Teacher Feature: Dr. Jack Williams

Ethan Magoc photo: Dr. Jack Williams at work in the Chemistry lab.Ethan Magoc photo: Dr. Jack Williams at work in the Chemistry lab.Jack Williams, Ph.D., claims that exciting things happen in the Mercyhurst Chemistry Department.

“I’m learning all of the time,” Williams said.

The chemistry professor enjoys working at Mercyhurst for many reasons, including the great equipment, small classes and student-faculty interaction. His favorite aspect of teaching though, is the research.

Williams studies a variety of subjects in the laboratory, such as the different compounds in coffee beans from different countries, or the variety of defense mechanisms of plants.

Williams received his doctorate in organic chemistry from Villanova University. He taught at both Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Mercyhurst community in 1976.

Williams currently conducts research in the areas of natural products and forensics while teaching courses in Organic Chemistry, Spectral Interpretation, Principles of Chemistry and Forensic Chemistry.

“Mercyhurst didn’t used to have such an interest in research,” Williams said. “It sharpens my teaching skills.”

According to Williams, he can get excited about the research and bring that excitement into the classroom. He finds the research stimulating for professors and students alike.

In his classes, Williams emphasizes how a piece of information is useful to a student’s prospective major. He believes that it is important to teach the applications of knowledge in order to make the information interesting to students.

Like many Mercyhurst professors, Williams also teaches transferable skills. His students can expect to learn about critical thinking skills, and deductive reasoning in addition to their chemistry curriculum.

Williams thinks highly of the chemistry department.

“The bottom line is that you can get a job,” he said. “If you like chemistry, there are so many things you can do with it.”

A chemistry degree allows a student to be flexible. A chemistry major might study computational, forensic, organic, inorganic, synthetic or some other branch of the discipline. Once students graduate, they can pursue careers in anything from the drug industry to petroleum companies.

In his free time, Williams also has an interest in gemology, in which he also holds a degree, and music. He used to play an oboe in an orchestra and enjoys the performances of John de Lancie.