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COVID-19 Pivots

Virtual Teaching / Lab Instruction During COVID-19


Image of Katie Gesumdo and welcome sign for chem161 

Transitioning a general chemistry laboratory course to be completely remote presented plenty of challenges, but Professor Katie Gesmundo was excited for the opportunity. As the hands-on experiments could not run, Professor Gesmundo and Co-Director of General Chemistry Lab, Professor Veronica Berns, pivoted to online simulations, “kitchen chemistry” explorations, and videos. All of the new experiments meet the core learning goals of general chemistry lab: design experiments, collect data, critically analyze the results, and communicate the findings. Professor Gesmundo found that, as a new member of the Teaching Line faculty, designing the class for remote instruction really allowed her to focus on the core goals of the course. While her first quarter as faculty at Northwestern looks a little different than usual, she is excited for this quarter teaching Chem 161 and can’t wait to meet her students!

Virtual Graduate Orientation During COVID-19

The Graduate Program Office, Jonathan Maendel and Colleen Kjellberg, faced multiple obstacles when creating its first-ever virtual orientation. Northwestern’s decision to start the fall quarter a week early in addition to the Labor Day holiday only allowed for orientation to take place over two weeks, rather than the traditional three.  All events including faculty presentations and TA training sessions would also need to take place virtually in accordance to local and state regulations. To help keep students keep track of their busy orientation schedules, the Graduate Program Office created an orientation page on Canvas that broke down each day’s activities. This orientation page included resources like important financial documents, department contacts, and course recommendations to help ease students’ transition into the PhD. Program. Student organization (GLC) hosted a social event that allowed the new cohort to meet other graduate students. The new cohort has also shown great initiative in using social media to create their own sense of community. We are excited for the new fall quarter and are looking forward to seeing everyone on campus soon!