We asked chemistry professor Christina Cooley a few questions to get to know her better.
by Susie P. Gonzalez
With parents who were college professors, chemistry professor Christina Cooley was destined to follow into the “family business” and wanted to do so as a child. Now at Trinity, she says she is enjoying her “dream job” teaching and listening to students.
What do you like most about teaching Trinity students?
My favorite part about teaching Trinity students is getting to know them personally and hearing their stories. I love interacting with students during lab classes (where we spend a lot of time together) and office hours. A lot of interesting and meaningful mentoring interactions happen in those contexts and it's just a lot of fun.
How do you motivate your students?
Organic chemistry is a tough subject, but I really try to make it engaging and fun to learn. I especially like to make connections to real life and bring the organic chemistry that is happening all around us and in our bodies to light.
What are some of your pre-class rituals?
I wouldn't say that I have a particular ritual as much as drinking some coffee, thinking through how I want to approach the material, and show up fired up and ready to go!
How did you get involved in your field of study?
I have loved science ever since I was a little kid, and always knew that I wanted to be a professor someday. I love chemistry and biology and feel that Organic Chemistry is a great bridge subject that sheds light on both worlds at the same time. It can be eye-opening to approach biological questions from a chemical mindset.
What is your favorite aspect of teaching? Least favorite? Why?
My favorite aspect of teaching is working with the bright, motivated Trinity students every day! My least favorite aspect has to be grading lab notebook pages and lab reports. However, it's a necessary evil.
Who inspires you? Why?
My parents inspire me. They are both professors and I grew up in academia with them as amazing role models. I always envisioned following in their footsteps someday and teaching here at Trinity is really my dream come true.
Favorite color? Why?
I don't really have a favorite color, I just enjoy bright colors of all types. I also think it's always fun to wear red.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Why?
Although I am positive I am currently in my dream job, I also think it would be very interesting to be a medical doctor. I would enjoy thinking about health and disease from a more holistic patient perspective rather than a molecular perspective. Plus, I would get to be around people all day!
What's your favorite expression? Least favorite expression? Why?
Expression could be interpreted a few different ways, but I will choose smile and frown. I smile a lot, and I love it when people are smiling, especially my little children. Of course I never want to see anyone frowning, especially my students.....unless it's a frown of intense concentration!
Favorite sports team? Why?
I would have to say the Stanford Cardinal. I went to Stanford for graduate school during a really fun era - the Jim Harbaugh / Andrew Luck / Richard Sherman rebuild of the football program. My husband interviewed the players and coaches on a weekly basis and we are now lifelong Stanford football fans.
What is your favorite word? Your least favorite word? Why?
I think my favorite word is "awesome" because I tend to use it all the time. My least favorite word is "can't" because I don't like to think anyone can't do anything - it's just a matter of trying hard enough and in the right way.
Where would you like to retire?
That feels like a LONG time away, but ideally somewhere warm. Hopefully there will be family nearby, but if not, then a fun vacation destination so everyone will always want to come visit!