Andy A. Thomas
Andy Thomas was born in Oakboro, NC in 1988. He received both his B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with Prof. Craig A. Ogle. At UNCC he investigated the mechanisms of various organocuprate reactions, such as the conjugate addition, alkylation and allylation reactions. In 2011 he moved to the university of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to begin his Ph.D. with Prof. Scott E. Denmark. At UIUC he investigated the transmetalation step in the Suzuki-Miyaura reaction by characterizing pre-transmetalation intermediates.Upon completion of his Ph.D. in 2017 he began his NIH postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Prof. Stephen L. Buchwald. At MIT he designed new ligands for copper hydride catalyzed hydroamination reactions by using an combined computationally and experimentally informed process. In the Fall of 2020 Andy joined the chemistry faculty at Texas A&M University as an assistant professor. His research group focuses on using physical organic chemistry to develop new synthetic methods by investigating the chemical reactivity of highly reactive intermediates.
Outside of lab, Andy enjoys the adrenaline rush of riding fast motorcycles and scary movies. He is also an avid fisherman and among other things he enjoys playing retro videogames and going to the movies. He also enjoys spending time with his wife Kaylie and dog Max.
Teaching the Individual
A chemistry professor has three major objectives: (1) train the next generation of Ph.D. research chemists, (2) support students to achieve the goals they set for themselves, and (3) make meaningful scientific contributions to society.
My primary responsibility will always be to the education of my students. When a student joins my lab, we establish an apprenticeship agreement that clearly defines my expectations for them in becoming independent scientists. As adult learners, it is imperative that my students also define their own goals of the apprenticeship so that I may better provide the required support and resources necessary for their individual development. Students have diverse backgrounds with different experiences and skill sets; thus, it is my duty as a mentor to identify with the student areas of strength and weakness so that I can tailor their education and research experience accordingly. I believe this pedagogy is the best method for creating chemists who are not only well-rounded scholars, but generators of future science.
Particularly important at the graduate level is creating a space where students are allowed to both flourish and fail on their own. In order to grow into an independent scientist, students will need the freedom to explore their own ideas in a supportive environment. Part of being an excellent mentor is knowing when to step back and let the student take the lead. This process was important in my personal development as a chemist and has also allowed me to become a better mentor. The most rewarding part of being a chemist is mentoring younger students and watching as they mature into scientists. In my lab we have a formal mentorship program between experienced and novice students. I believe that creating a culture of mentorship not only creates an inclusive learning environment but is also ensures the propagation of our craft.