New Faculty – Jimmy Brancho

Jimmy Brancho completed his Ph. D. in Chemistry at the University of Michigan in May 2017 and joined Sweetland’s faculty in September. He hopes to use his formal training as a scientist together with experience writing for a more public audience to encourage versatility in science writers.

He developed a voice for public-facing science communication during graduate school through independent experimentation. His chemistry blog Tree Town Chemistry featured articles about recent developments in chemistry, graduate student issues, and a monthly literature feature for each chemical discipline at Michigan. He contributed four articles to MiSciWriters and has worked for a year as an editor there. His science writing can also be found at Lateral magazine.

Jimmy’s dissertation work addressed storing solar energy with titanium dioxide chemically modified through a process called co-doping. Titanium dioxide is normally not great for storing solar energy because it doesn’t absorb visible light. After co-doping, the white material turns bright yellow and absorbs much more visible light. Jimmy’s focus was trying out new reactions to create co-doped titanium dioxide.

As a graduate student, Jimmy taught laboratory sections as well as Inorganic Chemistry discussions, both focused around team-based problem solving. He seeks to bring that experimental and collaborative spirit to his classes at Sweetland by getting students involved early and often in providing feedback on each other’s writing.

At Sweetland, Jimmy contributes to our capability to address the unique genre demands of academic science writing. He seeks to convey the importance of good compositional practice in science writing by framing papers and dissertations as communications to another person. More broadly, he wants to help students of the sciences develop the tools to participate in other spheres of communication that lie adjacent to academic science, such as science journalism and science policy. His interests for campus involvement outside the classroom include opportunities that encourage scientists to communicate outside traditional academic communities, view their writing as part of an ongoing and evolving dialogue, and foster political involvement.

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