Anuja Bhalkikar, a fifth-year graduate student with Nebraska Chemistry, was awarded a Spring 2017 Citation for Excellence in Teaching Chemistry. For Bhalkikar, it’s a nod to the preparation she puts into her classes.
“It feels good to be recognized for the effort,” Bhalkikar said.
Bhalkikar wasn’t looking to be recognized, but the citation serves as a reinforcement of her efforts. In order to provide the best learning environment for her students, Bhalkikar takes a few hours getting everything ready. She has taught Chemistry 105, 106, 109, and 110 and has found the preparation to be worthwhile no matter the class. It’s particularly fruitful when her students experience what she calls, “the ah moment.”
The ah moment is when her students understand the experiment and are able to link it to the theory being taught. This moment of realization allows Bhalkikar to see a payoff in the work she, and her students, put in. It’s this extra work that caught the eye of Dr. Jason Kautz.
“The success of Anuja’s students is byproduct of the effort she puts forth,” Kautz, Coordinator of General Chemistry, said. “She puts in all the work required to be a great TA, and it rubs off on those around her.”
That ah moment doesn’t happen for all, as not everyone is able to see the big picture when it comes to studying chemistry. Because of this, Bhalkikar tries to deliver the lesson in a way that everyone can relate to, and she hopes this helps her students see why it’s important to study chemistry.
“Chemistry is applicable everywhere. From the food you eat, to the air you breathe,” Bhalkikar said.
Bhalkikar is currently working in Dr. Barry Cheung’s lab, and her research is focused on catalysis. She is working on the development of ceria nanocatalysts for the conversion of carbon dioxide to organic carbonates. Once she graduates, she plans to return to the chemistry industry in India. She had worked for a fertilizer manufacturer in India before moving to the United States in 2012 for graduate school.
Bhalkikar plans on graduating sometime in the coming year.