Collegium of University Teaching Fellow

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UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate student Matthew Fontana (Schwartz Group) has been named a UCLA Collegium of University Teaching Fellow.

The UCLA Collegium of University Teaching Fellows (CUTF) is an innovative program that creates unique learning opportunities for both graduate teaching fellows and undergraduate students on campus. Through the program, some of UCLA’s very best advanced graduate students have the opportunity to develop and teach a lower division seminar in their field of specialization on a one-time only basis. This experience serves as a “capstone” to the teaching apprenticeship, preparing them for the academic job market and their role as future faculty.  At the same time, undergraduates enrolled in CUTF seminars have the chance to take courses that are at the cutting edge of a discipline and to experience the benefits of participating in a small-seminar environment.  

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Matthew Fontana (Schwartz group) explains his research to students.

Matthew Fontana’s biography and an overview of his CUTF Course:

Matthew is a native Californian and grew up in Sonoma County. He attended Sonoma State University where he received degrees in chemistry and physics in 2012. After graduating, he started school at UCLA and joined the research group of Professor Ben Schwartz where he works on organic photovoltaics.

The topic of Matthew’s CUTF course is “Communicating Science: Chemistry in the World Around Us.” The goal of the seminar is to expand the perspective of his students so that they can come to see how they are active participants in a world of chemistry. The course will show the students that by simply engaging in everyday activities they are constantly being exposed to and learning chemistry. This constant exposure to chemistry will be investigated through the multiple ways in which science and chemistry are communicated every day. This includes literature, media, television, everyday materials, science fiction and popular culture. The seminar will investigate each form of communication by identifying the science presented followed by a discussion to learn the science. This will allow the students to both recognize and understand the chemistry in their daily lives. Additionally, these examples will emphasize the importance of chemistry by demonstrating that chemistry is responsible for the world we know. 

Once learning the chemistry, the students will have the opportunity to practice the multiple forms of science communication to reinforce their own learning. This engagement in chemistry will also be supported by highlighting chemistry in a research setting through tours of various UCLA laboratories and facilities.

Matthew is thankful for the opportunity to share his excitement for chemistry with his students and hopes they will come to appreciate chemistry and find it a fun and exciting subject used to explain daily phenomena.

The 2014 CUTF Chemistry and Biochemistry students were Maria Dzialo and Hung Pham.

Photos by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.