Neil Fitzgerald is a chemistry professor and the Assistant Dean of Science at Marist. He has worked at Marist for 16 years and teaches Analytical Chemistry, Introduction to Research Methods in Chemistry, as well as General and Environmental Chemistry. He also teaches a few study abroad classes for students participating in the summer attachment program in Europe.
Can you tell me a bit about the attachment program?
Last summer I taught Chemistry of Fine Art in conjunction with an art professor. We went to London and Paris. We take the chemistry students abroad for a few weeks so they get that worldly experience. I also used to teach Environmental Chemistry abroad.
What is your background?
I got my undergraduate degree and Master’s degree in England, and then I came over to America to go to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts because they offered me four years of funding. I got my Ph.D. there, also got engaged while I was there, and then I ended up getting married and moving to New York City for a year under a student visa, which allows you to work for a year as long as you’re doing something related to your major, so I ended up taking a one-year teaching position and staying with it. I liked teaching but I didn’t like the city, so I moved up here.
What do you like about working here?
Marist has always been very innovative. I’ve been able to develop new courses, try new things, and they’ve always been very supportive of that. When I started here, we were able to completely revamp the curriculum and we also renovated the lab, so it was a great time to start in terms of development.
Does the department have any exciting things happening?
We have made some curriculum changes. The Research Methods course is now our capping course, which involves research, ethics, teamwork, etcetera. We’re also developing a Computational Chemistry course, which is exciting and slightly more relevant to what we teach than the Core technology class. We’ve also been trying to make it easier for our students to study abroad by developing attachment courses and things like that.
Do your students typically intern anywhere?
Internships are usually voluntary for our students, whereas research is required. But a lot of students do like to take advantage of internships, for example, I have a student down at Mill Street Brewery right now doing quality control in terms of chemistry and microbiology. We have another student working at Smith Environmental Lab doing water analysis.
What advice do you have for students coming in who are interested in Chemistry?
Well, my advice for any student would be to get to know your professors and develop a relationship with them. That’s for any department. But for our department, our students are required to do some sort of research whether it’s for the BA or the BS, so it’s good to have a relationship already in place with your potential advisers.
Written by Shannon Donohue '17
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Academic School: Science
Campus: New York