Office Hour: The Colorblind Chemist

Hi there! I’m Samuel Cai, and I’m blogger for Office Hour and Blogside Manner. For Office Hour, I visit professors at the best university in the world and talk to them about their jobs here at Brown!

This week, I talked to Professor Richard Stratt, a professor in the chemistry department at Brown. Despite his reputation for very difficult Chem 330 exams, he is incredibly friendly and welcoming!

Research: Perhaps is one of the most interesting things about Professor Stratt is the fact that he is a theorist, not an experimentalist. While he works very closely with experimentalists, his focus lies in the theoretical analysis of the mechanisms being experimented on. He described a project that he worked on, examining friction at a molecular level; while friction isn’t something we normally associate with molecules, the professor was quick to remind me that “there’s a molecular origin for everything”, and the work he’s done is truly fascinating, even for someone who isn’t planning to major in chemistry or physics. He has published over 100 times in the Journal of Chemical Physics, and he also has an impressive collection of papers published by undergraduate students in his research group, sometimes even as the lead author! He’s very easy to talk to, and his research is quite interesting for anyone interested in molecular interactions. Maybe your paper could be the next to be added to his growing collection!

Teaching: Professor Stratt has been at Brown for 35 years now! Currently, Professor Stratt is only teaching Chem 330, an introductory chemistry course (that I just had my midterm in). The reason he enjoys teaching at Brown so much is the fact that Brown students are passionate about so many different fields. Many students at many colleges are smart, but what sets Brown students apart is their willingness to explore and try new things, a quality that Professor Stratt really appreciates. While he does also teach many upper level courses, Professor Stratt also really enjoys teaching Chem 330 because it is often the first science class students will take at the university level (I’m guilty of that), and he enjoys introducing students to the complexities of solving and understanding analytical processes (his derivations are quite delightful for me).

Fun Fact: Professor Stratt is red-green color blind! While he assured me that it never hindered him in his studies, he was not able to tell whether I was wearing a blue or purple shirt (It was blue, Professor).

Thanks to Professor Stratt for taking the time to talk to me! I highly recommend any student who is interested in anything remotely close to chemistry or physics speak to Professor Stratt about his research. It’s a doozy.

Have a professor you’d like to see covered on Office Hour? Send me an email at samuel_cai@brown.edu!

 

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