Where did you go to college? What was it like there? How does it compare to Berea?
I got my B.S. from the Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio, and my Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota. Both are large public institutions. So I would say they are quite different from all small private schools – including Berea.
What did you receive your PhD in? What did you research? What would you say is your area of expertise?
I received my PhD in physical chemistry, actually in theoretical and computational chemistry. My research included studying the low-lying electronic states of 5 small nitrogen and phosphorous containing compounds. The smallest molecule was NNH2 and the largest was HCPNH. I used a number of different basis sets and existing programs. My largest calculation took 3 months on an 8530. The smallest calculation took 30 minutes. I also worked on code development and wrote a program with a new way of treating degenerate systems.
What is your current role in the Chemistry Department here at Berea?
I am here for one year as a sabbatical replacement for Jay Baltisberger. I am teaching the physical chemistry classes 262 this fall and 261 in the spring. I also teach a couple freshman chemistry classes and an organic lab.
Do you have any previous experience with teaching? If so, how do they compare to your experience so far at Berea?
I have been teaching since 1992, with a short break for a couple postdocs and a trip to Russia. I have taught classes ranging in size from 2 students to a class with 512 seats which closed. Obviously I’ve had a huge variety of teaching experiences!
What is your initial impression of Berea? What do you think about the location, policies, students, or principles of Berea College?
I love it here. I knew I loved it when I interviewed and was hoping I would get to come here. I love small towns, I love all the greenery and having 4 seasons. The campus is beautiful. The involvement of the students is something very different and I think great for campus. It almost feels like the university is student run because the students hold so many positions on campus. And because of their involvement with work on campus, it seems that our students are more active in interacting with the faculty, and with their own education.
So, moving into the more personal questions, where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Westerville Ohio which is close to Columbus. So I feel like I have almost come home. Berea is the closest place to home that I’ve lived in and worked at since I graduated.
Do you have any interesting chemistry stories from college?
As an undergraduate I did research with a crystallographer, and I prepared rhodium tetraacetate which I recrystalized from a 50:50 mixture of benzene and carbon tetrachloride. Obviously before all the dangers of using these compounds were commonly known!
What is your favorite element?
Rhodium. It forms the most beautiful colored crystals, mostly green and purple.
What are some interesting facts about yourself you would like to share? Any hobbies or interests?
One very nice aspect of my life is that I usually have every summer off and I use it to travel. I like learning foreign languages. I have studied Russian in Russia, Chinese in Beijing, French in Paris, and Spanish in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina.
A physical chemist that manages to travel the world and learn multiple languages? Seems pretty impressive to me!
Again, I would like to thank Dr. Kuhler for taking the time to answer our questions so thoughtfully, and I hope everyone enjoyed learning a little bit more about our newest additions here in the Chemistry Department.