Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2018 – Potsdam: Fadi Bou-Abdallah
Fadi Bou-Abdallah, Ph.D., is a Professor of Chemistry at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Potsdam. He received his M.Sc. in Chemistry in 1996 from the Lebanese University, Lebanon and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 2000 from the University of Paris-7, France. His regular teaching duties at SUNY Potsdam include introductory Chemistry courses for non-majors (on site and on line), General Chemistry labs, Chemistry topics and Chemistry seminar, and upper division Physical Chemistry courses (Lecs and Labs) for Chemistry majors.
In 2013, he was awarded the SUNY Potsdam President’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creativity, and more recently (2016) the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. He is also the recipient of competitive national awards for research and teaching such as the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award (2016) and the Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award (2017). Also in 2017, he was awarded the Thomas L. and Jane D. Russell Distance Education Faculty Excellence Award. His research interests are in the general area of iron–protein biochemistry, bio-inorganic chemistry, and physical chemistry of biological processes. He is the author of over 40 publications and serves on the editorial board of many international scientific peer-reviewed research journals. He is the elected Chair of the Northern New York Local Section of the American Chemical Society since 2012. He serves as a reviewer to over twenty peer-reviewed scientific journals, and U.S. and foreign government grant agencies. His research endeavors are supported by major research agencies including Research Corporation, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Learning chemistry in an online environment can present several challenges for students, particularly those who are not science, or computer and internet savvy, or those who simply seek to complete a physical science (SP) required general education course. All of this was kept in mind while designing my online course (Chemistry and Human Health) with the intent of creating a good learning environment and a positive experience for those who have never taken an online course. The topics that I chose are very engaging and drawn from daily life experiences and encounters. Because students can easily relate to these topics, it brings more fun to the learning process and makes it more practical where the purpose of the knowledge is justified. Each topic is accompanied by power point slides, computer animations, graphics, and U-tube videos to enhance the learning experience. I often direct my students to current events (via web links, videos, or research papers) that are relevant to the topics under study so that they see firsthand how the knowledge that they are acquiring applies to practical examples from daily encounters. The students read or listen to these news stories and offer their point of views, which at times could be challenged by peers, thus allowing them to revisit their original opinions or add supporting evidence and reasons to back up previous comments. This is one effective way to help them enhance their writing skills and critical thinking.