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Vlad Kumirov

Instructor

Degrees and Appointments

  • B.S. 2010, University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. 2016, University of Arizona
Instructional Staff

My Background

I have spent the past decade using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to study the structure, interaction and dynamics of molecules ranging from 50 to 50,000 Daltons in size. As an undergraduate, I used 2D NMR to study how various solvent conditions would affect the structure and dynamics of peptides and other small molecules. In graduate school I studied protein evolution, using 3D NMR to probe for structural changes as the sequence of an ancetral protein is mutated towards its descendant. During a brief postdoc, I have worked on optimizing a 4D NMR pulse sequence to study interactions within large protein systems, before returning to UA to pursue my passion for teaching. In my training as an NMR spectroscopist, I have experienced the different approaches taken by organic chemists and structural biologists. Now as an instructor and an assistant staff scientist at the NMR facilty, I aim to share these skills by teaching hands-on NMR courses and providing guidance to our researchers.

Teaching

CHEM 545 - a course for graduate students that aims at teaching lab techniques, as well as interpretation of NMR spectra of small molecules typically encountered in synthetic organic research labs. Students learn how to independently collect, process and analyze 1D and 2D NMR data (1H, 13C, DEPT, HSQC, COSY, HMBC, NOESY) using MestreNova. There is a strong emphasis on analysis of J-coupling and chemical shift to extract structural information.

CHEM 447 - a course for undergraduate students that aims at teaching NMR data interpretation and how to communicate their findings effectively. Students learn how to collect and analyze 1D and 2D NMR data using MestreNova. Students study unknown samples of increasing complexity, using different strategies to overcome the various challenges presented. There is a strong emphasis on creating publication-quality figures used in lab reports and presentations to effectively communicate their findings with their peers.

I also have experience teaching large General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry classes.

Approach to Teaching

My approach is to provide as much "real science" experience as possible in my courses. All of the data are real and not hypothetical, and while two students may have the same data, they might also have different interpretations. Students tend to think that there is one correct answer and that it is found in the textbook or known only by the teacher. I encourage students to discuss their findings with each other, to share their different viewpoints, and to not be afraid to change their mind based on new insight or feedback. I also incorporate literature search, communicating through high-quality figures, and in-class peer review and oral presentations in my undergradute course to remind the students that science is made of a community of people building upon each other's ideas through open communication, and not some "master scientist" that holds all of the answers.