Since 2011, I have been teaching general chemistry, calculus, physical chemistry and advising research with undergraduates at Skidmore College. For three years before that, I taught general chemistry and advised research at Siena College, another liberal arts college near Albany, NY.
My specialty is theoretical and computational chemistry. I solve chemistry problems by deriving formulas and calculating things (with my own, or someone else's, software). In practical terms, I use math and computers instead of flasks and rotovaps.
My primary teaching responsibility at Skidmore is Principles of Chemistry (CH125), a fast-paced atoms-first general chemistry course that covers most of the material that other colleges require two semester-long courses to complete. Its a fun teaching challenge because we allow many students to start their college chemistry learning with this course, while others start with a prequel course (CH115). The audience in CH125 has diverse backgrounds and interests. And many of them never thought chemistry was interesting before CH125!
I advise and attempt to control a group of Ѕkidmore students researching the photochemistry of tryptophan using quantum calculations and molecular dynamics simulations. Biochemists use Trp as a fluorescent probe since its quantum excited state structure is highly sensitive to its environmennt---solvent and nearby residues. Can we predict Trp's absorption and emission wavelength? Intensity? Will it photobleach? How are all these properties affected by the molecular environment? How do conical intersections mediate the photochemistry? Chiefly we use Gaussian and computing time at the San Diego Supercomputing Center, thanks to support from the XSEDE project.
Students working on this research learn to use computational chemistry software to calculate molecular properties that would otherwise by difficult and expensive to determine experimentally. If you're a Skidmore student interested in this type of research, come by and chat. I am interested in working with students of any year who want to learn more about chemistry, physics, math, and computers. Students working with me have been chemistry, biology, math, and computer science majors.
I like bringing computational chemistry into the undergraduate curriculum. I have strengthened the role of computational chemistry (using a WebMO/Gaussian server at NCSA) in the physical chemistry courses at Skidmore. In collaboration with Jodi O'Donnell, an inorganic chemist at Siena College, we developed a computational chemistry activity where students learn how to construct their own Walsh diagrams and understand molecular orbital-molecular geometry relationships for the inorganic chemistry curriculum. A paper describing the activity and the confusion about Walsh diagrams in the research and pedagogical literature was published by The Chemical Educator.
Prior to my independent career, I was a graduate student at the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department of Cornell University, working with Greg Ezra on the quantum and semi-quantum mechanics of rigid rotating molecules in electric fields. I completed my dissertation in the summer of 2005. Generally, my coursework concentrated on chemical physics (quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, classical dynamics) and applied mathematics (including differential geometry and computational physics).
Since 2011, I have been teaching general chemistry (lecture and lab), calculus, and physical chemistry at Skidmore College (lectures and labs, two semesters of each).
From Fall 2008 to Spring 2011, I taught chemistry at Siena College to classes of no more than 35 students. (Labs: no more than 16). Primarily I taught general chemistry (lectures and labs). I also supervised the senior research experience ("Integrated Lab 4").
In Spring 2009, I designed and taught a brand new graduate course on statistical thermodynamics at SUNY-Albany. The primary text was Molecular Driving Forces by Ken Dill and Sarina Bromberg, a unique approach to the subject emphasizing simple "lattice model" calculations to support understanding of far-flung phenomena.
In Spring 2008 (and 2010) I designed and taught a brand new graduate course on computational chemistry at SUNY-Albany. This course brings chemistry students (none of them conducting research in pure physical or theoretical chemistry) quickly up to speed in quantum mechanics to understand electronic structure calculations applied to chemical problems.
In Fall 2007, I taught general chemistry at SUNY-Albany with 350 students, with complete responsibility for course design, lecturing, and examinations. (Have you ever taught 350 students at once? Your first time teaching a whole college course? I actually liked it (once I realized I was running a one-man theatrical production, not just lecturing) but I prefer smaller classes where I get to know my students, to better serve them.)
Publications (peer-reviewed)(undergraduate co-authors underlined)
- W. W. Kennerly, K. B. Billings, A. G. Geragotelis, J. L. O'Donnell, "A computational approach to Walsh correlation diagrams for the inorganic chemistry curriculum",
Chem. Educator 17, 57–63, 2012
- Y. Xue and W. W. Kennerly, "Quantum trajectory analysis of single-photon control from a single-molecule source",
J. Chem. Phys. 128, 054104, 2008
- C. A. Arango, W. W. Kennerly, and G. S. Ezra, "Semiclassical IVR approach to rotational excitation of nonpolar diatomic molecules by nonresonant laser pulses",
Chem. Phys. Lett. 420, 296–303, 2006
- W. W. Kennerly, "Molecules rotating in electric fields by quantum and semi-quantum mechanics"
Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University, 2005
- C. A. Arango, W. W. Kennerly, and G. S. Ezra, "Quantum and classical mechanics of diatomic molecules in tilted fields",
J. Chem. Phys. 122, 184303, 2005
- C. A. Arango, W. W. Kennerly, and G. S. Ezra, "Quantum monodromy for diatomic molecules in combined electrostatic and pulsed nonresonant laser fields",
Chem. Phys. Lett. 392, 486–492, 2004
One of the things I've been having fun with recently is learning from online coures at Coursera.org. Its a great way to pick up new skills and refresh old ones. As an educator, its also sort of fun to watch the instructors (faculty members at well-known research universities) experience basic problems with bringing their course online and making some simple pedagogical mistakes that annoy thousands of students simultaneously. Overall its a good experience, though. I've completed a bunch of courses on Data Analysis (using R), as well as electrical engineering and MOS transistors.