TeachWeek Keynote: How Organic Chemistry Became One of UCLA's Most Popular Classes
Organic chemistry has a bad reputation, despite having a tremendous impact on our everyday lives. It has remained a notorious "weed-out" class for decades – striking fear in the hearts of students – and has long been viewed as a gatekeeper course for those interested in pursuing a career in medicine. In this talk, Neil K. Garg (Caltech PhD, '05) will examine the underlying teaching philosophies that transformed organic chemistry into one of the most popular classes on the UCLA campus. Educational initiatives, including organic chemistry music videos, qrchem.net, The Organic Coloring Book, and BACON (Biology And Chemistry Online Notes) tutorials, will be discussed.
Neil Garg received a B.S. in Chemistry from New York University, where he did undergraduate research with Professor Marc Walters. During his undergraduate years, he spent several months in Strasbourg, France while conducting research with Professor Mir Wais Hosseini at Université Louis Pasteur as an NSF REU Fellow. Garg obtained his Ph.D. in 2005 from the California Institute of Technology under the direction of Professor Brian Stoltz. He then joined Professor Larry Overman's research laboratory at the University of California, Irvine as an NIH Postdoctoral Scholar. Garg joined the faculty at UCLA in 2007. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012, and then to Full Professor in 2013. Garg has served as Vice Chair for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2012-2016) and currently serves as Faculty-in-Residence in the UCLA undergraduate community. In 2018, Garg was appointed as the inaugural holder of the Kenneth N. Trueblood Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Garg has received numerous awards for teaching, such as California Professor of the Year, the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, and the American Chemical Society's James Flack Norris Teaching Award.