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March 11, 2013

Science on Tap talk to feature offbeat talk on world of scientists

Dor Ben-Amotz

Dor Ben-Amotz
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University chemist will give an insider's view of the unbelievable and sometimes crazy world of science in an offbeat version of the next Science on Tap on March 21 in Lafayette.

Dor Ben-Amotz, a professor of chemistry and a 2012 winner of a Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award at Purdue, will speak at 6 p.m. in the upstairs of the Lafayette Brewing Company, 622 Main St., Lafayette.

The talk is titled "That's Unbelievable: Crazy Stories about Scientists." The event is free and open to those 21 and older. The Purdue Department of Chemistry is sponsoring the talk.

As a scientist, Ben-Amotz said it is his job to discover surprising things about how the world works. While doing that, he said he has learned about some "crazy stuff" that has happened to other scientists.

"I have personally benefited quite a bit from these stories. I have also tried some of them out on my students at Purdue - and they didn't seem to mind that too much," he said. "My hope is that the deeper meaning and significance of these unbelievable true tales might better be appreciated over beer. Isn't that what Science on Tap is all about?"

Ben-Amotz has made it a mission to help students understand the intricacies of physical chemistry, especially those who might be struggling, reminding them that they're not alone. In his textbook, "Understanding Physical Chemistry," he reveals the personal perspectives and early conceptual struggles of scientists such as Albert Einstein, Ludwig Boltzmann and Josiah Willard Gibbs - each of whom became pioneers in the field.

Ben-Amotz's personal approach to teaching, his energy and his enthusiasm extend even beyond the classroom. Since beginning his career at Purdue in 1989, he has mentored and provided hands-on research opportunities to more than 40 undergraduate students.

His insights into teaching effectiveness have benefited more than just his own classes. As head of the Department of Chemistry's physical chemistry division, Ben-Amotz has helped with the evaluation and mentoring of junior faculty members, and he has worked to implement undergraduate curriculum changes.

Ben-Amotz received his bachelor's degree from Bennington College, his master's degree from Brandeis University and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986. He served as a postdoctoral fellow for Exxon Corp. Research Laboratory from 1986-89.

The Science on Tap lecture series, led by Purdue graduate students Patrick Dolan and Becca Scott and postdoctoral student Shaili Sharma, provides Purdue faculty and collaborating researchers the opportunity to share research activities in an informal setting, with presentations that are designed to appeal to a more general audience.

Attendance at the monthly event has averaged 80 during the program's first two years.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Dor Ben-Amotz, 765-494-5256, bendor@purdue.edu

Patrick Dolan, 765-496-9336, pdolan@purdue.edu

Related website:
Discovery Park