High Tech with a Human Touch
MONICA H. BALOGA
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
B.S., University of Tennessee at Martin
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994
Merck Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado State University, 1994-1995
Phone: (321) 674-7298
Office: 120 Olin Physical Sciences Building
RESEARCH and TEACHING INTERESTS
As the chemistry coordinator, my major responsibilities include mentoring new general chemistry faculty, supervising graduate teaching assistants, coordinating the general chemistry lecture and laboratories, and supervising the organic chemistry teaching laboratories.
Some of the educational/curricular projects I have worked on include:
1. The development of a new laboratory curriculum in organic chemistry at Florida Tech to include independent research projects where students choose a 2 to 3 step synthesis from the chemical literature to implement in the lab course. This project is the result of an NSF CCLI-A&I grant (#0126651; PI: Monica Baloga) which funded the purchase of a console upgrade to our existing 60 MHz CW-NMR instrument giving it FT capabilities.
2. The development of PowerPoint presentations for instructional use in the general chemistry laboratories showcasing safety, lab technique, and demonstration of equipment use through photos and video. This is to ensure that a consistent level of instruction is maintained throughout the lab curriculum and to aid the students in visualizing new techniques. Funding for this project was received through an internal grant from the Academic Information Technology Committee at Florida Tech
3. The creation of enhanced on-line lab manuals for the organic chemistry curriculum. The on-line site (now incorporated in the university's learning management system ANGEL) describes the theory/background of techniques and reactions, and also contains photos and videos showing how certain procedures are performed. This site also acts as a training center for new graduate student assistants (GSAs) who will be teaching the lab courses. Funding for this project was received through an internal grant from the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Florida Tech
With the responsibility for the lower division labs, it is also my duty to train and advise graduate student teaching assistants. This includes assigning teaching schedules, running weekly lab meetings, and providing instructional support. In this capacity, my role is to structure the teaching assignments such that the graduate student has an easier time integrating them into their schedules.
I was born in Concord, CA, but grew up in a small town called Camden, TN, with seven brothers and sisters. My earliest influence in science was my father who has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. Thus after graduating from high school, I attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where I received a BS degree in chemistry. I was then accepted into the Organic Chemistry doctorate program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and began working in Dr. Steven Zimmerman's group. My research focused on the synthesis of a series of heterocyclic aromatic molecular tweezers, and the study of their binding potential to DNA. While there, I co-founded an educational outreach program called Encouraging Tomorrow's Chemist (ETC) which received external funding from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The program's objective was to provide local junior high and high school students with laboratory experiences that they otherwise would not have due to lack of funds and resources.
After receiving my Ph.D., I obtained a post-doctoral position at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO, under the direction of Dr. Robert Williams. My work there involved the derivatization of affinity matrices with ligands, which were then used to screen a vast combinatorial peptide library. Emphasis was placed on screening the library against the L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Ala ligand, a tripeptide found in bacterial cell walls and targeted by the antibiotic, vancomycin. In addition to my post-doctoral research, I worked part time as an instructor at Front Range Community College teaching general chemistry lecture and labs. I also developed the course and laboratory curriculum for organic chemistry. It was here that I finalized my decision to pursue a teaching career.
Initially, I was hired at Florida Tech as a Visiting Professor, but after my first year, I was asked to stay as a full-time faculty member. Since then I have been heavily involved with the general and organic chemistry programs and have received several teaching awards, such as The Kerry Bruce Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Florida Tech Chapter of National Honor Society Excellence in Teaching Award, both in 2006. I am faculty advisor to Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity, and to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life campus organizing committee. I also serve as chair of the campus Quality of Life committee and as the university's Accreditation Representative.