Contact107E Chevron Science Center
Department of Chemistry Chevron Science Center 219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
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Dr. Wagner joined our faculty in the fall of 2000 to teach in the General Chemistry Program. He was awarded a B.S. from Illinois State University and work in industry for several years as a Plastics Engineer before returning back to ISU to obtain an M.S. in Chemistry. He went on to the University of Florida where he was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry and did his post-doc at Wake Forest University. Dr. Wagner now teaches in the physical and general chemistry undergraduate programs and is the Director of the Physical Chemistry Laboratories.
Alternative Fuels Research
Interest in using unaltered vegetable oil as a fuel in diesel engines has experienced an increase due to uncertainty in the crude oil market supply and the detrimental effects petroleum fuels have on the environment. Unaltered vegetable oil blended with petroleum fuels is less expensive, uses less energy to produce and is more environmentally friendly compared to petroleum diesel or biodiesel. Our ultimate long range goal is to create practical, economical, and environmentally friendly biofuels by blending waste vegetable oil (WVO) with other petroleum fuels. While using neat vegetable oil makes it easier to control oil physical properties, the cost is greater than obtaining WVO and processing it to remove particulates and water. Further, using WVO eliminates the debate and concern over using these resources for food versus fuel and provides a means to recycle a waste product.
Chemical Education Research - Standards-Based Instruction
Traditional chemistry teaching typically relies heavily on lecture in which the presentation of chemical concepts and equations are scribed, memorized, and reproduced by students. A Standards-Based approach to instruction includes, but is not limited to, the incorporation of inquiry, reflection, critical discourse and collaborative learning experiences. In such an environment, chemistry instructors become facilitators, helping students in the construction of their knowledge instead of dispensers of facts and concepts. In addition, the traditional lecture becomes a student-centered environment. The major goal of this work is to develop and implement a curriculum and an approach to teaching chemistry that is aligned with the National Science Education Standards. The NSES have been shown to have a significant and positive affect on student performance and attitude when it is implemented into the curriculum.