Our chosen Featured Faculty for October 2012 is Dr. John Means.
How long have you been teaching at Rio?
This is my sixth year.
Over the years how many different courses in the School of Sciences have you taught?
(Estimate if you can’t remember exactly)
I have taught seven different courses at Rio Grande, and three different courses at Capital University.
What is your favorite course to teach at Rio…and why?
I would have to say the Biochemistry sequence because my personal and research interests are contained within those two courses. When the instructor is excited about a subject, it makes for a more enjoyable class for both the students and the instructor.
In your discipline (i.e., Chemistry), what individual (or two or three) would you most like to spend a day with so you could pick their brain? (You can choose someone no longer walking the planet…)
Because of my training and background, I identify with a very inter-disciplinary range of subjects. Even though I’m a chemist, I would have to say David Lilley, Professor of Molecular Biology at University of Dundee in the UK.
What is your favorite food?
There is no question about this one – chocolate chip cookies, hands down! More specifically, Alton Brown’s chewy chocolate chip cookies! Adding nuts only ruins them.
What is your favorite all-time movie (or two)?
I really haven’t spent much time watching movies for a number of years, but I am quite partial toward Star Wars, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
What is your favorite hobby/past-time activity?
I enjoy building things and working on genealogy. Unfortunately, I have been unable to put much time into either of these since starting at Rio Grande because I’ve been too consumed with work.
If you were not a “Chemist”, what would you like to do as a profession—disregarding whether it paid more or less than what you are making now?
I’m really not sure, but my wife insists that I would have been a permanent student.
Describe the one aspect of teaching you like the least. (Preparing exams and/or quizzes? Grading? Preparing a syllabus? Developing a new course? Lectures? Labs? Other?)
I most dislike grading lab assignments and reports. I would prefer to just be able to work with the students in the lab and have someone else grade the papers from it.
What century did your earn your B.S. degree?
It was in the 20th Century
What set of circumstances resulted in your becoming a Chemist?
For whatever reason, I had a growing affinity to the sciences throughout middle school, so I participated in a summer math and science camp at Clemson University the summer after my freshman year of high school. At the camp, I took a chemistry course and an anatomy course. My affinity to the sciences continued to grow throughout high school. Even though I went to a relatively small high school, I had really good math and science teachers, allowing me to take a lot of non-traditional high school courses – analytical geometry & trigonometry, biochemistry, microbiology, and embryology & genetics to name a few. My chemistry and physics teacher was one of my more entertaining teachers, so that just fostered my interest in chemistry.
If you could choose to live anywhere else on this planet (i.e., not counting Rio Grande), w here would it be and why?
My wife and I don’t always agree on many things, but we do both love the US Virgin Islands. I would have to say that is my choice.
Identify one “thing” from “the good old days.”
I was a band geek in high school, and we had a very serious corps-style, competition marching band. Band was such a big part of my life in high school, I still find myself occasionally missing it.
What is your favorite quote?
Many of my colleagues have very thoughtful, meaningful quotes to write as an answer for this question. I, on the other hand, have never really subscribed to these kinds of quotes – mainly because I’ve never been much on reading and literature. The best I can offer are a number of one-liners from Monty Python and the Holy Grail or from any number of Mel Brooks’s movies. Many of these, however, would not be suitable for printing here.