Brent Iverson, Chemistry

Photo by Jay B Sauceda

Brent Iverson always emphasizes to his students the real-world application and importance of what they’re learning — whether it’s about organic chemistry or the value of exercise.

Once a semester, Iverson offers his students a chance to forgo testing on nomenclature — the formalism behind the naming of molecules — which Iverson says “is about as fun as it sounds.”

If 25 percent of the class participates in a designated 5-kilometer race, the questions won’t appear on their midterm or comprehensive final exam. Without fail, students show up in their laced-up running shoes.

Many tell Iverson years later that they may not remember everything they learned in class, but they are still running. One woman, whose participation in Iverson’s first offered race was also her first race ever, has now run marathons and even won the women’s division.

“If students make exercise a priority in their life now, it will be far more important than monetary success,” Iverson says.

In his lectures, Iverson says he focuses on listening to the students, respecting them, showing enthusiasm for the subject, and remembering that no matter how many times he’s taught the material, it’s a student’s first time learning it.

Each year he looks forward to the final review in his second-semester organic chemistry class — but not because that means the end is near. “The questions they ask are so incredibly insightful, brilliant, and it’s just remarkable to sit back and see how far they’ve come,” he says. “When you think about where they started, and you think about that first office hour and the questions you were being asked, and now how far people have gone, it’s just always inspiring. I mean, it’s amazing.”

 

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