George M. Bodner
Education, Positions, Awards:
George Bodner was born (3/8/46) and raised within a half-mile of Kodak Park in Rochester, New York. In spite of this, he entered the State University of New York at Buffalo as a history-philosophy major. At SUNY he found, much to his amazement, that chemistry was fun and he changed his major (under the mistaken impression that jobs were easier to find as a chemist).
After a mediocre career as an undergraduate (B.S., 1969) he entered graduate school at Indiana University (Ph.D., 1972), undoubtedly on the basis of letters of recommendation. He apparently did well enough in graduate school as a double major in inorganic and organic chemistry to gain an appointment as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois (1972-75). His research interests at that time focused on the application of C-13 NMR spectroscopy to studies of the structure and bonding in organometallic complexes.
While at Illinois he made the mistake of professing total ignorance of biochemistry to one of his colleagues in that area. After a semester of intense study to relieve this obvious deficiency, he was asked to fill an appointment as a visiting professor in biochemistry for the summer of 1974. Having survived that, he was actually invited back for the summers of 1975 and 1976.
Two things became self-evident during his tenure at Illinois. He found that teaching was fun and he realized that his research could best be described as searching for definitive answers to questions that no one ever asked. When the time came to leave Illinois, he therefore took a job as two-thirds of the chemistry faculty at Stephens College - a women's college in Columbia, MO - where he lasted for two years (1975-1977), teaching general, organic, inorganic, and biochemistry.
In 1977, an opening in Chemical Education was advertised at Purdue University. He applied for the position and, much to their later chagrin, the faculty at that institution offered him the job. (They have since compounded their error by promoting him first to associate professor and then professor of chemistry and education.) He is the author of more than 80 papers and 30 books or laboratory manuals. He has been known to claim in public that his primary interest is in epistemology. His interests also include the development of materials to assist undergraduate instruction, research on how students learn, and the history and philosophy of science.