Meet Rebecca Bozym, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and La Roche College Distinguished Alumna.
What was your professional background prior to joining the La Roche faculty?
Prior to La Roche I was a post-doc at a small biotech startup and then a post-doc at a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh.
What inspired you to pursue a career in chemistry?
Late-night talks with my dad actually inspired me to pursue chemistry. He worked for Westinghouse and traveled all over the country as a safety inspector for the nuclear power plants. We would stand in the kitchen at night talking about the nuclear plants, and their structure and how things worked. This sparked my curiosity about all things science.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I enjoy interacting with the students on a daily basis and passing on my knowledge to them. I like to see students get excited about what they are learning, and that is my favorite part. I also really enjoy being able to watch my students grow over the years. It is amazing how much they change and how quickly the time goes by.
What are some of the classes you teach?
I teach General Chemistry, Biochemistry, a Fluorescence course, Biochemistry labs, Seminar in Chemistry and Principles of Chemistry II. I also have taught Inorganic and Physical Chemistry. If I have time, I branch out to teaching a La Roche Experience course.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I hope my students agree that my teaching style is engaging. I like to talk with the students and ask them questions during lecture, and see if I can get them talking about a subject. I make a lot of jokes (that I admit most students don’t get). I often tie in a song or movie quote as well while I am teaching. I like to write on the board a lot, and I definitely get my step count in.
What advice do you have for students who want to pursue a career in the sciences?
I would tell them to have patience and perseverance. Science requires a lot of patience—in the lab waiting for a reaction to finish, not getting the result you were looking for, trying to learn a new concept—all of these things require patience. I think that often is a struggle for students.
A lot of times your experiment won’t work, and you can’t figure out why. It’s good to learn early on that you just “keep swimming” and continue to problem solve until it does work. You can’t give up because an experiment doesn’t work a few times; you need to remain determined and figure it out.
You also are a La Roche alumna. What did you enjoy most about your experience as a student here?
I enjoyed learning from my professors. I loved taking classes with them and learning all sorts of new things.
I also really enjoyed working on the nuclear magnetic resonance and being involved in ChemSOLVE. I also learned from my fellow students who came from different countries such as Rwanda. Talking to them about what they had been through was very eye-opening, and that is something that I will never forget.