Faculty Profiles

faculty photo imageNicole James

Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Chemistry Department
Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences

I earned my B.A. in Chemistry and German Studies from Whitman College (2011), and my M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Chicago (2019) where I worked in the Jaeger lab on the surface chemistry between micron-scale particles in concentrated particulate suspensions. Simultaneously, I was heavily involved in the Chemistry Collaborative Learning Program and the Chicago Center for Teaching. These concurrent research and teaching experiences highlighted for me the deep need to better support students in activating their chemistry knowledge in interdisciplinary contexts such as materials science. This motivated me to pursue a post-doctoral position in Chemistry Education Research (CER) at Northern Illinois University, where I designed, implemented, and assessed an introductory chemistry course reform. Through this project, I developed my skills in CER methods. At Reed, I use these methods to explore the interrelated questions of: (1) How do students activate their chemistry knowledge in unfamiliar, interdisciplinary contexts? (2) What are the core, foundational concepts and skills that define materials chemistry, and how do we support the teaching and learning of these skills? In addressing these questions, I emphasize the importance of equity-centered research frameworks to ensure our research outputs work toward more inclusive and accessible chemistry education for all students.

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