Richard C. Banks…Professor of Chemistry

Education…

Why I became a chemist…

I am not sure at what age I became interested in science but I was always interested in many things that involved science, such as airplanes, dinosaurs and geology. I remember when my parents bought me a microscope set when I was in grade school. It was wonderful to see things that were invisible to the naked eye, but what excited me even more than the microscope was the collection of awesome chemical compounds that were included with the set. When I mixed them up I had no clue as to what would happen but fortunately nothing exploded. Later, in high school, I became interested in making rockets and began mixing all sorts of dangerous chemical compounds together to make my rocket fuels. In those days we could not buy rocket motors and I had to make do with my own concoctions and they frequently exploded. My parents were not delighted with this hobby and worried for my safety…with good cause, I might add. Fortunately, I survived this phase of my life more or less in one piece and when I decided to enroll in college, chemistry was the obvious choice for my major.

To me, there is nothing more exciting than the study of chemistry because all the changes around us involve chemistry. When we are children, one of the questions we ask all the time is "why does this happen?" and chemistry does more to answer this question than the other sciences. Research into the mysteries of the universe and the explanations of why things happen allow us to better understand the world around us and vastly improve our lives. 

Teaching Philosophy…

My principle goal in teaching is to teach my students how to "think". Of course, what they are thinking about is chemistry and thus two goals are achieved rather than one. My philosophy of teaching is based on one simple principle…I sincerely try to treat each of my students as I would treat a friend. This seems to be effective in creating a good learning environment. Although presenting material in a clear, logical fashion is very important, a teacher should inspire and encourage students to have the intensity and focus in their studies and in their lives to be successful in their endeavors.

Teaching Awards and Honors…