Carnegie Mellon University

Leonard Vuocolo

Leonard Vuocolo

Associate Teaching Professor, Chemistry

  • Doherty Hall 2114
  • 412-268-7033


Ph.D. in Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, 2000


Areas of Specialty

Effective Use of Technology/Software at the introductory level; contextual approaches to general chemistry; implementation of green chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry in the undergraduate curriculum; interdisciplinary experiments between chemistry and engineering; interdisciplinary courses between chemistry and non-science and non-engineering programs, peer learning techniques, advising effective recitation instruction, academic and career advising.

Educational Interests

My introductory courses focus on a “concepts first, numbers next” approach to learning. I integrate activities and software that encourage students to apply concepts to new and/or practical situations and to derive new concepts from those they currently know. I have worked with our Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence on research to measure technology’s impact on learning gains and retention.

The 09-111 Nanolegos course introduces “problem- or context-first" before applicable chemical concepts on an as-needed basis. It is structured around phenomena relevant to modern society, research, and technology rather than the conceptual tools (i.e. systems- or application-, rather than content-driven). I am interested in taking this approach to our mainstream introductory lecture and laboratory courses.

Recently I have been participating with the Eberly Center in a research project implementing specifications grading, which de-emphasizes traditional, points-based grades. In this grading of assessments, students receive “satisfactory” (meaning they have met all the expectations for that assignment) or “not satisfactory”. Final course grades are then based on numbers of “satisfactories” students get across assessment categories. We are interested in determining whether a specifications grading system leads to improved outcomes in student learning/performance and attitudes/perceptions.

I am also interesting in offering non-majors courses involving chemistry in fitness and the use of chemical analysis in quality control and the categorization of various foods of Italian culture.


Years Position
2017–present Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2009–2017 Assistant Teaching Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2005–2009 Special Lecturer in Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2000–2005 Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Allegheny College

Awards and Distinctions

Years Award
October 2007 and 2009 Co-recipient of the Carnegie Mellon Panhellenic Role Model Award.
June 1999 Co-recipient of the 1999 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (In recognition of contributions made to the development of Professor Terrence Collins’ “TAML™ Catalytic Oxidant Activators: General Activation of Hydrogen Peroxide for Green Oxidation Technologies”)
April 1999 Carnegie Mellon University Graduate Student Teaching Award
April 1998 Mellon College of Science Graduate Student Teaching Award
April 1995 Department of Chemistry Graduate Student Teaching Award

Teaching Interests

Course number Course title
09-101 Introduction to Experimental Chemistry
09-105 Introduction to Modern Chemistry I
09-106 Modern Chemistry II
09-111 Nanolegos: Chemical Building Blocks
09-202 Undergraduate Seminar II: Safety and Environmental Issues for Chemists
09-221 Laboratory I: Introduction to Chemical Analysis