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Professor presents lessons learned from pandemic at international conference

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Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Dr. Helen Boylan, professor of chemistry and director of Westminster College's Center for the Environment, presented a poster entitled “Lessons from an uncertain world for analytical coursework and labs” at SciX 2021 held Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 2021, in Providence, R.I.

Boylan’s poster focused on three key lessons learned from teaching ES 231 Environmental Analysis during the Fall 2020 semester: resilience in authentic student teams; outside-the-box lab work; and integration of diversity issues.

Semester-long student project teams provided critical peer support for the students during the pandemic, and the students embraced the topic of diversity in the context of the analytical sciences following the summer of social unrest.

Because of the hybrid nature of Environmental Analysis course, with four full-time virtual learners and multiple students in and out of quarantine, the labs and project work for the course focused on analytical chemistry using consumer products. Virtual learners and students in quarantine were able to complete the labs and research projects using take-home kits of commercially available supplies.

“It was difficult to teach analytical chemistry during the pandemic, but it challenged me to think about new ways to approach the course content and labs,” explained Boylan. “I will continue to use some of the teaching innovations even when the pandemic is over.”

SciX, presented by the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS), is an annual international conference at the forefront of analytical chemistry and allied sciences.

Boylan joined the Westminster faculty in 2001. She earned her undergraduate degree from Westminster and her Ph.D. from Duquesne University.

Boylan presenting her poster at SciX.