The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Education Division has awarded a team led by Neil Garg, UCLA’s Kenneth N. Trueblood Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, a 2021 Horizon Prize for the creation of innovative chemical education resources that benefit how students, children and the general public learn organic chemistry.
Garg, the 2018 recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, has been getting large numbers of UCLA students to love organic chemistry for many years, and has won many awards for his teaching and research.
His web-based chemistry resources and apps include RSChemistry.com, which helps organic chemistry students master their assignments, and is free for non-commercial purposes, as is his QRChem.net, which has more than 60,000 users in nearly 150 countries; a free smartphone app called “Backside Attack” that teaches organic chemistry concepts; virtual reality chemistry; a series of organic coloring books to help children learn the wonders of organic chemistry, starting with this one and a Re(Activity) Book for children.
His co-authors on the coloring books include his daughters, Elaina and Kaylie, who are 14 and 9, and were 9 and 4 when they starting writing the first coloring book. All of the resources were created in collaboration with Garg’s former graduate school colleague and IT developer, Daniel Caspi.
The 2021 Horizon Prize also recognizes more than two dozen of Garg’s students and colleagues who worked with him on these educational resources.
“It is really unique that this is a team award. I think the world of the students and greatly value our partnership!” Garg said.
Those honored with Garg are, in alphabetical order, Alyssa Ayala, Daniel Caspi, Jason Chari, Izza Chatta, Jacob Dander, Johnny Dang, Evan Darzi, Elaina Garg, Kaylie Garg, Francesca Ippoliti, Tara Kappel, Andrew Kelleghan, Brian Lin, Matthew McVeigh, Milauni Mehta, Preeya Mehta, Melinda Nguyen, William Parsons, Stefan Prisacaru, Melissa Ramirez, Ernst Schmid, Shawn Schwartz, Nikhil Shah, Rishabh Shah, Emily Siegler, Justin Soffer and Julia Yuan.
Organic chemistry, the chemistry of molecules made up largely of carbon, has a major impact on our lives. Garg emphasizes its relevance and importance in his teaching and educational activities.
Garg, who last week won the 2022 Mukaiyama award from the Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan in recognition of his contributions to synthetic organic chemistry, shared his teaching secrets in this TEDxUCLA talk.