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November 3, 2020

Dr. Danielle Zurcher, a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, has taught at UNC for 3 years. She has conducted several impressive projects, including the development of a first-year seminar on the role of plastic in society. As she designed the course, she collaborated with several undergraduate students to guide the class’ structure based on their own learning experiences. She implemented creative hands-on activities and field trips into the course, with the goal of enhancing students’ interest and enthusiasm on the topic. She has also measured the perceptions of the chemistry department’s faculty on standardized large enrollment classes and analyzed whether or not the implementation of structured problem-solving recitations are affecting students’ perceptions of chemistry. In each of these projects, Dr. Zurcher strives to gain insight on the perspectives of both students and faculty members, hoping to maximize students’ learning and interest in chemistry.

Being a woman in science has not explicitly shaped Dr. Zurcher’s research, possibly due to the fact that she has always had strong female mentors. Though being a woman scientist has not directly influenced her work, the experiences she’s had with passionate female role models normalized being a woman in science and paved the way for her current position in the scientific community. She hopes that her presence in the classroom and the balance of her personal and professional goals can impact students pursuing a future in science. “I can show students that being a woman does not limit me in my role as a professor,” Dr. Zurcher stated. “By normalizing being a scientist while having a family, I hope I can impact how students see themselves and their future lives as scientists.”