Posted May 27, 2008

Chemistry's Spano named Honors Professor of the Year

Degrees: A.S. in engineering science, Middlesex County College, 1980; B.S. in engineering physics, Lehigh University, 1982; Ph.D. in chemistry, Princeton University, 1988

Classes created/most often taught at Temple: In addition to “Honors General Chemistry” I and II, “Physical Chemistry” I and II (undergrad), “Quantum Chemistry” (grad), “Molecular Spectroscopy” (grad), “Statistical Thermodynamics” (grad).

Scientist/chemist you most admire and why: “It’s hard to avoid the super luminaries like Einstein and Newton when responding to this question. However, I also have a tremendous admiration for Michael Faraday, who pioneered electrochemistry and electromagnetism among many other things. He had an incredibly inventive mind with an uncanny ability to appreciate a problem almost fully conceptually, unencumbered by complex equations. He predicted that light was an electromagnetic wave even before Maxwell developed his famous equations.”

Photo courtesy the Honors Program

Frank Spano, 2008 Honors Professor of the Year


Favorite quote: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is all comprehensible.” — Albert Einstein

Something no one would guess about me: “I used to be very much into weight lifting. When I was an undergrad at Lehigh University I took second place in an intramural weightlifting contest with a clean and jerk of 250 pounds. Now I have trouble rolling a 25-pound dumbbell across the floor.”

The most important lesson I’ve learned from a student/my students: “Patience. I am by nature a very impatient person, which was reflected by a tendency to move too quickly through the material when I first began to teach. Over the years my students have taught me to proceed in a more deliberate and measured fashion. Now I emphasize fundamentals and am less concerned with covering every last detail.”

Book I most recently read and liked: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Worst habit as a professor: “I have a habit of continually questioning even the most basic scientific principles. This in itself is a fine thing when you have time to work it all out — but 5 minutes before the start of class it can cause considerable stress!”

The thing I like most about Temple: “At Temple there are a number of students who are economically challenged, some of which are the first in their families to attend college. It is a wonderful privilege to be in a position to help guide and influence these students as they begin their career journeys. This is of course in line with the original mission of Temple University, as laid out by its founder, Russell Conwell.”

My favorite spot on campus: “My secret spot — which of course I cannot reveal. I also like strolling down Liacouras Walk.”

What advice would you give students?: “I would tell them to relax and enjoy learning — to nurture a passion for understanding how the cosmos works instead of obsessing about grades.”