Reaching out to Stanford’s diverse body of students and beyond to share the excitement of scientific discovery has been a growing passion for Dr. Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann. In addition to coordinating and co-teaching Stanford’s freshmen chemistry sequence, she takes a leadership role in developing training programs for teaching assistants and enhancing classroom and lab experiences for undergraduates, while also providing STEM learning opportunities for incoming freshmen and local high school students.
Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann studied chemistry at Washington University in Saint Louis Missouri (A.B. 2002) before coming to Stanford University as a graduate student (Ph.D. 2008). Her thesis work under Prof. Edward Solomon addressed structural contributions to reactivity in active sites of non-heme di-iron enzymes, including ferritins. She joined the Stanford Center (now Vice Provost) for Teaching and Learning as a Teaching Fellow in 2008. In 2009, she became Lecturer and Introductory Course Coordinator for the Department of Chemistry, and in 2011 was promoted to Senior Lecturer. She has received multiple awards for her teaching and training work, including the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, Dean’s Award for Achievements in Teaching, Hoagland Award Fund for Innovations in Undergraduate Teaching, and Society of Latino Engineers and School of Engineering’s Professor of the Year Award.
Dr. Schwartz coordinates and co-teaches the introductory course sequence of Chem31A, 31B, and 33 for about 450 students each year. She has also created a set of companion courses (Chem31A-C, 31B-C, and 33-C) designed to provide motivated students an opportunity to build stronger study habits and problem solving tools that help them persevere in the sciences regardless of prior science background. In parallel, she has been involved in the creation and teaching of the Leland Scholars Program, which facilitates the transition to college for incoming freshman intending to study in STEM or pre-health fields.
Dr. Schwartz has always believed that well-prepared and enthusiastic teachers inspire and motivate learning, yet excellent teaching requires training, feedback, reflection and support. She has worked both within the department and more broadly to help ensure that teaching assistants throughout the university receive the training, practice and mentorship they need to grow and excel as educators. She previously directed the Department of Chemistry’s TA Training program and, with the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, co-founded and directs the Mentors in Teaching Program, MinT, which provides training and resources to teaching mentors from more than 15 departments on campus. Through MinT, advanced graduate students learn effective ways to mentor TAs, through mid-quarter feedback, classroom observation, establishment of teaching goals, and workshops that enable new TAs to better engage with students in the classroom.
Enhanced Learning Experiences
Dr. Schwartz has been heavily involved in the development of hands-on, guided-inquiry lab activities that are now fully integrated into lab/lecture courses throughout the introductory general and organic chemistry sequence. Through the “Inspiring Future Scientists in Chemistry” Outreach Program, she is also helping to bring the excitement of exploring real-world chemistry into local high schools. She works with local high school teachers to design lab experiences that reinforce and compliment the chemistry concepts in the California State curriculum. Stanford Chemistry students take these activities to local high schools, providing hundreds of students the opportunity to work with enthusiastic young scientists while getting hands-on experience in chemistry. The program aims to demonstrate how chemistry relates to the ‘real world’ and to promote an appreciation for both science and higher education.
My name is Jennifer Schwartz and I am a Senior Lecturer in Stanford's Chemistry Department. I also did my graduate work here in Ed Solomon's lab earning a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry in 2008. During those 6 years, I found that teaching was my greatest passion, and I got deeply involved in developing new lab activities for our general chemistry program, Chem31A/B. I also began working with the Center for Teaching and Learning to help create a mentoring program for new TA's throughout the university. I am now very happy to be teaching full time in the Stanford Chemistry department where I am able to work with hundreds of talented and enthusiastic new students each year. I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to reach out to those who have not necessarily had a lot of exposure to chemistry, and help them develop a deeper understanding of the material and see how we can apply it to our everyday world! When I'm not teaching chemistry, I love to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors, cook up a tasty fondue dinner, or relax with an episode of the Big Bang Theory. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I am also an avid Packers fan and keep my cheese-head proudly displayed at home.