Edward Valente | University of Portland

Edward Valente

Edward Valente Professor of Chemistry 

“I came to UP in 2009, after teaching at Mississippi College since 1983. My specialty is physical organic chemistry, which studies the mechanisms and structures of organic compounds. I work with a research group of five actively engaged undergraduate students. We synthesize new examples of the compounds, determine their structures, and study how readily they form cyclic structures, or rings. This is fundamental science — we study the system because it is at the frontier of this area of structural chemistry. It will further our general understanding of the structures and dynamics of open-cyclic systems.

Chemistry is known as the ‘central science,’ and knowledge of chemistry lays a firm foundation for advanced studies in any area of material science — biology, biochemistry, engineering, physics, and medicine. In my approach to teaching, I want students to understand and use the language of chemistry, learn its principles and applications, and then, with appropriate laboratory activities, attach their own experience to the theoretical concepts I present to them.

In carrying out a research project, it is important for students to appreciate that science is a human endeavor and a labor of mind and hands, but also that it is done in community. I am an over- shadowing presence early in a student’s project, and even though I step back as the skills of the student develop, I stay close enough to ensure that the collaborative nature of the work is always evident. The developing project also needs to be explained in light of the evidence gathered, and tested against what is known by others. That connection back to the corpus of what is known allows us to advance our knowledge of what is newly discovered.

I enjoy teaching and helping students discover their powers of logic, deductive reasoning, and argument, as well as working with undergraduate researchers who always bring their enthusiasm and interest to the lab and classroom.”

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