Thu, 01 Jun 2023

Dr. Rispah Janet Ochola

Douglas College

Weaving Culture into Chemistry

Tuesday, June 01, 2023
AQ 3159 @ 2:30 p.m.

Host: Dr. Carla Pretorius



How can we interlace knowledge gained by experience outside the formal learning space with that learnt in the classroom? This talk will discuss examples of initiatives and learning activities that blend conventional course content with the personal experiences of educators and learners. The focus will be on activities in first-year Chemistry courses, Organic chemistry, the Chemistry of Cooking, and research at the undergraduate level. This approach creates an accessible and diverse environment where both educator and learner feel a sense of belonging, rather than editing themselves to fit in. It is vital to encourage the link between fundamental chemistry, personal experiences and applications of science. The development of chemistry courses that engage and empower learners at an early stage, allowing them to weave cultural experiences into their coursework, will create scientists who can analyze and solve problems in diverse communities.

Presenting Speaker's Biography

Rispah Janet Ochola is a faculty member in the Chemistry Department at Douglas College, where she has taught first- and second-year courses for the past 5 years. Her focus is on developing learning activities that are engaging and accessible to learners from diverse backgrounds. Janet has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Acadia University, and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of British Columbia, working with Prof. Michael Wolf. Her PhD thesis focussed on further understanding photocatalyst excited states and the effect of excited state lifetime on the rate of product formation. Photocatalysts drive reactions using light as an energy source, and they have recently become a mainstay of the pharmaceutical industry.Janet has engaged in outreach projects since graduate school, and she believes that outreach is an essential tool for educating and connecting with learners in and outside the classroom. She works with colleagues at Douglas College on initiatives that foster diversity and increase accessibility of chemistry and other science-based fields. She is currently working on projects that intertwine her favourite interests: chemistry, culture and food.