The most important thing a teacher can do is be supportive. College can be stressful. Sometimes you hit a roadblock and don’t know what to do. I want to help students get through those rough patches.

Hasan Arslan

At the smallest level of all things is chemistry, and that reality draws Professor Hasan Arslan to his field.

"It's such a fundamental science that helps us understand life around us," Arslan says. "We know a lot for sure, but we still have a lot to learn about how chemical bonds form and break, and affect life processes. But that's how we'll eventually find cures for the diseases we still struggle with."

Arslan's research in supramolecular chemistry focuses on making molecules fit together to build molecular systems.

"Think of a ring you put on your finger," he says. "If it's too small, it won't fit. If it's too large, it won't stay on. With molecules, the host molecule must be a complementary size for the guest molecule. My research looks into those interactions to understand the binding forces and how we can improve them for useful applications."

Supramolecular chemistry is an emerging field, putting Arslan's research in the vanguard. He's also excited to work on conductive polymers, a specialized class of materials that have applications in lightweight and flexible electronics.

Arslan knows not all his students will pursue chemistry careers. But he wants students to understand how chemistry affects their lives and the scientific process. Teaching is also a way to give others what his best teachers gave him.

"A lot of my motivation comes from key teachers and mentors who helped me," he says. "They did so altruistically and without a lot of expectation for me to give anything back. I like that aspect of teaching.

"The most important thing a teacher can do is be supportive. College can be stressful. Sometimes you hit a roadblock and don't know what to do. I want to help students get through those rough patches."

Posted Oct. 6, 2017