Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blog Challenge #2: Amber Latona

For this blog challenge, I interviewed Dr. Wheeler.


Ralph A. Wheeler, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Chemistry and Bochemistry
Mellon 308

Below are a list of the questions I asked him.

1.) Where did you attend high school?
2.) Where did you attend college? Graduate school?
3.) Intended major?
4.) What do you like most about working here at Duquesne?
5.) If you could offer anyone advice/words of wisdom, what would it be?
6.) Describe a time when things were not working out in your favor and what you did to overcome it.
7.) One word to describe yourself.
8.) Long term goals? (5-10 years)
9.) Proudest Achievement?
10.) Was there a specific person in your life/career path who has made a difference?
11.) Biggest fear?
12.) One thing about yourself that others would be surprised to know.
13.) If you won the lottery, how would you use the money?
14.) What do you like to do in your spare time/for fun?
15.) How do you handle stress/pressure?

    Dr. Ralph A. Wheeler grew up in the hometown of Tucson, Arizona where he attended a small high school while taking on challenging courses at a young age. He then graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Harvey Mudd College which was a school for only science and engineering. Dr. Wheeler then went on to earn his PhD in Applied Theoretical Chemistry from Cornell University. Dr. Wheeler worked with Professor Andy McCammon at the University of Houston as a post doc for two years before he then taught at the University of Oklahoma in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for 20 years. He then moved to Duquesne University where he now serves as Chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. Dr. Wheeler has always been interested in science, however, he intended on becoming a Chemical Engineer, until Theoretical Chemistry sparked his attention. Dr. Wheeler's favorite thing about working here at Duquesne is the interaction with students. He loves to help and mentor whenever possible. If he could offer any words of advice to others, it would be "be creative and be persistent."  He therefore describes himself as someone who is persistent. He likes to describe himself as persistent because he never gave up in times of hardships. Dr. Wheeler grew up with a single/widowed mother at young age living with 7 siblings. He set his expectations high in order to graduate from college, etc. He mentioned some interesting facts about his mom in particular, (who he refers to as his hero and someone who has made a tremendous difference in his life). While telling me about his mother, I told him that she must have had a lot of determination and his reply was "My mom always told me 'I just did what I had to'...". I respected his response because I felt comfortable talking to him since we had similar lives growing up and dealing with hardships, but we always got through them with a little ambition, determination, and most importantly, PERSISTENCE. Dr. Wheeler also discussed a time in grad school when things were not working in his favor. He mentioned that can be a stressful time for grad students for multiple reasons. He mentioned that his PhD advisor was not around much and he would sometimes get frustrated if his research was not going according to plan. He pushed through it with his character trait "persistence" and also just determination and a positive mindset.
   Dr. Wheeler's long term goals include helping to build a nationally recognized science department here at Duquesne. His proudest achievement is being the first to graduate college and receiving his PhD in his family. Dr. Wheeler's biggest fear is not living up to his own expectations (which I would say is one of my own fears). Others would be surprised to know that Dr. Wheeler was once one of the Top 50 chess players in the country back in the day. If he had won the lottery, Dr. Wheeler said "I would invest and then give away the rest of the proceeds to charities close to heart."  In Dr. Wheeler's spare time, he enjoys dancing and working out and he often deals with stress by engaging in those activities along with setting aside time to clear his mind! *

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