Juha Siitonen

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Biography

Juha Siitonen is a Lecturer in Chemistry at Rice University. He was born and raised in the small village of Parikkala, Finland, and got interested in chemistry already in pre-school. During his teenage years Juha got drawn in particular to synthetic organic chemistry with its varied experimental techniques and logical nature. Before entering university, Juha worked as a high-school research intern at LUT University in the hydrometallurgy research group of Prof. Erkki Paatero and later took part in the 42nd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). He earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry focusing on natural product total synthesis from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland in 2018 under the tutelage of Prof. Petri Pihko with a research stay in the group of Prof. Peter Somfai at Lund University, Sweden. During his graduate studies Juha also completed a minor in university pedagogy and received a diploma for his work in developing university level chemistry education. Shortly after defending his Ph.D. Juha joined the group of Prof. László Kürti at Rice University as the 2019 Wiess Teaching Postdoctoral fellow. Since then he has worked at Rice both as a postdoctoral researcher and a lecturer. Juha’s research focuses on extremely concise total syntheses of polycylic natural products and related computational physical organic chemistry.

While at Rice, Juha has mainly taught organic chemistry at both undergraduate (CHEM319, CHEM211/213) and graduate levels (CHEM553) as well as general chemistry (CHEM122/124). Juha views his guiding, teaching and mentoring as a resource for the students to develop their theoretical, practical, metacognitive and social skills than merely as means of delivering information. He sternly believes true great teaching spends much more time considering what a student does rather than on what a teacher does. In his view all teaching should be open, pedagogically justified, scientifically top-tier and done students-first. This way we can train knowledgeable, inclusive and creative scientists to take on future’s challenges.

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