SCS, Chemistry recognize faculty, graduate students for teaching excellence


The School of Chemical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry have recognized a group of faculty members, faculty instructors and graduate students for their commitment to excellence in the classroom in the 2022-23 academic year.

2022-2023 School of Chemical Sciences Teaching awards

Two faculty members and three graduate students in the Department of Chemistry received the annual awards for excellence in teaching from the School of Chemical Sciences. SCS Teaching Award recipients were also awarded in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. They include Christopher Rao and Xiao Su, who received Faculty Teaching Awards and Graduate Student Teaching Awards were awarded to Riccardo Candeago, Hsin-Lan Chiang and Saman Shafaei.

Recipients in the Department of Chemistry:




SCS Faculty Teaching Award recipient

Head shot of Joaquin Rodriguez-Lopez on a white background
Joaquín Rodríguez-López

The J. Andrew and Susan S. Langan Professorial Scholar, an LAS Distinguished Professorial Scholar and Associate Professor of Chemistry, research in the Rodríguez-López lab combines interests in electroanalytical chemistry and energy materials by developing chemically sensitive methods for studying ionic and electronic reactivity in nano-structures, highly-localized surface features, and ultra-thin electrodes.




SCS Lecturer Teaching Award recipient

Head shot of John Leveritt on a gray background
John Leveritt

Leveritt has been a teaching faculty member for chemistry at Illinois since July 2019. He graduated from Tulane University in 2013 with a PhD in theoretical chemistry. 





SCS Graduate Student Teaching Award recipients

Portrait of Glenn Blade wearing a blue and orange Illinois t-shirt standing in front of a brick wall.
Glenn Blade — Mirica Group

A rising third-year graduate student in the research group of Prof. Liviu Mirica, Blade was a TA in CHEM 512 (Advanced Inorganic) and CHEM 312 (undergrad Inorganic).

What do you enjoy about teaching?

“One of my favorite things about teaching is interacting with students during office hours! Its super fun to engage with them in a low-pressure environment where you can sense their excitement to learn and solve problems.”


Head shot of Shounak Nath on a gray background
Shounak Nath — Mirica Group

A rising third-year graduate student in the research group of Prof. Liviu Mirica, Nath was a TA in CHEM 518 (Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms) in Fall 2022 and a TA in CHEM 483 (Solid State Structural Analysis) in Spring 2023.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

Living those moments when the students successfully grasp a new concept or are able to work out a problem after that initial push: those words ‘Aha! This makes a lot of sense!’ are rewarding in itself. Crafting explanations to these concepts and problems in a way that is more understandable is enjoyable too. Moreover, this was a learning process for me as well. I could take a much deeper dive into the concepts I had to teach/ discuss problems on, and this enhanced my understanding of the subject even better. My perspective had also broadened by listening to the ideas that the students had and how they thought about solving some of the problems.”

Portrait of Brandon Rasmussen on a white background
Brandon Rasmussen — Vura-Weis group

A rising third-year graduate student in the research group of Prof. Josh Vura-Weis, Rasmussen was a TA in the physical chemistry lab courses, CHEM 445 and 447.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

“One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching is being able to help the students develop and successfully apply skills necessary to become great scientists. This is particularly true in physical chemistry, where we are often developing and building a fundamental understanding of some of the most important spectroscopic techniques that every chemist should be comfortable with.” 


Chemistry Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Fellowships for 2022-23

Three graduate students have received Department of Chemistry Teaching Excellence Awards recognizing graduate students for their exceptional contributions in teaching during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Dr. Sandra Murawski Award for Teaching Excellence

Head shot of Rachel Schaaf on a gray background
Rachel Schaaf — Hergenrother group

A first-year graduate student in the research group of Prof. Paul Hergenrother, Schaaf was TA in both the fall and spring semester for Chem 332: Elementary Organic II.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

Teaching allows me to share my love of chemistry with others. In the classroom, not only am I teaching the students the material, but the students are teaching me how to be a better instructor and how to look at the concepts in new ways. Additionally, when a student finally understands a concept, the look on their face is so rewarding. Sharing chemistry with others is a privilege I am glad to have.”


Zumdahl Teaching Award

Portrait of Suri with arms crossed standing in front of main entrance to Noyes Laboratory.
Suritra Bandyopadhyay — Chan group

A first-year graduate student in the research group of Prof. Jeff Chan, Suri was a TA for CHEM 233 in Fall 2022 and CHEM 436 in Spring 2023.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

“It is so hard for me to pinpoint one single thing! I feel that the entire process of teaching is such a wholesome experience, fueling my own learning and growth. I relish the challenge of expanding my knowledge through the unique perspectives that my students bring. Their ability to ask thought-provoking questions that I have never thought of before helps me get newer dimensions into the lessons that I teach. Ultimately, for me, it has got to be my students themselves who make teaching an absolutely fulfilling journey!”


Professor Peter Beak Endowed Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award

Portrait of Seth Klaine in a suit jacket and tie standing in front of Noyes Laboratory's main entrance.
Seth Klaine — White group

A second-year graduate student in the research group of Prof. M. Christina White, Klaine was a TA in CHEM 236 and 436.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

“Seeing students make progress throughout the semester and finally reaching their potential.”