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Chemistry Professor Tim Jackson develops upper-level Honors science course

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dr. Tim Jackson

Tim Jackson, associate professor of chemistry and new Honors Faculty Fellow, is working to address the needs of the University Honors Program’s growing number of science majors. With about 30 percent of Honors students choosing to major in the natural sciences – more than ever – Professor Jackson and Honors Director Jonathan Earle want to ensure that those students stay connected to the Honors Program throughout their college careers.

So, Professor Jackson has developed a new upper-level science course, “The Inorganic Chemistry of Life,” which will be offered beginning this fall. The course option offers Honors students a way to take a chemistry course without having taken Honors General Chemistry as a freshman.

“This is unique content, taught in a way more in line with how Honors students learn that will allow them to explore. We will equip them with the tools and the knowledge in the beginning of the course, then they will do projects and present them to one another,” Jackson says.

He has been impressed with the Honors Program since he began teaching Honors General Chemistry in the fall of 2011 and has become increasingly involved with the program, especially with advising students, as the numbers of science majors has jumped.

“I think the Honors Program does a good job of encouraging students to get involved in research early on. That is important in the sciences, because by their junior or senior year, they are doing work at almost a graduate level,” he says.

All of the Honors students he advises plan to go to either graduate school, pharmacy school or medical school, so having academic achievements at the graduate level is important for their next steps. That is another reason the new upper-level science course – and possibly more in the future – will be helpful for Honors students.

Jackson takes the Honors experience to heart – he has a freshman Honors student working in his bioinorganic chemistry lab, alongside five graduate students and a post-doctoral student. They are working to make models of manganese-type enzymes similar to those in plants, to be used in man-made systems.

He taught an Honors seminar last fall, “Laboratory to Textbook,” which examined the stories and people behind key experiments. It took both a historical and scientific perspective.

“When I teach an Honors course, I try to let students know that the way I teach the class is on par with any class across the country. Honors students are really great at responding to challenges. I set the bar really high, because I knew all of them could make that,” he says.

When he is not teaching or overseeing his lab, Jackson enjoys cooking – particularly using ingredients from his own garden to make pesto, salsa and tomato sauces. He spends much of his weekends at the park with his wife, Sarah, and their kids, Ben, 5, and Madeleine, 2.

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Course offerings are “among the most comprehensive in the nation,” according to “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs”
98% of University Honors Program graduates are employed or accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation
40% of students in the University Honors Program conduct research before graduation
9 to 1: Average ratio of KU honors students to faculty advisors
1 of only 7 programs nationwide to receive a top rating from “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs” in 2014
60% of University Honors Program students study abroad
KU honors students select their advisors from top-ranked KU faculty
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