Department News

Ignacio Franco - G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence

May 10, 2019

IgnacioFrancoIgnacio Franco, assistant professor of chemistry and physics, will be awarded the G. Graydon Curtis '58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching at this year's commencement, May 2019. The award was established in honor of Professor Ralph Helmkamp ’11, Professor of Chemistry, and recognizes teaching excellence by a non-tenured member of the faculty. To quote the donor: “Recognizing that many tenured faculty members excel in both teaching and research, it is my expectation that this annual award, directed exclusively to the non-tenured faculty, will encourage both interest and excellence in instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels.” 

Professor Franco joined the faculty in July 2013. Since joining the University, he has been transforming the way undergraduate and graduate students are learning physical chemistry.  In his undergraduate class, Physical Chemistry 1 (CHM 251), Prof. Franco has introduced quantum mechanics students to state-of-the-art quantum mechanical research problems in literature, which he calls “Quantum in Action.” He developed a set of original lecture modules that connect the current topic of the week with some recent publication. For example, when discussing the “particle in a box,” he used recent papers on quantum potential wells formed from optical lattices.

Prof. Franco has invested heavily in understanding how to successfully teach quantum mechanics to undergraduates by reading chemistry educational literature. This effort resulted in his developing a series of effective pedagogical tools based on actual research on the teaching and learning of quantum mechanics, including new conceptual problems in peer-led workshops, homework, and exams, and the incorporation of computational demonstrations. The result is a class that combines the collective, historical experience of the chemistry department with respect to peer-led learning, state of the art research in the teaching of quantum mechanics, and close connections with the current literature.


Related Links...