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William Mattson

Professor of Chemistry

Bill Mattson

My passion is teaching. I am one of the richest people on the planet in that I get paid for doing something I thoroughly enjoy.

In all of my classes, I expect my students to work hard and to strive for excellence.

Accomplishments are not measured in how many details are memorized or in how many processes are mastered. What is important is that a true, quality understanding is achieved, such that the student both sees the world with different eyes and can deal with the challenges in her or his future.

To improve my ability to communicate an understanding of chemistry, I have spent the previous fifteen summers teaching general chemistry at the University of Virginia. A memorable piece of student feedback: "I took the chemistry test. I did not know the answers to all of the questions, but what I did not know I could figure out. I made a perfect 800."

I was invited to present an ACS Webinar on Creative Problem Solving in Chemical Research (May 5, 2011). The ACS weekly webinar series is designed to connect ACS members and scientific professionals with subject matter experts and global thought leaders in chemical sciences, management, and business on relevant professional issues. In addition to presenting the webinar, I have participated in numerous weeklong ACS Speakers Tours, been invited multiple times to speak to several local ACS sections, was invited to be the 27th Annual Harold Hammond Garretson Speaker at Lynchburg College, and have been invited back dozens of times to talk about problem solving in research to undergraduate students at the University of Virginia. In each case, the audience response has been positive, reflecting both their improved insights and abilities in problem solving and the entertaining nature of the talk.

In addition to teaching general, analytical, and instrumental chemistry and to working both on and off campus with students on research projects, I offer a popular course in creative and critical problem solving. The students greatly improve their abilities to think and to solve problems. A memorable piece of student feedback came from a student after a summer: "After I was working on my job for two weeks everyone was calling me MacGyver because I was so good at problem solving."

I have spent 23 of the past 25 summers teaching or conducting research at the University of Virginia, James Madison University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Tennessee. I served as a senior reviewer charged with helping to audit all Advanced Placement chemistry courses in the nation, a consultant for the South Carolina Course Alignment Project, a question writer for the American Dental Exam, an Educational Testing Service chemistry Advanced Placement reader, a National Science Foundation panel member for grant evaluation, a director of the Central Virginia Regional Science Fair, and a master of ceremonies for a high school Academic Competition for Excellence program.

It is very important to me that my students like me, but what is most important is that, 10 years into their futures, they are grateful for what they have learned.