Dr. Paul A. Wiget
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Howard School of Arts and Sciences
Samford University Birmingham, Alabama
B.S. Chemical Engineering, NMSU, 2004 Ph.D. Organic Chemistry, NMSU, 2010
I discovered my love of organic chemistry while taking Chem 315 as requisite for the B.S ChemE I was working towards. I was so taken by it, that I approached my professor and began undergraduate research the following summer. I discovered that I very-‐much enjoyed lab work and the making of new knowledge. This undergraduate work resulted in my first publication. After graduating with my bachelors degree, I knew I was an organic chemist at heart, and thus began pursuing my PhD in the laboratory of Dr. James Herndon. I learned of the trials and tribulations associated with a challenging project, and how not to focus on a goal. I also learned that no one was going to learn the material for me, nor run the reactions for me. I learned self-‐reliance in a frustratingly important way. I also learned how much I enjoyed teaching in the laboratory for both undergraduate researchers and the organic course labs.
I took this new knowledge to a post-‐doctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Eric V. Anslyn at the University of Texas at Austin. The lessons learned at NMSU gave me a fresh approach to research and an increased zeal for teaching. I therefore designed and carried our research with the sole focus of producing publishable work, and took as many opportunities to substitute for Dr. Anslyn as he would give me (nine lectures all said and done). In that time, a key on-‐site collaborator withdrew from the graduate program. I knew that if I didn’t fill the role left vacant by my biochemistry colleague, certain tasks would never be completed. I took on those tasks, and was trained in the lab of Dr. Jon D. Robertus on how to perform protein crystallography, in order to analyze the binding of the molecules I was synthesizing. The perseverance and goal-‐driven attitude I brought to the position, in conjunction with the direction of my supervisors led to three publications from just 14 months of work.
With successful research under my belt, I went on to participate in another post-‐ doctoral position whose primary focus was teaching. In the two years I spent at Villanova University under the supervision of Dr. Brian Ohta, I taught graduate level advanced organic chemistry, and spectroscopic determination of organic compounds, as well as sophomore organic chemistry I and II, and their corresponding labs. I learned of my real joy and knack for teaching, and supervising undergraduate research.
These experiences have led me to Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I have a triving undergraduate research program, and enjoy teaching Organic I and II and their corresponding laboratories. I now have the opportunities to instill in my students the same excitement and enthusiasm for organic chemistry that I leanred so many years ago.
I am so grateful for my time at NMSU. The chemistry department was so generous with their time and effort to shepherd me along my journey toward academia. From doing mechanisms on the second-‐floor chalkboard, to working all the way up to my last night in town, the chemistry building was my home for so many years. I owe it my success and thank it for my future.
You can learn more about research group and Samford University at my webpage: www2.samford.edu/~pwiget