DR. ARTHUR MAR, CHEMISTRY
Were you always interested in science? What was the turning point for you?
To be honest, I was actually very bad at math in grade school. I remember during math class when we had to recite the timetable, I would use a small cheat sheet in my table drawer so then I could follow with the class. For this reason, I wanted to improve my mathematical skills and decided to study harder. This was an important turning point because mathematics is a strong skillset to have in order to be a proficient chemist.
I also recollect having a post-secondary teacher who taught in an unstructured, unique way: he would not take notes or give conventional lectures, but instead, would challenge us to think about the concepts we learned. He taught us at an early age to challenge the things we learned and to try to expand our knowledge from outside the classroom.
What are the ups and downs of being a faculty professor?
You get to meet interesting people from a wide variety of cultures which can be very memorable. It’s also great because there’s not a set authority who dictates when you should come into your office, how long you should be present for, etc.
A downside to the job is having the pressure to publish and to get grants, but these factors have not been too much of a concern for me over the past years.
Where are some of the places you’ve gone to / interesting people you’ve been throughout your career?
I’ve been to many parts of Europe such as France and Ukraine, as well as parts of Asia. Every year, I meet interesting people: whether it is in the classroom lecture setting or in my own lab, there is always intriguing conversations to have.
You have a strong history of teaching: what do you think is one teaching strategy that is effective?
I’ve been told that my notes and the way I teach is very organized: this could be part due to my teaching style or to my personality. Moreover, I think that having genuine concern for your students’ success is a vital trait. Once you establish interpersonal connections with the students you teach, they feel motivated to work hard not just for their own successes, but also as a way to express gratitude to their professors.
If you had to give one advice to a student interested in pursuing a career in the STEM field, what would it be?
Challenge yourself. Challenge what’s being taught to you and don’t feel afraid to speak out even if it acts against conventional topics that you’ve been taught - and that includes challenging the professors if need be!