Gitner Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology: Past Awardees
2019 Gitner Award Winner
Associate Professor of Chemistry Rosina Georgiadis knows how vital hands-on training is to science. She also knows how long waits for access to limited lab instruments can bite into precious laboratory time. So, when designing her popular CH303 Instrumental Analysis lab course, she devised a solution to provide students the unlimited access and real-time feedback they need: cloud-based virtual machines (VMs).
An ardent champion of active learning, Professor Georgiadis partnered with instrument vendors and her college’s IT department in 2016 to “cloudify” complicated analytical instrument software directly onto students’ laptop computers. While earlier labs required ‘round robin’ shifts of timed experiments on sparse equipment, every student could now perform the same experiment during a laboratory period from their own computer, even when only one physical instrument was available. In 2018, Professor Georgiadis’ lab course put the technology to new use when it joined the Distributed Pharmaceutical Analysis Laboratory (DPAL) program. Through DPAL, BU undergraduates partner with international scientists to test the quality of medicines from countries where up to 30% of pharmaceuticals distributed are substandard or counterfeit. Using VMs, students can perform all laboratory analyses, collect and share meaningful data with other DPAL participants, and co-author reports to health authorities when low-quality medicines are discovered.
Professor Georgiadis’s innovation has drawn international attention, receiving coverage in Chemical and Engineering News and as the basis of an invited journal article and talk before the American Chemical Society. At BU, it is inspiring other chemistry faculty to investigate using virtual machines in their own classes. Writes one nominator, “This use of VM for instrument training has the potential to literally revolutionize the manner in which all science departments approach undergraduate training in their laboratory courses.”
Professor Georgiadis’s innovation eliminates barriers for students, empowering them as active learners in experiments that put their training into real-world practice. In the face of challenge, she has embraced technology to advance the art of teaching and connected students directly with the tools they’ll need to be successful scientists.