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Katherine Aubrecht, Associate Professor


B.A. Reed College, 1992
M.S. Cornell University, 1996
Ph.D. Cornell University, 1999
Postdoctoral Fellow University of Minnesota, 1999-2001

407 Chemistry
Phone: (631) 632-7901

Chemical Education

Sustainability Education. Beyond the principles of Green Chemistry, how should chemistry students think about sustainability? What awareness should students have of the impact of anthropogenic chemical processes on the environment and the potential of chemistry to contribute to solutions to the great challenges we face? What awareness should students have of the human and social aspects of science and technology? We have developed learning materials addressing sustainability for undergraduate chemistry courses and for high school students. 

STEM Knowledge Integration. Undergraduate STEM students typically take courses in several science disciplines, with the expectation that they will be ably to apply concepts and skills learned in one discipline to courses in other disciplines. What challenges do students face in doing this? What connections do students see between their STEM courses? In the absence of integrated science curricula, which are logistically challenging, what practices will support students in transferring concepts?  What is the role of  students' metacognitive awareness and skillfulness? 

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education.  How can students' systems thinking skills be fostered and assessed, particularly in foundational chemistry courses?


Sustainable Materials

I am interested in the development of new biodegradable and/or biorenewable polymers as alternatives to petroleum-derived commodity polymers. Potential renewable feedstocks for new materials include plant oils, algal oils, chitin (from crustacean shells), and alginates (from seaweed). Additionally, we are studying the (bio)degradation of polymers in marine waters and sediments.

Selected Publications

Aubrecht, K. B. Information Literacy and Science Communication in Undergraduate Courses That Connect Chemistry to Sustainability. In Chemistry Education for a Sustainable Future, Volume 2: Innovations in Undergraduate Curricula; Obare, S.; Middlecamp, C. H.; Peterman, K. E., Eds. ACS Symposium Series 1345, American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2020, pp. 1-14.

Aubrecht, K.B.; Bourgeois, M.; Brush, E. B.; MacKellar, J.; Wissinger, J. E. Integrating Green Chemistry in the Curriculum: Building Student Skills in Systems Thinking, Safety, and Sustainability. J. Chem. Educ. 2019, 96, 2872-2880. 

Aubrecht, K.B.; Dori, Y. J.; Holme, T. A.; Lavi, R.; Matlin, S. A.; Orgill, M. K.; Skaza-Acosta, H. Graphical Tools for Conceptualizing Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education.  J. Chem. Educ. 2019, 96, 2888-2900.

Aubrecht, K. B. Teaching Relevant Climate Change Topics in Undergraduate Chemistry Courses: Motivations, Student Misconceptions, and Resources . Curr. Opin. Green Sustain. Chem. 2018, 13, 44-49.

Aubrecht, K. B.; Padwa, L.; Shen, X.; Bazargan, G. Development and Implementation of a Series of Laboratory Field Trips for Advanced High School Students To Connect Chemistry to Sustainability. J. Chem. Educ.  2015, 92, 631-637.

Yang, R.; Su, Y. Aubrecht, K. B.; Wang, X.; Ma, H.; Grubbs, R. B.; Hsiao, B. S.; Chu, B. Thiol Functionalized Chitin Nanofibers for As(III) Adsorption. Polymer  2015, 60, 9-17. 

Yang, R.; Aubrecht, K. B.; Ma, H. Wang, R.; Grubbs, R. B.; Hsiao, B. S.; Chu, B. Thiol-modified Cellulose Nanofibrous Composite Membranes for Chromium (VI) and Lead (II) Adsorption. Polymer   2014, 55, 1167-1176. 

 Cai, Y.; Aubrecht, K. B.; Grubbs, R. B. Thermally-induced Changes in Amphiphilicity Drive Reversible Restructuring of Assemblies of ABC Triblock Copolymers with Statistical Polyether Blocks. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 1058. 

Robert, J. L.; Aubrecht, K. B. "Ring Opening Polymerization of Lactide to Form a Biodegradable Polymer: an Organic Chemistry Laboratory" J. Chem. Educ.   2008, 85, 258.

Wiberg, K. B.; Hintz, W.; Jarret, R. M.; Aubrecht, K. B. "Conformational Preferences for 1,2- and 1,4-Difluorocyclohexane" J. Org. Chem.   2005, 70, 8381.

Aubrecht, K. B.; Grubbs, R. B. "Synthesis and Characterization of Thermoresponsive Amphiphilic Block Copolymers Incorporating a Poly(Ethylene oxide-stat-Propylene oxide) Block" J. Polym. Sci., Part A: Polym. Chem.  2005, 43, 5156.