CLEMSON - Clemson University Alumni Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Melanie Cooper has been named to the inaugural class of American Chemical Society Fellows. Cooper was among 162 honorees who were chosen for excellence in their contributions and distinctive service to the society and to the broader world of chemistry.
Cooper's research has focused on the development of effective ways for students to learn science. One of the outcomes of her research is the development and assessment of evidence-driven, research-validated curricula. Chemistry, Life, the Universe and Everything (CLUE) is a new general-chemistry curriculum that uses the emergence and evolution of life as the scaffold to teach chemical principles. Cooper was awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $500,000 for a three-year project to develop CLUE. Cooper says many students do not have a deep understanding of fundamental chemistry principles and this does not prepare them for further study in chemistry or other areas like biological sciences.
Her research focuses on how students learn and develop the cognitive skills that will allow them to develop an understanding of chemistry concepts and problem-solving rather than relying on memorization and algorithms that are not transferrable to new situations. Her research has looked at problem-solving in a wide variety of areas, including laboratories and large-enrollment lectures.
Cooper received her bachelor's and master's degrees and Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, England. She carried out postdoctoral work in organic chemistry before turning to chemical education as her area of research. She joined the Clemson faculty in 1987 and also is interim chairwoman of engineering and science education.