biochemistry and science to his unique
courses and dedication to his students,” said Kevin Eden, a former student now working as a biochemist for a major pharmaceutical company and entering a biochemistry Ph.D. program. “I believe that if more scientific courses were conducted with this type of multidimensional teaching, both science and non-science students would find the sciences more approachable, interesting and fun.”