(September 13, 2010)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Centenary Welcomes New Organic Chemistry Professor

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service) — "My goal is to make organic chemistry not be a swear word. I want to make it clear to students that I am on their side and that chemistry does not have to be scary. Yes it might be hard, it might be a lot of work, but it can be very relevant to what they want to accomplish whether that is in chemistry, biology or going to medical school."

Dr. David Brownholland
Dr. David Brownholland

Meet Dr. David Brownholland, Centenary's newest addition to the Chemistry Department.

The new organic chemistry professor comes to the College by way of Washington University in St. Louis where he was involved in post-doctoral research at the school of medicine. He received his Bachelor of Arts in biology and Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of California-Santa Cruz, and his Ph.D. from Purdue University in chemistry.

His philosophy and approach to teaching are simple—he is here for the students and to help them make it through the course.

One way to accomplish that task Brownholland said, is for him to get to know his students and for them to get to know him. Coming from a large state university system, he said, made it nearly impossible to be able to interact with the students.

"The students in my classes have been wonderful," he said. "They have been engaging, have been asking fantastic questions and are very interactive in class. It has been a lot of fun to be able to interact individually with them."

"I also want my students to know that I am not an antagonist. I am here for them. Organic chemistry has such a negative connotation on campuses as something that is feared. My biggest challenge, I think, is to break through that barrier and convince students that while it can be hard and a lot of work, that it is something that can be manageable."

Besides making chemistry more manageable, Brownholland would also like to see more research opportunities and develop a year-round research program. Research, he said, is a big step in a student's academic and career development.

"It really is important for students at the undergraduate level to have those opportunities," he said. "The faculty has done a wonderful job providing those opportunities, and we need to continue encourage them and help the program to grow so that our students can go onto graduate school and have a very strong background in research."

The state-of-the-art equipment available to the students for research was in fact one of the biggest draws for Brownholland. It was something that impressed him about the chemistry department at Centenary before he even visited.

"I cannot think of another college this size with such a small faculty to student ratio that has this type of amazing instrumentation," he said. "To me that was extremely exciting and indicative that the department was providing real opportunities to students for independent research and for the classroom."

Another draw to Centenary was the size of the College and the opportunity to work closely with students and faculty. Coming from a larger state institution, he said, that was not always possible.

"Because of the class sizes here, it is personally satisfying for me to be able to get to know the students, and be able to mentor and advise them not just in class, but also about career ambitions and paths," he said. "When you are in a large class setting it is just not possible to grow and develop those types of relationships."

"The faculty is wonderful here," he added. "They are experts in their fields and the opportunity to collaborate between divisions is something I am really looking forward to. Having a collaborative environment is going to allow me to grow as an individual as well as allow me to learn new perspectives and new ways to solve problems."

Hailing from the Santa Cruz—Monterey Bay area of California, Brownholland has been here since July and is adjusting to his new surroundings in Shreveport, although he could do with a few less bugs and fire ants, a little less heat, and a good bagel shop.

"I thought when I went to Purdue I would move back to California as soon as I could once I finished my Ph.D.," said Brownholland. "But I really came to love the Midwest and the small-town atmosphere. That's one of the things that drew my wife and me to Shreveport and Centenary. Both are large enough to do some great things but you also have the feeling that this is a close-knit family and community."

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and has been recognized as "One of the Best 373 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of "America's Best Private Colleges" by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.