course
Organic Chemistry II BC3231

Apr 2021

For context: I'm a senior and a chemistry major in CC, I'm writing this a few years after taking orgo. Professor Merrer is easily one of the best STEM professors in all of Barnard and Columbia combined; the best professor I personally have had during all of my four years here. Her use of Sapling and her creation of handouts for EACH mechanism, yes each, is simply the best way to teach organic chemistry and I have no idea why no other professor does this. Well, actually I do, it's because creating handouts takes time and effort, which Dina does because she genuinely cares about her students succeeding, and I can't say the same about Columbia professors. She's also great about encouraging class participation: she asks the class low-baller questions and remembers faces and names really well when you answer those questions. She's got great handwriting and her trademark colored chalk is simply the best way to learn orgo visually. She also takes care to notice when the class does poorly on an exam: when we got a D average on the second midterm she made sure to go over concepts again in the next lectures before moving on. The only negative aspect I have to say is that she does seem very intimidating: she can be quite pointed and even though I ended up asking her for a letter of recommendation I still felt a little scared to email her each time lol. She doesn't have patience for lazy students. Two things I wanted to focus on in particular: her problem sets and her office hours. P sets: are incredibly helpful, because she usually assigns extra problems which you can save to study for midterms/finals, and she assigns you to a mandatory study group. Study groups in the class are picked randomly to submit the pset for grading, so you get practice doing all the problems but you don't have to stress every week about being graded. It's literally the most effective learning process ever, she's absolutely brilliant for coming up with it. Office hours: she answers questions very thoughtfully and concisely during office hours. She hosts more during midterm weeks or when she can tell the class is struggling. If no one comes, or if everyone in the office wants to work on the same problem, she allows you to solve the problem on the board and walk the others through your method, which gives YOU teaching practice and reinforces the material, or she'll allow you to work out with the other students what you're stumped on if you got the question wrong. Professor Merrer made orgo as painless as the subject can possibly be, was an entertaining and insightful lecturer, and gave ample study material to prepare everyone for the exams. I have no idea why anyone would take orgo at Columbia if their major allows them to take it at Barnard. I also have no idea why she and Rojas don't have gold nuggets on here. When I think of pedagogy, and the kind of professor I aspire to be, I think of no one, in my entire time at Columbia, other than Professor Merrer.

Mar 2021

Orgo is hard but I would give up my life for this man. That is all

Dec 2020

A king. He loves the subject matter and actually teaching his students, a surprisingly rare combo. He's a gifted professor and always seems to have the right words to say. He closed our class with a reading from one of his favorite books, and I think we all cried over Zoom because it was so moving. Orgo was hard but this class made it worth it.

Dec 2017

This course builds off the material from Organic Chemistry I. The topics are clearly explained in class and it's very manageable to keep up with the class as long as you do the homework assignments (compiled in online modules) for each class and try to review a little bit each week. Office hours are held in a group setting and are very helpful even if you do not have specific questions. Professor Rojas was always open to questions in class or in office hours.

Dec 2014

Professor Rojas is, hands down, the best teacher I have ever had in my life. I had him for both orgo 1 and orgo 2, and I feel so blessed to have had him for a whole year. First things first, he knew every single person’s name in a class of around 120 by studying the pictures on the courseworks roster. He also holds office hours every single day, where you just go through homework questions and he teaches you helpful tips for solving the problems and for studying, so I would DEFINITELY recommend going at least once a week, more around exam times. There is no textbook for this class, because Rojas writes all of his own problem sets and tests. The way he writes the test is that if you go through all the notes from lecture and all the assignments, you don’t need to study anything additional, which proved to be true! Before tests I just made review sheets for each reaction and redid all the assignments and I was fine! I got an A in orgo 1 and haven’t gotten my grade yet for orgo 2 but I did well on the tests and I feel good about the final. Plus, he is SO funny and tells lots of jokes, and also reads poetry and sings on a fairly regular basis, (he wore a turkey-hat on the class before thanksgiving). He started this video of the week thing during orgo 2, and he basically had videos made of him doing practice problems with the reactions we had just learned. These were VERY helpful because sometimes when you go over so many reactions in lecture, it can be hard to understand how to do the problems. Overall this class is AMAZING!!!

Jan 2005

If he knew how to use the technology to write on all 6 boards at the lecture hall, he'd be a great teacher. He wanders off sometimes, causing your notes to be a little messy, but if you follow him and take the text as your bible, you'll find learning orgo not too hard. You need a lot of self-discipline to get this, unless you are just an O chem genius.