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Chemistry Prof. & Student Co-Author Journal Article

Dr. Dan Zuidema, professor of chemistry, and chemistry major Lindsey Herndon ’17 recently co-authored “Using The Poisoner's Handbook in Conjunction with Teaching a First-Term General/Organic/Biochemistry Course,” an article published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Chemical Education.


The article chronicled a semester-long project aimed at increasing student interest and engagement in Zuidema’s Introduction to Chemistry course. During the semester, students were tasked with reading The Poisoner’s Handbook in addition to usual chemistry textbooks. The Poisoner’s Handbook chronicles poisonings from the early twentieth century and highlights the use of forensic chemistry in both the creation and detection of poisons. Zuidema and Herndon hoped that The Poisoner’s Handbook would increase student interest in the class material by demonstrating practical applications of the chemical reactions they studied.


“The course serves as both the first course for our Allied Health chemistry sequence and a core science course,” said Zuidema. “Our goal was that, through reading The Poisoner's Handbook, students would learn more about the origin of forensic chemistry in the historical context of the Jazz Age and the toxins that were often involved in poisonings near the beginning of the twentieth century.”


Herndon was tasked with data processing and had the opportunity to participate in the evaluation of student work—writing quizzes and surveys for students. She also created tables from some of the data, which Zuidema included in the final article.


“It was a really cool collaboration,” says Herndon. “It showed me a lot about how education and chemistry intertwine.”


In the exit survey for the course, many students expressed that they became more interested in chemistry as a result of The Poisoner’s Handbook.