Teaching and Research in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Colgate University

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The chemistry department is presently conducting a tenure-stream faculty search in the area of biochemistry/chemical biology. View our advertisement and application information.

Colgate University is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts universities. Our mission is strongly focused on undergraduate education. The chemistry department offers BA degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, and we do not offer graduate degrees. Teaching and pursuing research with undergraduates is exciting and rewarding. We know, however, that potential candidates may be unfamiliar with the opportunities and expectations at predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUI), or how to best showcase their experiences when applying for such a faculty position. Thus, we have prepared the following document to clarify key items when considering a faculty career at Colgate University and when applying for our position. Further information on working at a PUI may also be found in a helpful FAQ document produced by the chemistry department at Williams College.

Teaching

We seek an aspiring scholar-teacher to join our department of committed educators. Colgate faculty love to teach in the classroom, instructional lab, research lab, and in all sorts of informal settings. We have the pleasure of teaching bright and motivated students, and we are dedicated to ensuring that all students receive a top-notch education in a welcoming and inclusive environment. The following items describe specific aspects of teaching in the chemistry department at Colgate.

Courses, Course Load, and Class Size

The successful candidate for our biochemistry/chemical biology position will teach courses in foundational and advanced biochemistry, General Chemistry, and a course in the Scientific Perspectives component of the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. You will also teach a biochemistry instructional lab, and general chemistry labs. Of course, you will not do all of this at the same time.

The normal teaching load at Colgate is five course credits per academic year. Lecture classes count for one course credit and instructional lab sections count for one-half credit. The department offers some half-semester (seven week) lecture and lab courses that also count for half a teaching credit, and faculty earn a half teaching credit for supervising senior research projects (a requirement for all senior majors). The five courses are divided roughly evenly between the two semesters.

General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry are taught in multiple sections, with each lecture class having 25-40 students and each lab section having 15-20 students. Our upper-level courses are generally much smaller, with typical enrollments ranging from 3-30 students. Upper-level lab courses are usually limited to 8 students. The department generally graduates a total of 20-25 chemistry and biochemistry majors each year. The student to faculty ratio at Colgate is 9:1.

Colgate does not offer regular courses in the summer. The summer months are reserved for research activities which includes many Colgate undergraduates working full time in our labs for 8-10 weeks. As added summer fun, students and faculty also compete in the annual Tetrahedrathalon, the department’s summer picnic and sports outing.

Teaching Support for Faculty

We understand that many competitive candidates have not had extensive teaching experience as graduate students or as post-doctoral fellows, and may never have had full responsibility for a course. Perhaps you have served as a TA in recitation sections or labs, or mentored undergraduates in a research setting. Colgate provides a good deal of support for new faculty (and established faculty as well).

Chief among the support for teaching is the Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research, which sponsors many events including lunchtime teaching tables, symposia on teaching and learning, reading groups, and informal breakfasts to discuss pedagogy. Colgate’s Faculty Development Council oversees the allocation of funding for professional development for teaching and pedagogy, course development, and faculty travel related to course and professional development. There are many opportunities to meet with other faculty members, both within the department and outside, particularly during the faculty-wide retreat every spring to discuss the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum. Senior colleagues mentor junior members of the department and lend advice or a sympathetic ear. Chemistry department staff members are available to help prepare materials for the instructional laboratories, as well as for in-class lecture demonstrations.

Showcasing Your Teaching Experience in Your Application

The teaching statement is an excellent vehicle for you to share your ideas about teaching and the experiences you have had that will inform how you would teach at Colgate. We realize that you may not have had full responsibility for a course, but tell us about the teaching that you have done and what you learned from it. Be sure to highlight any workshops or training on teaching and learning that you have completed. Let us know the subjects that you are most passionate to teach. Let us know why you want to teach in an undergraduate setting. We are eager to learn more about your experiences, interests, and how you plan build on them in your classes at Colgate.

The high-quality liberal arts education that we will offer to future generations of students must be built upon lively and active scholars who bring new ideas and perspectives into the classroom and transform students with their own enthusiasm for their work.

Vision Statement Colgate University

Research

As articulated in the university’s Vision Statement, “Some believe there is a trade-off between faculty members who are productive scholars at the forefront of their fields and faculty members who are good, supportive teachers and community members. At Colgate, we would not be true to our institutional ethos if we accepted this position. The high-quality liberal arts education that we will offer to future generations of students must be built upon lively and active scholars who bring new ideas and perspectives into the classroom and transform students with their own enthusiasm for their work.” As with teaching, Colgate values research highly and the department expects new faculty members to become independent scholars who actively engage undergraduate students in research, present at regional and national meetings, and publish in peer-reviewed journals.

Thus, we are also seeking an aspiring scholar-teacher to join our department of active scholars committed to scientific discovery through research. Colgate faculty love to tackle meaningful research questions. To get a feel for the ongoing research in our department, please sample our faculty profile pages. Much of the research in the department is done in collaboration with our students. Colgate students are eager to contribute to research projects, and they are exceptionally capable. The following items describe specific aspects of conducting research in the chemistry department at Colgate.

Research Support for Faculty

Each professor in the department has a dedicated research laboratory. New faculty are able to equip their lab with start-up funds from the university. The chemistry department stockroom maintains a large inventory of communal research supplies that are purchased using the department’s annual budget. The university’s Environmental Health and Safety Office stocks many common chemicals and solvents that are also generally purchased using department funds. The Facilities link on the department’s webpage lists some of the major shared equipment that is readily available. There are no “user fees” applied to the use of any department equipment.

In addition to funds for research supplies and chemicals, the chemistry department also receives institutional support for some major and minor equipment as part of our annual budget. The department is served by an administrative assistant, an instrument technician, and a stockroom supervisor. The Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics supports a machine shop and Colgate operates a dedicated science library.

Colgate provides annual funds to each faculty member for professional needs. Faculty members receive up to $2000/year to cover travel to conferences, professional books, professional society memberships or other expenses related to scholarly work. Modest additional funding for laboratory research supplies/equipment or research travel is available via application to the Colgate Research Council.

Colgate has a generous sabbatical program, including a one-semester assistant professor leave, which is typically taken in the 4th year of teaching. Post-tenure, faculty earn sabbaticals at the rate of 0.5 SLA (Scholarly Leave Account) credits for every 2 semesters taught. Faculty may also receive SLA credit for mentoring research students in the summer. Faculty members apply to take a sabbatical and typically use 2 to 3 SLA credits for a one-semester sabbatical. Faculty may accumulate 5 SLA credits to take a two-semester sabbatical.

Funding for Research Students

Every chemistry and biochemistry major completes a year-long senior research project, but students as early as their first year might also work in a lab and receive student wages or academic credit. Funding is available from a variety of sources including the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, endowed departmental student summer research funds, the Faculty Research Council, and through external grants. Typically ~200 undergraduates across all disciplines conduct summer research at Colgate. In the chemistry department, there are often about 30 students engaged in research during the summer.

External Research Funding

Although external research funding is not a requirement for tenure, Colgate expects that new faculty members will establish active research programs that will be attractive to external funding agencies and that faculty will apply for funding. Colgate has a grants office to assist faculty in identifying potential funding opportunities and submitting competitive grant proposals. Faculty members in the department have had very good success over the years securing funds from many foundations and government agencies.

Showcasing Your Research Plans in Your Application

Your proposed research plans should be written for a non-specialist, while including sufficient detail to show that the research is well thought out. The research plans should be ambitious and address a significant area of biochemistry/chemistry. Your research plans should also be mindful of Colgate’s undergraduate setting, taking into consideration ways in which students can be involved in the proposed research.