Mathew Kumbier is one of our most dependable graduate teaching assistants. His steadfast approach to teaching has earned him one of four Spring 2016 Citation for Excellence in Teaching Awards.

“The professionalism Mathew brings to our TA program is valued by the faculty and staff as well as our undergraduate students,” Jason Kautz, Professor of Practice, said. “In addition, it is clear that Mathew is highly regarded by his peers. I am pleased to have Mathew as part of our teaching team.” 

From Neenah, Wisconsin, Mathew came to UNL in 2012, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He joined the department with a goal to seek answers to questions that went unanswered as an undergraduate, which he felt could only be found with research.

Mathew said his teaching style is one that encourages students to ask a lot of conceptual questions. To help them answer these questions he uses metaphors and analogies from our day-to-day situations that often go unnoticed.

“Bringing in practical examples where these concepts are used but people don’t think about the chemistry behind it really helps them understand the materials better,” Mathew said. “It’s important not to just give them the answers. You want them to come up with answers on their own.

What inspired Mathew to teach was volunteering as an undergraduate to tutor his friends in chemistry. As they passed the course, it showed Mathew that he has the tools to help students understand the material. Today, Mathew tutors students in the Resource Center.

“I really enjoy teaching. It’s nice to help people get an understanding of the material,” Mathew said. “There is something rewarding about watching people understand the material for the first time. I want to help students see the reasoning behind why they are doing what they are doing.”

Mathew is in his fifth year in the Ph.D. program focusing on Inorganic Chemistry under the guidance of Bessey Professor Marjorie Langell.

In his spare time, Mathew enjoys traveling, reading, playing games, and hanging out with his wife.

He anticipates a 2017 graduation after which, he hopes to step into the classrooms again as a college professor.

Additional Accomplishments

University Honor Roll                                   Spring 2012, Fall 2009
Dean’s List                                                         Fall 2008
Awarded: Eagle Scout                                    February 2008 


Kumbier, M.; Christensen, G.; Langell, M.; Controlling the unit cell lattice parameters in nanoscaled CuxPd1-xO by composition and crystallite size Presented at the American Chemical Society Spring 2015 National Meeting, Denver, CO

Harbison, G.*; Langell, M.; Young-Sik, K.; Kumbier, M.; Oxidative degradation of trinitrotoluene by mixed metal oxide nanoparticles in water Presented at the American Chemical Society Spring 2015 National Meeting, Denver, CO *Presented by G. Harbison

Langell, M.*; Peck, M.; Kumbier, M.; Wilson, D.; Local and long range structure in metal oxide nanoparticles Presented at the American Chemical Society Spring 2015 National Meeting, Denver, CO *Presented by M. Langell