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Professor Kolack came to QCC after 13 years at The Cooper Union as well as time at St. Joseph's College, Yeshiva University, and Hunter College. The editor of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, Professor K has more than 25 years of college teaching experience and a highly eclectic background including 10 years as a firefighter/EMT, licenses for New York City taxi, ambulance, fire truck and helicopter, professional puppeteer experience, training as a fire eater, he competed at the Olympic level in smallbore rifle, and he really enjoys indoor skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Dr. Kolack also wrote and starred in “The Professor K Show,” a topical, environmental educational TV program. Dr. Kolack and his wife Diane (a graduate of the CUNY Baccalaureate in Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies program), live in Queens with their son Teddy and their dog Queso Blanco.
My goals in teaching are to enable students to understand the material and put it into practice in the laboratory, to help them improve their ability to communicate their understanding to peers and others, and to encourage them to use their education as a springboard for furthering a critical understanding of the world.
Over my 25+ years in the classroom and laboratory, and long before "student-centered learning" became a pedagogical catchphrase, I have endeavored to produce an interactive environment that is more than a teacher-centered lecture. Despite the challenges in maintaining this environment while instructing 250 students at once in a large lecture hall (which we do not use in the chemistry department at QCC), as opposed to the small seminar classes, laboratories and one-to-one tutoring sessions I’ve held, based on written evaluations, through my use of technology, real-world examples, and topical references, and by asking questions to be answered orally and in writing during each class, I have been successful in my goal.
Through the Echols Scholar program during my undergraduate years at The University of Virginia, I was able to design my own course of study, enabling me to couple a BS in Chemistry with economics, philosophy, and advanced studies in Eastern Religions. (My wife was fortunate enough to take part in a similar program at CUNY, and I strongly encourage QCC students interested in such a program to discuss CUNY BA with me.) I continued my multidisciplinary studies in graduate school at Indiana University, transitioning from my organic undergraduate major (with a medical school organic chemistry undergraduate research project and a physical chemistry senior thesis) to an inorganic Ph.D., while also auditing courses in Tibetan language and patent law, becoming a firefighter-EMT-Hazardous Materials Technician and firefighter instructor, and taking performance classes in New York and Chicago. In my first class every semester, I encourage my students to really question why they have chosen their course of study, and how it could be better tailored to suit their needs. My aim is for them to learn something, rather than for them to view their classes as merely a means to an end, or their grades as the product they purchase with their tuition.
Especially in my laboratory courses, I have the reputation for pushing students to challenge themselves with written assignments, as I firmly believe that in our culture, how your ideas are expressed is often (for better or worse) of equal importance to their content. In small seminar classes and labs, I am also able to have students describe topics and techniques orally, for which there is no better substitute to gauge full understanding of the material.
I am a strong believer in the use of technology in the classroom, and make extensive use of cutting-edge instructional techniques in my lecture courses.
OpenStax Chemistry, P. Flowers, et.al. (K. Kolack- Peer Reviewer), https://openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/chemistry, 2015.
Chemistry in Context, ACS (K. Kolack- Peer Reviewer), 2000.
Structural and Magnetochemical Properties of Mono-, Di-, and Trinuclear Manganese(III) Dithiolate Complexes, J.L. Seela, M.J. Knapp, K.S. Kolack, H-R. Chang, J.C. Huffman, D.N. Hendrickson, G. Christou, Inorganic Chemistry, 1998, 37(3):516-525.
Reactions of nickel(II) with 8-hydroxyquinoline salts: Structural and magnetic properties of novel cubane and trinuclear nickel aggregates, K.S. Kolack, D.N. Hendrickson, Z.M. Sun, J.C. Huffman, K. Folting, W.E. Streib, G. Christou, Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society, 1997; 213:471-INOR.
From biochemistry to molecular materials: a new perspective on transition metal carboxylates, K.S. Kolack, Ph.D. Thesis, Indiana University, 1997.
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