course
Organic Chemistry II

Nov 2019

Prof. Merrer is amazing! So, so smart and a great lecturer. It's definitely a hard class and requires lots of time, but she makes it worth it and somehow makes organic chemistry interesting and sometimes...fun? I'd recommend going to her office hours and/or a TA's office hours too. Sometimes she wears fun chemistry socks or t-shirts and shows us, and she's just an overall really supportive professor!

Nov 2019

Dina Merrer is a great lecturer. She paces well, her handwriting is drop-dead gorgeous, and she does a great job explaining concepts to students. Her fascination with college basketball comes through with her choice of teeshirts during office hours. I don't find her very condescending however it could be stressful and intimidating to talk to her during office hours since she is SO SMART. The downside is that her lecture notes only contain the EASIEST examples of synthesis/reagent problems... Her exams start out great (first midterm avg ~ 80) and go south from thereon (second midterm avg ~ 73; last year's midterm 3 avg was ~50). This was probably the aspect of her class I hated the most since it seems like she was deliberately trying to trip people up and lowering the average by always making one problem on the midterms impossible to do (unless your mom is the department chair of *insert Ivy league school*... and Dina is your family friend.... can't relate dude. And yes, I'm only making this reference because there was such a girl in my class). I also heard from the peer help room tutors that one year she legit forgot to curve the final grades of the class on excel after finals, so everyone got a B or below. :-( Also, to all the people who go to office hours just to show off how smart they are by discussing some entirely non-related shit such as the aromaticity of Paclitaxel, f you!! People who actually need help did not take time out of their life to come here to sit their on the cold hard floor and listen to your rant about how difficult your research project is for 20 minutes. Also, if you are stuck with her for 2 semesters of Orgo be sure NOT to throw away your notes and DOWNLOAD all of her coursework material onto a harddrive because she will not let you access it once the Orgo I final's over. Orgo II isn't at all the same but having those notes could be incredibly helpful.

Apr 2019

I almost never write a review, but felt compelled to in this case as the course has been retooled significantly since most of these reviews were written. Personally, I've had an amazing experience in Phillips's class. She's an excellent lecturer and clearly loves teaching... she brings a sense of fun to the material, even in what could be a very dry subject. She also clearly cares a great deal about her students and genuinely wants us to do well. She makes herself very available and compiles advice from former students on how to succeed in the class. It speaks to her dedication, in fact, that she's restructured the class in response to criticism. Yes, the workshop is now mandatory. The extra two hours may seem like a drag, but you'll never have to crack open a text book. The key to doing well in her class is attending every lecture, taking excellent notes, and really mastering the workshops. It's worth taking pictures of the workshop solutions on the board and studying them until you really get them...if you understand the workshop questions, you can expect to do very well on the tests. She also posts pasts exams and answer keys. Honestly, orgo is just a hard subject. It takes a lot of hours. But I don't think there are many teachers who are more passionate about the material or invested in their students than Phillips. She's a gem.

Apr 2019

I absolutely could not recommend a class more! There simply isn't a better way to study Orgo. Dr. Phillips is so thorough in her lectures and workshops, which are designed to keep you engaged and immersed in the material. These workshops work wonders! Not only do they expose you to different strategies and ways of thinking, but also they help you synthesize information so much better than psets do. Reactions that you learned say months ago only need a brush up before the exam if you do it right, because by the end of it you know (or could logically reason out) what happens and how it happens. And so, you can actually spend most of your energy making connections and practicing syntheses before exams (as opposed to memorizing a list of reaction schemes)! A lot of professors believe in simplifying difficult material and limiting what is expected of you; while I'm sure there's more to organic chemistry, Dr. Phillips generally does not believe in sacrificing nuance, and I really appreciate this. Does this leave you feeling overwhelmed at the end of class sometimes? Yes. But does it evolve the way you think about chemistry? Absolutely! I am taking orgo lab alongside (which is really fast paced and supposed to take a much deeper dive into certain reactions), and there is very little I need to do in terms of the actual chemistry, since Dr. Phillips' class is so thorough. What strikes me the most is how genuinely she cares about her students. Dr. Phillips knows everybody in class by name and takes the pains to check in on her students. She will really explain a concept over and over and in different ways during office hours (which are like three times a week!) when you don't get something. I always leave her office hours feeling more in control of the material. This class requires more effort than the other organic chemistry classes at Columbia, so if you are one who feels you can skip class, read the book and wing the exams, consider taking orgo with a different professor. if you are ready to put in the effort, I guaranty you will leave with a much more profound understanding of how molecules work, and that you will find Dr. Phillips refreshing and deeply inspiring.

Feb 2019

Professor Phillips is by far the best professor I had at Columbia. TAKE HER CLASS. This lady is passionate for teaching, she cares about her students, she knows YOUR NAME, she loves seeing you succeed, she cares about mental health, and she is as good at teaching as she is at listening. This class is tough - but organic chemistry is just not an easy subject. General chemistry at Columbia was actually more difficult for me than this class, and it is because I WANTED to learn. How can you make it easy? ORGANIZE YOURSELF. From day 1, you have to read what she posts on the class page - she explicitly tells you that the subject is not easy and that you will have to put the time and effort into it to obtain the grade you want. Professor Phillip's responsibility is to make her lectures as clear and as organized as she can, and she is successful in doing this. She interacts with her students throughout class, uses minimal PowerPoint, thoroughly explains what she is writing on the board, etc. What you need to do is RECORD THE LECTURES. LISTEN TO THE LECTURES. SIMPLY COPYING DOWN WHAT IS ON THE BOARD IS NOT ENOUGH. You have to get her WORDS down in your notes -- what she says is what she cares about. She literally tells you what you need to pay attention to in specific reactions/reagents/phenomena. In Gen Chem, yes - I needed the curve, and I appreciated that. And in Physics, I needed the curve too! But if you put EFFORT into this class, you will get the grade you deserve without ever needing the curve. ((I got B's in Gen Chem and Physics, yet I got A's and A+s in organic chem!)) Read the textbook if you have to (I sometimes did), get the Organic Chemistry as a Second Language book (this was amazing), make flashcards for reagents (but make sure you understand each and every one), read your notes over and over and over again AFTER you have gone over the recording and filled in the gaps in your notes, DO THE MULTIPLE PRACTICE EXAMS SHE GIVES YOU -- multiple times! -- and most importantly, GO TO WORKSHOP. Seriously, I don't know what this class would have been for me without the workshops. Phillips cares about these workshops because she has YEARS OF TEACHING EXPERIENCE that have shown her how necessary it is to develop problem solving skills in this class. The workshop questions make you think beyond what she teaches in lecture, and are way beyond what you'll get from textbook practice questions. Know these workshop questions, learn how to solve the problems head to toe and toe to head. Do them again on your own. Don't memorize the questions - LEARN the concepts. Pay attention to the CONCEPTS behind each questions -- THIS is what she cares about and THIS is what will be tested. If you cannot go to workshop because you have other commitments that week, be SURE you go to her office hours or discuss with other students. Orgo is PROBLEM SOLVING, not simple memorization. Professor Phillips will be available for you on an academic and personal level. She can be your professor as much as she can be your moral support when you need her to be. If you want to be MIA, that's fine too. She won't take it out on you because guess what...? Science is objective, not subjective. So even if you think you're not one of her favorites, that will not affect your grade. YOUR EFFORT will determine your grade. 1. attend every single lecture. 2. take THOROUGH notes - color code, highlight, RECORD the lecture and revisit your notes. 3. read the textbook if it helps. read your notes every single day. do practice problems on your own. 4. attend every single workshop session and be READY to work hands on - don't just fake your way through. that doesn't help you! 5. review workshop questions when you go back home. Redo them a week later. On exam week - do them again. 6. go to office hours - she will help you! 7. get involved - form study groups, make friends. 8. get the molecular structure set thingy! it helps at the beginning. 9. do ALL THE PRACTICE EXAMS! Multiple times. Time yourself if you have to. 10. TALK TO YOUR PROFESSOR. She sincerely wants to help! 11. with your wonderful notes - make 2 pages of CHEAT SHEETS that you will bring to the final exam. How good is that? But see... you have to have good notes in the first place :) 12. Get free tutoring through advising center if you have to! There are people who can help. 13. Your performance depends on YOURSELF! She gives you ALL the tools - you just have to use them. After taking her for Orgo I and II, I am a spoiled student. No other professor could compare to this woman. Pre-med? I know you care a lot about your grades. We all do. Trust me - she cares about pre-meds like they are her children. And if you put all the effort this class requires, you won't even need to open your MCAT Orgo book. I promise.

Nov 2018

Dr. Phillips is by far the best professor I have had at Columbia (and I've been here for 2.5 yrs now). She is caring, supportive, approachable and the best at translating complex concepts of organic chemistry into simple terms, that allows for understanding of the material to the degree that sticks and will be with you for a long time. She tells you everything about how to succeed in her class and if you just listen to her and follow her advice you will not only end up getting a good grade (if that's what you care about), but also obtaining the knowledge of organic chemistry in much more profound level than if you were to just read the textbook, or solve some generic problems. Her dedication to the material, class and students is very refreshing. She actually cares about you as an individual, rather than treating you as another blurred face in the audience. I hope if you are reading this, you can sort through the reviews of bitter, upset, entitled people who for some reason thought that they "deserved" a certain grade, even if they did not necessarily earned it with their performance on the exams (we all know who they are and we don't want to be them!). Give her a chance to make you fall in love with organic chemistry. I did, and I strongly believe that was the best decision I have ever made about choosing a professor at Columbia!

Aug 2018

This review is for post-baccs debating between Doubleday and Phillips (for Orgo I and II)... Long story short, if you have the time and don't get offended easily, take Phillips. If you want the same type of class setting like your first year (physics and gen chem, assuming you're on the traditional track), then take Doubleday. I took Phillips both semesters and I'm glad I did. She can be mean, but don't take it personally and you'll be fine. I know a lot of people didn't like her, but I left her class feeling like I really understood orgo and I appreciate the effort she put into teaching the class. If you're someone who likes to read the textbook and do end-of-chapter problems (aka doesn't go to class, reads from the textbook, likes to learn on their own), then I wouldn't recommend taking her class. Things to know off the bat: 1. She doesn't curve - plenty of other reviewers have mentioned that already and that still held as of last year (2017-2018) 2. She notices if you put in the effort like going to office hours, attending workshops (she takes attendance), or asking/answering questions on the Discussion section on Courseworks 3. If you want to save money, DON'T BUY THE TEXTBOOK - I did buy the "Orgo as a Second Language" book, but I only used it the first two weeks of class and then stopped. Phillips is a great lecturer, but has a VERY specific way of teaching and wants you to mimic her style. People complained a lot about this, but once you figure out how she words things and wants you to present them, you'll do fine. THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE TO GO TO WORKSHOPS. I cannot emphasize this enough. Yes, I would highly recommend going to lectures, but if you can't, go to the workshops and get lecture notes/recordings from a classmate. More on this below. Here's a list of things I did/recommend doing in order to do well - hope it helps: 1. Go to lectures and record them!! As in put your recording device on the front lecture table and hit Record. If you're in Havemeyer 309, the sound quality sucks if you record from your seat. If it's your first day, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you asking her first before you record because she has ripped people's heads off before for not asking. Also, she doesn't let you video record unless you have a legitimate reason. - This may seem excessive, but seriously, she says so much stuff in class that you'll miss because you're too busy scrambling to draw what she has on the board. You will be amazed at how much you missed. Luckily, one of our classmates uploaded the recordings and shared it with people who asked (with Phillips' permission, of course!!). There were classes where she whipped through the material and I got SO lost I just ended up focusing on drawing what she drew and then would relisten to the recordings after to fill in the gaps. - Word of (more) advice: If classmates do share recordings, it's pretty pointless if you don't have the mechanisms/drawings from lecture so make sure to either 1.) go to lecture and draw everything, or 2.) get lecture notes from someone. 2. Go to workshops and take notes - The first couple of workshops will be a HOT. MESS. Especially once you get to the reactions. She'll get annoyed and people will get flustered - do not let this get to you! Try to go up and do problems. Even if she makes you feel like an idiot, YOU ARE STILL LEARNING. I've been roasted after trying to explain a problem before, but then I never made the same mistake again. This is what I mean by not getting offended easily / taking things personally. Better to feel stupid during workshops than during an exam. - I repeat, TAKE NOTES. I have zoned out during workshops before and I regretted it each time. The problems she gives are not just chosen willy-nilly. They each have a specific role in teaching a concept / connect to something we learned in lecture. If you're doing it right, workshop problems end up being enough. Ask yourself WHY she chose to give that particular problem, what the problem is teaching you, and you'll get the hang of it. If you still don't get the problem, go to her office hours, email her, or use the Courseworks Discussion board. - Side note: some students asked for more problems and she gave some textbook problems for us to do on our own time. I can't say for sure that the textbook problems are useless since I never did them, but I heard from some classmates that the problems didn't really help because she has such a specific way of teaching that it got confusing. If I were you, I would just stick with the workshop problems. 3. For the love of God and all that is holy, REDO THE WORKSHOPS! - I would take pictures of the blackboards at the end of each workshop, rewrite the problems with the answers/notes and then try to do the problems again without looking at the answers. Try not to memorize the answers - think through why you're using certain reagents and/or reactions. This helped so much because it showed me where I was still confused and which mistakes/tricks I had to look out for. That being said, take the answers on the blackboards with a grain of salt - sometimes they are wrong, which is why you have to pay attention during workshops!!! There's nothing more frustrating than wasting time trying to do a problem by yourself and getting the "wrong" answer based on what was drawn on the board. 4. Before midterms, make sure to go over the practice exams - READ the explanations, especially for the "essay" questions - they seem scary and long, but you'll see what people mean by her being particular about the way you answer the questions. You will soon be speaking orgo like her, which will help you a lot going forward. - Before exams, I would go over my lecture notes (don't forget about the powerpoints!), then do the workshops all over again, then take the Hunter exams untimed, and finally time myself taking the Columbia practice midterm. If I did all that, I found that there were more than enough problems. 5. This is really #extra, but will help you in the long run: Some people used notecards for reactions and reagents. If I had more time, I would do this, but I found that keeping a "glossary" of all the reactions/reagents from lecture helped me the best. Literally, take a piece of paper, draw out each of the reactions/mechanisms (reactants, reagent, product), then write down limitations and general rules for each type of reaction. I've seen people organize it in different ways, so do what works best with your line of thinking. It may seem super tedious and time-consuming, but trust me, as the semester continues, this glossary will save you. Even if I felt prepared going into an exam, there were plenty of exams where I was incredibly frustrated and discouraged when I got them back, but keep practicing!! Go to TA office hours, Phillips' office hours, or ask on the Discussion board if you can't make either. If you take her both semesters, you'll find that you start to think like her so you know what to expect and it's not so bad in the end. It's still really hard and you HAVE to put in the time, but you'll know what you need to do in order to do well. Also, if you decide you want a tutor, make sure to get one who took her class. Congrats on finishing reading this ridiculously long review and good luck!!!!!

Jul 2018

It's like she wants to make her class as meandering and difficult as possible. Focusing on edge cases like "shunting" while delivering her lectures in almost yelling at you voice does not a pleasant classroom experience make. Like why not just teach the basics of orgo like every other prof in the department? She seems like she has something to prove.

Jun 2018

Professor Phillips cares deeply about her students and teaching. She is the only professor I know who actually writes her own exam and practice problems. She specifically designs Workshop to have you begin thinking conceptually and critically about the material to help set you up for success on the exams. You have to actively participate in Workshop to receive the benefits--do not just passively copy the information you will not learn the skills she is trying to teach you. Professor Phillips also wants you to build a positive community and interact with your classmates to improve your learning (no other teacher at Columbia does this!). You will make new friends in Workshop, you will successfully get through Orgo in Workshop, and you will experience a better learning style than the usual methods we are used to. No doubt this class has helped prepare me for medical school and the MCAT. You cannot expect to do minimal amount of work and do well. Remember that you are premed and her course will help you understand the amount of effort you need to put in to your studying. Yes, you do need to dedicate a significant amount of time to this course, but there are so many long-term rewards that it is absolutely worth it. Professor Phillips' course will teach you organic chemistry on the deepest level--it will help you do well in the lab, understand general chemistry (finally), and feel relief on the MCAT when you see Orgo questions. I have seen Aldol reactions on the MCAT and didn't even need to think twice about the problem. I did not have study Orgo at all for the MCAT because I knew it so well from Professor Phillips' class. This is so important not only for your study schedule but also for you confidence on the test. Professor Phillips has her students' best interest at heart and genuinely wants to see you do well. She knows it's a difficult subject, but she is also there to support you through it! Use the resources she gives you, actively participate in Workshop to get the whole benefit. She gives you ALL past exams so there are no surprises and she is never trying to trick you. GO to her office hours. If you aren't doing well, reach out and have a meeting with her--she wants to help you! Professor Phillips helped me finally overcome test anxiety and my performance sky rocketed, I could not have done it without her. This also carried over to my other classes and the MCAT. She loves teaching and her students, and you can feel that with the amount of time she dedicates to this class and willingness to help you. Professor Phillips' class has been such a meaningful experience and she has become an incredible mentor to me. All students have the opportunity to have this experience in her class, I suggest you take it because you will not find it anywhere else!

May 2018

First of all, Dr. Phillips is Jamaican, a DJ, a chief, and an artist, in addition to being a superb educator. She was by far MY FAVORITE PROFESSOR at Columbia. I went through a very tough time personally while taking her class, and Dr. Phillips was incredibly kind and supportive. It meant a lot to me to have a professor that cared so much. I witnessed this same level of compassion with another student in my class, when hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. One of our workshop leaders family was affected, and Dr. Phillips embraced this student and consoled her while she was crying. One thing Professor Phillips makes clear from day one is that she cares for all of her students. She knows everyone in her class by name, and knows most of our interests. I would wager it hard to find another professor at Columbia that spends as much time getting to know their students. As for her class.... Yes it is hard, but not unfair. While she doesn't grade on a bell curve like the rest on the Orgo Professors, she did give the highest percentage of A's the semester I took Orgo I. Dr. Phillips has done extensive research chemical pedagogy, and has perfected the "Phillips Method". She is even in the process of authoring a text book. She knows what she is doing! Tips for Success in her class: 1. Always go to class, because there is no text book. 2. Workshops are MANDATORY and extremely helpful. 3. Take pictures of the solutions and notes she puts on the board cause that is the only place they are going to be! 4. Go to office hours AT LEAST once a week. 5. Ask Questions!!!!! 6. Study with your fellow students 7. Do the workshops and practice exams multiple times and you can't possibly make a bad grade 8. when in doubt the answer is resonance If you are up for the challenge you will not regret the decision to take her class. You will find Dr. Phillips to be funny, wise, vibrant and approachable. She is a wealth of knowledge, not only on the subject of chemistry. She gave me invaluable advice about applying to med schools, studying for the MCAT, and nutrition. She's also the only professor at Columbia with and eyebrow ring. Give LADY K PhD.J. a try!! OH AND TO THE PERSON ON HERE THAT CALLED DR. PHILLIPS AN ABOMINATION SHOVE YOUR REVIEW UP YOUR ASS AND ROTATE!!!!

May 2018

First of all, Dr. Phillips is Jamaican, a DJ, a chief, and an artist, in addition to being a superb educator. She was by far MY FAVORITE PROFESSOR at Columbia. I went through a very tough time personally while taking her class, and Dr. Phillips was incredibly kind and supportive. It meant a lot to me to have a professor that cared so much. I witnessed this same level of compassion with another student in my class, when hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. One of our workshop leaders family was affected, and Dr. Phillips embraced this student and consoled her while she was crying. One thing Professor Phillips makes clear from day one is that she cares for all of her students. She knows everyone in her class by name, and knows most of our interests. I would wager it hard to find another professor at Columbia that spends as much time getting to know their students. As for her class.... Yes it is hard, but not unfair. While she doesn't grade on a bell curve like the rest on the Orgo Professors, she did give the highest percentage of A's the semester I took Orgo I. Dr. Phillips has done extensive research chemical pedagogy, and has perfected the "Phillips Method". She is even in the process of authoring a text book. She knows what she is doing! Tips for Success in her class: 1. Always go to class, because there is no text book. 2. Workshops are MANDATORY and extremely helpful. 3. Take pictures of the solutions and notes she puts on the board cause that is the only place they are going to be! 4. Go to office hours AT LEAST once a week. 5. Ask Questions!!!!! 6. Study with your fellow students 7. Do the workshops and practice exams multiple times and you can't possibly make a bad grade 8. when in doubt the answer is resonance If you are up for the challenge you will not regret the decision to take her class. You will find Dr. Phillips to be funny, wise, vibrant and approachable. She is a wealth of knowledge, not only on the subject of chemistry. She gave me invaluable advice about applying to med schools, studying for the MCAT, and nutrition. She's also the only professor at Columbia with and eyebrow ring. Give LADY K PhD.J. a try!! OH AND TO THE PERSON ON HERE THAT CALLED DR. PHILLIPS AN ABOMINATION SHOVE YOUR REVIEW UP YOUR ASS AND ROTATE!!!!

May 2018

Don't take her. Just don't. Do yourself the favor of your undergraduate career. Must unfair class I've taken at Columbia. If you can't take another section, just wait until next year. Trust me it'll be worth it.

Nov 2017

Phillips is an abomination Columbia needs to fire. She is sickly pretentious and unfair with grading: an exam average may be in the 60s, and an A will be an 85. Any curve? No way for Phillips. She simply doesn't care about you or your grade: she has no problem giving everyone C's. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

Nov 2017

Karen Phillips is an incredible professor. Her love for teaching and her passion for her students and organic chemistry truly radiate through the classroom. I have such a strong knowledge in organic chemistry after taking her class both semesters and am so appreciative to have had her as a teacher. I am not saying her class is easy by any means- you need to be invested by putting in both the time and the effort in order to see good results. While this may seem like more work than other orgo profs from the outset, you end up coming out of her class with a strong background in orgo- enough that I haven't even opened up my orgo MCAT book once. While her workshops may seem like extra time out of your day, you would end up spending this time plus more working through the problems on your own anyway. Dr. Phillips also attends these workshop sessions and I also found that having her explain the problems in her own words was really helpful in the learning process. Keep in mind, Dr. Phillips is not required to have these sessions- she is taking time out of her own personal work day to be there. This is just one of many examples of how Dr. Phillips goes above and beyond for her students. Yes, there is no curve, BUT I am telling you that if you have strong work ethic and you are invested in the material, you can succeed. Her exams fairly reflect what she has taught in class and the problems she has given you in workshop. There is no surprises, so with the right amount of effort you should see yourself improving substantially from exam to exam. There will be moments of despair, but at the end of the day you will come out of the class an expert of orgo!

Jul 2017

Phillips' style of lecturing mostly involves drawing molecules and functional groups on the blackboard and listing ways to convert them to other molecules/functional groups. You won't need a textbook at all, but it is absolutely necessary to come to all the lectures (getting lecture notes from a friend + going to that week's workshop is a close substitute, though). In her first year teaching at Columbia, she had weekly two hour "optional" workshops in addition to the weekly 1 hour recitations. She basically comes up with the workshop questions as she goes along, the inspiration being whatever she thinks is important for you to know/practice. This means each workshop question doesn't really have a well-defined answer from the get-go, but you get to see how Phillips goes about solving her own problems and the factors she takes into account when coming up with an answer. You'll spend most of the workshop racing to finish all the questions before the answers are presented, which is honestly pretty decent practice for the time-limited exams. Knowing how to solve every single workshop problem, and listening to her explain why some plausible-sounding solutions are wrong/not ideal, is key to doing well in the class. The things she tests for on the exams are all things she had you practice with on the workshops (even if they only appeared in a single question in the first workshop). Once you have that figured out, getting above the average on the exams isn't too daunting a task.

Jun 2017

I usually don't write evaluations for a course unless it's really inspiring or really disappointing. Unfortunately, Organic Chemistry with Professor Phillips was the latter. To start off, I'd just like to say that Professor Phillips is a great lecturer, and I left every lecture feeling like I learned whatever she was trying to teach that day. The problem I had with the class came from its structure, which from what I understand by talking with other students was a pretty common experience both semesters in her class. This ultimately made me hate my organic chemistry experience. Professor Phillips offers no practice problems other than her workshop questions. She does not release the answers to these questions and only goes over the questions on Fridays in a cramped corner in the Chandler help room, which is usually filled with 30+ other students. Other than by attending the two workshops she offers on Fridays or by getting the answers from a friend who attended, there is no way to get the answers. She does not release them and usually won't cover more than 2 questions in the workshops during her office hours (likely because 1/3 of the class attends the workshops and those students are a majority of the students who attend her office hours, and so they won't ask questions on the workshops which they already know). Furthermore, the few times I went to her office hours to ask questions about different reactions and workshop questions, she was quite condescending and made me feel dumb for not knowing a concept that we learned about just the week before. I didn’t go back to her office hours after this happened to me a couple of times. If you were like me and could not attend most of the workshops because you had an internship all day on Fridays, and you did not know many people in the class to get answers from, you were basically out of luck in terms of practice problems. Additionally, she went over techniques for answering questions and other information we needed to know for practice problems during these workshops that she never mentioned in lecture. This information, I understood, was crucial to understanding exam questions, and it really put those who couldn't attend at a severe disadvantage. She says these workshops are "optional". This is not true in my experience. To do decently well (or even mediocre) in her class, you needed to attend the workshops. She tells us in class that "students who don't attend the workshops still get high grades". This is not a justification to call the workshops optional. This is not how grading statistics works. I'm sure if she took the averages of exams of students who consistently attend workshops and those students who do not, she would see a very clear and large disparity between the two. She also mentioned a handful of times that students approached her to ask that she restructure the class to make it easier for those who cannot attend the workshops - she essentially said that she didn't care. I remember one time during her office hours she told us a story of her meeting with her supervisor to discuss course evaluations from last semester. The major complaint in the evaluations was the workshops, and she told us during her office hours that she didn't care to accommodate the "whiners” who asked her to give the answers to the workshops. This was very disheartening to hear, considering that a few students that I knew did not attend the workshops because they worked on Fridays because they were so busy during the week and needed that income to stay afloat. I wouldn't dare call those students whiners. They are some of the most hard working people I know, and I was very disappointed to hear Professor Phillips make such an assumption about them. She took the concept of workshops from her teaching at Hunter College. I can understand if this is how classes at Hunter are structured, and I can understand her desire for making students work together on these questions. In theory, it sounds very beneficial for students to work together on these problems and come to conclusions on their own. But this is not how classes are structured here at Columbia. We have 50 minute recitations for 4 credit courses, with the only exception being Biology, which had recitations that were scheduled on different days, which meant students could avoid conflicts with work/internships/other classes. Furthermore, recitations are scheduled (on SSOL), not a free floating "optional" recitation, which isn't actually optional if you want to succeed in the class. If she wanted to implement this style of teaching, she could’ve easily instructed the TAs to do this during the 50 min recitations. She said this semester that next year, the workshops will be a necessary part of the class. This is further evidence that these workshops shouldn't have been considered optional this year, and while this is a good step going forward, it shows that students this semester were at a disadvantage in terms of what is expected of them from the start of the semester. She stated they were "optional" during the first few weeks, and by the time I learned they were not so optional, it was too late to switch sections. I also cannot understand how they expect students to register for her class in the future where the recitation is 2 hours and only available once a week when they could register for another orgo section (Doubleday, Lambert) which has a 50 min recitation offered many times a week. I’m sure this will severely drive down the number of students in her section. My classmates also told me that oftentimes, the recitations went over 2 hours to 3 hours, so I would be weary if you plan to get out within 2 hours (e.g. if you have an internship or another class to go to after the workshop). One may think that they could just get practice questions and solutions from online resources or from other orgo sections, but Professor Phillips’ exams are created in such a way that only someone who is familiar with her workshop questions can do well. The skills and knowledge needed to answer these questions come primarily from the workshops. In fact, many of the same string of reactions needed to answer her short response “guess the reactants” questions came straight from the workshops. Again, I'd like to reiterate that Professor Phillips is a great lecturer. She made me somewhat enjoy the topic of organic chemistry. But unfortunately, because of the workshops and exams, my experience with this class was ultimately very poor. My recommendation is that if you’re a postbac, and you have enough time to dedicate to this class, go ahead and take it. Just know that you will be doing much more work than your classmates in other sections. If you’re an undergrad, avoid this class at all costs. I cannot stress this enough. It will suck up so much of your time and energy, and you will still come out of the class with a lackluster grade. The postbacs on average put in so much more effort and really drove down the curve for undergrads. Believe me, even if you cannot get into Lambert’s class, at least take Doubleday. I didn't because it was a night class (and regret it), but trust me even if you don’t go to his lectures, you will still have an easier time in orgo if you take Doubleday's class and just read the textbook.

May 2017

I don't know who you are, but you deserve better than Phillips as an orgo professor. I don't even know where to begin. Lecture: she's ok, but the problem is that you have to rely on her notes, and if you just copy everything she writes, all you have is a mechanism. She mentions important caveats and conceptual details casually, and if you blink you'll miss it. Some students record her lecture, and I guess that could help provided you have the free time to go over it at home. This could just be me, but I find her lecture leaves you without the intuition for organic chemistry that a lot of other professors provide. When I compare what I've learned to other classes like orgo lab, or to mcat style problems, it's like I learned orgo on another planet. Workshop: it's a circus. As other reviewers have mentioned, you get the workshop the day before, and then work them out on a Friday. I could see this maybe working with a very small group of students, guided by knowledgeable TA's and the professor, but there's no guidance for the first hour or so, and then she just wanders in and kinda expects that you've figured it all out. How she treats you in workshop depends on who you are and what kind of day she's having. She has her favorites who can completely screw up a problem and she'll act like it's the cutest thing ever, and then there's the rest of you, who will get furrowed brows, short answers, eye rolls, and face palms. I guess the workshop is a good idea in theory, but it's poorly executed. It's less Socratic seminar and more Lord of the Flies. Despite all this, the workshops were the most efficient and perhaps the only way to get the solutions. Grading: She didn't bother to tell us until halfway through the first semester that she doesn't curve. Not sure why. Maybe she doesn't know how to calculate z-scores. So don't feel good about yourself if you're scoring ten points or whatever above the average, it won't matter. Why she thinks an 80% is the same whether the average was a 70% or a 50% is beyond me. Oh, and she made her third exam ridiculously hard and when asked about it basically said she was tired and didn't mean to make it that hard. Tired? Really? I don't know how her distribution ends up looking or if it's any harder or easier to get an A than it would be with another professor, but those who switched to doubleday second semester didn't seem to regret it.

May 2017

Professor Phillips is a very polarizing figure. Most students agree she is a fantastic educator with a real passion for teaching, however, she also maintains very high standards for grade ranges. Unlike other orgo professors in the department, the average grade for her course is around a B-. That being said, it is not impossible to do well and she provides ample resources to prepare for exams. Her lectures are extremely clear and well organized making note taking easy. The exams themselves are very fair without questions completely out of left field. She is the type of professor that knows every student's name in a large lecture, and she seems to be invested in the success of each student while recognizing organic chemistry is a difficult subject. A semester with Professor Phillips made me love organic chemistry, and I recommend taking her section if you are interested in learning the subject material well.

May 2017

I feel like Dr. Phillips deserved a more fair and honest review here. She was a tough professor and Orgo was no easy subject, but she tried her best to make her objective clear and organized. She used PowerPoint at a minimal level, which I enjoyed because you truly engaged with the material while writing notes. She didn't curve but she gave us all the tools to be successful. She made herself available on every Friday to work with us on workshop problems. When you whined about you have plan on Fridays, have you thought about the professor who spent HER TIME out of class time to help you? If you did all her workshop problems (once, twice or as many times as needed) AND her Hunter past exams, you would be golden. They were very similar to her actual exams. You would quickly learn her testing style after one or two exams. The average for the first two midterms was at the 70s. You might not do well in a midterm, but you could drop one. Also, she allowed us to bring a 2-page (back and forth) CHEAT SHEETS for the final exam! You couldn't get better than that. I took her both for Orgo I and Orgo II. If you put the work in, you would get the grade you deserve. The idea of not curving is so that your performance is YOURS, not depending on others. I think she made Workshop mandatory (like in recitation?) starting next semester. Go to those and trust me, you would learn a ton in 12 weeks.

Jan 2017

I feel like I should warn students about this professor. She seemed really cool on the first day of class and she advertised herself as being this incredible professor who made students fall in love with organic, but in reality, she is none of those things. She picks favorites, she does not curve her exams even though the average for all three of our exams was a C or C-, she did not tell us about her grading scale until after the second exam, basically after it was too late to drop her course, and if you don't go to her workshops, it's basically impossible to do well in her class. Some students thought her lecture was interesting, but I thought her drawings on the board were very disorganized and found it difficult to read my notes later. She doesn't use the textbook at all really so everything is from class notes, but again, if those are bad, you cannot do well.

May 2016

Professor Doubleday's lecturing style can be dry at times and reading the textbook was a must but in my opinion, he made orgo as painless as possible. I had Campos for orgo I so in comparison, Doubleday's class was more laid-back. He is very clear about what he expects you to know for his exams. The exams are moderately difficult but just make sure you study the practice exams intensively. The exam problems are more difficult than most of the assigned McMurry hw problems so after a while I just stopped doing McMurry and studied the practice exams exclusively. However, I would recommend using McMurry to practice mechanisms as Doubleday seems to draw upon those for his exam questions. To practice syntheses, studying the practice exams was key. The final was the most grueling 3 hours of my life (18 pages long) but if you study the first three midterms and all the practice exams you will make it out relatively unscathed. He is not very good at inspiring the students so less than 50% of the class showed up toward the end of the semester (personally, I thought it was a refreshing change of pace to not be swarmed by a bunch of overeager pre-meds at lectures and office hours though). He is very responsive on Piazza and he was generous about offering extra office hours before the 3rd midterm and the final. I would take his class if you are the type of student who learns better by reading the textbook and studying on your own. If you're planning on taking orgo, chances are you've already had a good amount of experience in science/pre-med classes at Columbia so Doubleday's class won't be any different. Take-away: Orgo will be difficult no matter who you take it with but at least Doubleday's class is straightforward.

Sep 2015

I'll make this concise. Knuckolls is thee best Organic Chem professor in this building. I wish that he taught Orgo I because Cornish and Doubleday's methods were way too convoluted. He said on day one that his exams were a direct reflection of his lectures and that was the truth. I appreciated his honesty, there were no surprises. One of the TA's posted his notes verbatim, and she made a valiant attempt to clear up dense material, and she wrote detailed mechanisms. In addition these TA's were approachable and available. No God complexes whatsoever. You need to hit the ground running because he covers the material quickly so don't miss class (even though the notes might be posted). I believe that the behavior of posting notes was a test run during my semester, and I had an awesome TA that was diligent but you should invest the time...you're paying for it! You're all but spoon fed the material. There was HW which wasn't collected but very useful. Make index cards...that will save your life as far as terminology, and mechanisms go. Do the practice exams. Do the practice exams. Do the practice exams. Got it?

May 2015

After taking Doubleday's orgo class first semester, I found Nuckolls's class to be refreshing (and much easier). The hardest part was actually attending the lectures at 8:40AM. It was a bit hard for me to follow along in his lectures, since he goes fast and covers a lot of material in each session. This year, he posted all his lecture notes online, so it was super convenient to just browse through his notes and fill in any gaps I may have missed during the lectures. Pros: Good lecturer, online notes available, fair grading/curve (exam averages this year hovered around mid-40s to 70's so if you think you bombed an exam, it's very likely everyone else did as well - which helps the curve!), no homework but optional problem sets that definitely help for the exams, tons of practice exams and office hours available, less post-baccs = less competition Cons: Fast lecture pace, notes can be a bit sloppy and unclear, keys to the practice exams were incomplete (went to office hours, but sometimes even the TAs didn't know the answer, so it's best to ask the prof directly), 8:40AM lectures Some advice: I originally studied for the exams by reading and rereading the textbook (and taking copious notes), which left me little time to do the practice exams when it came to exam time. I HIGHLY suggest going through a single practice exam FIRST (just browse through it to get a sense of what'll show up on the exam), going through the lecture notes and highlighting the stuff covered in the practice exam, and THEN reading the textbook if you need to. What Nucholls actually tests you on is only a small fraction of the textbook material, so you really only need the textbook to look up mechanistic details; otherwise, reading the textbook is a complete waste of time. Overall, compared to Doubleday, Nuckolls was a much better lecturer with fairer exams (in my opinion). I received an entire letter grade higher in Nuckolls's section, but I don't necessarily think I studied any harder in second semester orgo. Either way, orgo was by far one of the hardest classes I've ever taken, but shoot for Nucholls, work hard, and you may get a great grade with only half the stress that comes with the other orgo sections!

May 2015

Melissa Ball is an incredibly capable TA, who genuinely cares about you doing well in Nuckolls' class. As a post-bac, she took Colin's Orgo 2 in the spring of 2014. Afterwards she joined the Nuckolls group as a Chemistry grad student. She knows what high performance means for Orgo exam and will do everything possible to prepare you; during her recitations she often reviews particularly tricky mechanisms and goes through problems Colin prescribes during lecture. Melissa, like Colin, will stop to answer your question at any point during recitation, no matter how small. If you email her, she will generally get back to you. If you go to office hours or make an appointment, you'll find her to be very helpful. Her quizzes are generally straightforward and test the material from the previous week's lectures. If you go over the lecture and recitation notes two or three times, you should do well on her quizzes. My one criticism of Melissa's teaching style is that she often treats everyone in the class as if they were a fellow post-bac. Notecarding and memorizing every lecture mechanism, homework problem, and practice exam are the sort of things you can do if you're only taking two classes per semester, however this is an unrealistic recommendation for many undergraduate students. That being said, if you are a post-bac, Melissa's your gal. If you're not, go to her recitations, do what you can, and don't sweat it if you haven't achieved post-bac level studying habits. Oh, and later in the semester, she can be spotty about passing back quizzes One last interesting note; Melissa's obsession with Colin is thoroughly entertaining. A friend once recorded the number of times she said Colin's name in a recitation ("Colin wants you to know...", "Think to yourself, what is Colin trying to test...", etc.). 25 times.

Jun 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed Orgo II with Nuckolls. I agree with the previous reviewer in that it was definitely one of the more straightforward (and less stressful) of the pre-med classes I've taken. Lecture/Lecture Notes - At first I was annoyed that Nuckolls doesn't post his lecture notes on Courseworks, as I had been used to consistently skipping Campos' lectures, but I got over it pretty fast. Plus attendance was pretty impressive for an 8:40 AM class. It's true that Nuckolls moves pretty fast and skips steps here and there, but you'll be fine as long as you get down all the notes and review them later. The notes are very important - on the first exam, I think 2-3/6 problems were literally straight out of the notes. (After that first exam I knew I'd have a pleasant experience with Nuckolls - it's so very refreshing when a professor actually tests on what they taught.) In terms of his lecture style, Nuckolls was one of the more engaging lecturers I've had at Columbia, and I found his catchphrases and sarcasm to be endearing, even at 8:40 AM. Thanks to him, I've now adopted "and Bob's your uncle." Exams - Fair. A lot of questions were either straight out of the notes/practice exams or variations of these problems. What's important is that the concepts were the same. (He gave a TON of practice exams, which was great.) I was really stressed about the final because it was worth 40% of our grade, but I had a feeling Nuckolls would make it fair for that reason. Sure enough, more than half the exam was straight from the practice exams, and the rest was either straight from the notes or easy enough to figure out. I think I finished in 45 minutes (we had three hours.) Basically, if you thoroughly examine the notes and do all the homeworks/practice exams, you should do just fine. Homework - Weekly problem sets. Not collected, but good practice to make sure you have the basic concepts down before moving on to harder problems. Quizzes - Performance on quizzes determined whether borderline cases were moved up or down. I took the first three or four and then never went to recitation again, mostly because I really didn't like my TA. Overall - I highly recommend Nuckolls. I think he was great.

May 2014

I found this class to be one of the most straightforward of my premed classes. As long as you went to every lecture (probably the most difficult part of this 8:40 AM ordeal), you should expect to do reasonably well. Nuckolls chooses not to engage with the class during lecture and speeds through his material but his office hours are definitely more reflective of his teaching abilities; he's personable and doesn't want people to fail, unlike some premed req teachers who commandeer certain weed out classes. Basically, if you have the option to take Orgo w/ Nuckolls, take it. You'll save yourself a lot of BS.

May 2014

Professor Nuckolls' class is challenging, but if you put in the work and don't give up, you will see results. He doesn't post his lecture notes, so going to each lecture and taking good notes is a must--this may seem inconvenient at first, but it actually helps you focus and pushes you to learn in class. If you have to miss lecture, get the notes from a reliable friend. I would study his lecture notes thoroughly, and go to the professor's office hours to get clarification on any weak points. He is very kind, approachable, and available! Take advantage of this, because I had quite the opposite case in my first semester of orgo, and having this support makes a huge difference. Whenever I emailed him about issues on a practice problem, he always responded very quickly and thoroughly. I found the textbook helpful in grasping concepts and checking some of the mechanisms, but the exam level is beyond McMurry. For exam prep, after I'd grasped the mechanisms (flash card them and know them cold) and studied my notes, I'd go through all of his practice exams…he gives several, so there is a lot of ground to cover, but I found he sometimes repeats questions, or puts very similar ones on the tests, so mastering the practice tests is key. One part of the class I didn't appreciate as much is that a lot of the mechanisms are not covered in minute detail in class--so make sure to compare with a colleague/look it up from a reliable source online so you are not losing points on mechanistic details. There's quite a lot of time that needs to go into this class to produce good results, but I had a friend I'd consistently study for the class with, and talking through everything together definitely made things more enjoyable, while helping me see where I was weak and needed reinforcement. Overall, tough but enjoyable class!

May 2014

I couldn't agree more with the most recent positive review below me. I also felt the need to post on this forum because the reviews I saw for Doubleday were overwhelmingly negative, and I really can't fathom how that's possible. As the reviewer below me wrote: DOUBLEDAY MAKES THE CLASS THE EASIEST IT CAN POSSIBLY BE. It's not an easy class, especially second semester, but Doubleday is enthusiastic and clear most of the time, tho he does have a tendency to look at the board and mutter sometimes. He gives previous years exams for you to review (five per test - that's like, unheard of!) and he is absolutely straightforward about what he will test on, and best of all, THAT'S ACTUALLY WHAT HE SPENDS HIS TIME TEACHING. Both semesters I have relied almost exclusively on Doubleday's lecture notes and the practice tests, only reading the textbook when I was confused or needed clarification on something very specific. I got an A first semester, and found the class relatively straightforward and sort of easy, doing about 4-8 hours of studying per week. Flashcards for reactions are critical at least for me, and I spend a lot of time writing and reviewing those. Don't do what I did and get cocky from good early exams though - the class is very cumulative in what is learned (tho only the final is actually 'cumulative') so you must keep up and don't rely on good grades on the easy early stuff!

Apr 2014

While I expect a good grade in this class, I have absolutely nothing good to say about it. Colin is rather sarcastic and dismissive towards his students, at least during lecture. He assumes that everyone in the class is Pre-med and will often drop comments like, "C'mon you pre-meds, shouldn't you know this?" It's rather annoying, especially when there are people who are actually interested in learning actual concepts in chemistry and want to do research in the future. Instead, this whole class is one giant memorization-fest. I literally binge orgo for 2 days before each exam and then forget about everything within two days of taking each exams. He offers you plenty of practice problems and exams, except the "keys" he gives you are largely either "See nearly identical homework problem" or just a list of reagents. It's extremely unhelpful, because most of the time these "identical" homework problems don't even exist in the first place and you end up wasting a bunch of time looking in your notes and whatnot for something that isn't there anyways. What's most infuriating about his practice exams is the fact that he NEVER fully writes out the details to the mechanism questions. Looking in your notes isn't going to do you any good either, because he loves to skip mechanistic steps during lecture as well. I'd say that about 30% of the mechanisms he expects you to know were actually never actually taught to you in lecture nor in the practice exam keys. It's fucking infuriating when you spend 30 minutes going through every homework problem trying to find the answer to a practice exam problem that isn't there in the first place. You're pretty much forced to go to office hours to get help on the practice exams, but your TA is already preoccupied with dozens of equally confused students! It's a gigantic waste of time. "Why don't you just skip every lecture and learn orgo online?", you ask. Well, Colin doesn't post his lecture notes online. Okay, then why don't I figure out what the chapters are over and learn the relevant material through the book? Nope. He goes in much greater detail that McMurry and loves to put challenge questions on the exams. He'll give you little hints in class about potentially hard questions he might drop on the exams, so you're forced to go to every single lecture, scavenging for whatever scraps of useful information he might toss at you. All in all, this class is terrible. It made me hate orgo after having such a fun first semester with Campos. I feel like Colin doesn't care about his students, because as long as someone aces the exam (and trust me, someone will), he can justify everything he does. This class is just one big inconvenience in my life. Shit.

Jun 2013

Horrible professor, don't know why he is even allowed to teach organic chemistry. Goes on random tangents and expects us to learn concepts in the textbook he never taught in class. Not that he does a great job of teaching organic chemistry anyway. Also, some of the concepts/mechanisms on his exams were concepts mentioned BRIEFLY in class; there's no way to predict what will be on the exams. He also gets upset when the class average is ridiculously low. TA's are arrogant and don't help much either. To further attest to how bad this class was: people submitted signed petitions to administration about his grading system, exams and teaching ability. Avoid at all costs.

May 2013

Professor Snyder, hands down, is the best science professor I've ever had. Somehow, some way, by some awesome orgo magic he made me enjoy getting my lazy self out of bed so I could get to class on time for an 8:40 AM lecture. No small feat considering the fact that I'm chronically late to everything--I kid you not. Graduations, games, dinners, dates, everything but this class. And he was able to do this by simply doing what professors are supposed to do--teach. While I usually tend to like all my professors, I must admit that many of them can't actually teach. Yes, these professors are brilliant but the vast majority lack the skills necessary to engage and interact with large groups of people. Professor Snyder is not one of those professors. His lectures are generously peppered with relevant and often times hilarious jokes and pop culture references that are great for breaking up the monotony of early morning Orgo lectures. He even played a "training" montage for us during the last week that included the Rocky theme song and the original Karate Kid movie theme song. Lectures: All lecture materials are available online. I never even cracked open that dreadful McMurry book (great for me since I never bought the thing) nor did I do any McMurry problems. To be honest McMurry is probably one of the worst O-chem textbooks known to mankind. (If you're going to use an O-chem text, check out David Klein's "Organic Chemistry" textbook. I didn't use it for this class but I did use it for Orgo I. It's bloody brilliant. Klein is the grand master of Ochem textbooks). Professor Snyder begins each class with a 10-15 minute review of the previous lectures material, which I found to be insanely helpful because there were weekends where I wouldn't look at Orgo but I never had to worry about not being able to follow the first lecture of the upcoming week because he always reviewed everything. He also does problems in class, which seems to be a rarity for intro science courses. After he taught a topic, Professor Snyder would post "quickfire challenges" usually about 3 or 4 questions and we would literally work through them step-by-step. These, more than the actual lecture material, were invaluable to me. I learn best from example so these quickfire challenges really prepped me for the homework. I made sure to pay extra attention to those because many of them came straight from previous years' problem sets and helped me catch onto the patterns necessary for solving synthesis problems. He also answered questions clearly and concisely. He doesn't reword what you say and then answer his own question he actually answers your question. He's terrific at breaking down even the most complex topic. To be honest, there really were no "hard" topics. He presents the material in a straight forward and easy to digest manner. I don't think I've ever come across a professor as diligently organized as Office Hours This guy is so freakishly generous with his time. I say "freakish" because I've never had a professor host 2 or 3 office hours in one week. He answers pretty much all questions and even gives answers/hints to pset problems. I went to about 3 in the middle of the semester but then stopped going because they were quite crowded by the scary pre-meds. Homework: I disagree with the second reviewer down. I don't think there was too much work. It's an organic chemistry II class. What do you expect? Not only that, the work literally preps you for everything and anything that shows up on exams. The psets aren't terribly difficult but they are far more challenging than the actual exam so if you can do the hard stuff in the comfort of the your home with lecture notes and google at your disposal then you can do whatever he dishes out on the exam. They shouldn't take you more than 1 hour to complete. It's really too bad he's leaving.

May 2013

I've done a lot of stupid things at Columbia, but the worst of them was taking this class. Sames taught deceptively slow the first couple of months, and then towards the end of the semester he still kept his pace, but made us learn everything he didn't teach by ourselves in like 2 weeks. People were petitioning and emailing administrators to get him to change the grading system or material, but obviously nothing worked. His classes aren't informative at all, and you never know what to expect on tests because he doesn't give practice exams, and the problem sets were nothing like the actual exams. I can honestly say the best part of this class was it wasn't at 8.40am. Due to my schedule, I wasn't able to take Snyder's class, so I thought Sames couldn't be that bad - my my was I severely mistaken. The TAs were crap. They didn't care about the course or the students, and most of the time they weren't even familiar with the material. He likes to use a laser pointer, and every time he wasted time prancing around asking us what the eff his chicken scratch meant, I wanted to blow my head off. He was superbly unhelpful about questions and grading and the material that was going to be on any test. This is the quote that defines his class, "We're going to cover selected subjects on X and Y chapter in the next class, but you will be responsible for the entire chapter." Well turns out we were responsible for the entire book (99.99%) for the final. The administrators told us that he probably added all the irrelevant biochem material to better prepare us for the MCATs, but I reckon I can tell bull**** when it's thrown in my face. Sames has no business teaching, he should just focus on research because that's what he's good at. Orgo is supposed to be such an important, fundamental subject, why does Columbia let horrible teachers like Sames continue w/o any amendments? Organic chemistry was my favorite subject and it still is, but this has been my least favorite class with my least favorite teacher with my least favorite TAs. I beseech you young minds to NEVER, EVER TAKE A CLASS WITH DALIBOR SAMES. EVER.

May 2013

This class is the worst class I have ever taken in my entire career, and I am a postbac who has taken a ton of classes. The class is entirely based on how much you can learn on your own. The stress from this class has caused me to do badly in my other classes as well. If you value your sanity or your GPA or actually want to learn Orgo, avoid this class! I can't stress enough how much you want to avoid this class. Concepts you never would learn unless you googled them for fun WILL show up on your exams. Don't know it? Too bad so sad. This guy taught like 6 chapters in the entire year and then pops another six we need to know on our own at the very end. I feel like a gladiator taking this final because I have no clue what to expect when I actually sit down to take the test. Please avoid this class.

May 2013

The worst professor I have ever encountered at Columbia by far. Sames' complete lack of organization and commitment to teaching was appalling. From the absence of any sort of lecture notes or recordings, to his mumbling in class, to his inclusion of complex and ultimately extraneous biochemical subject matter that served only to confuse us, it was a herculean task to simply know what it was we were supposed to learn, let alone actually learn it. Unlike in Snyder's section, where students were provided with old exams, problem sets, lecture notes, and the curriculum mostly followed our textbook, Sames' class was a mystery as to what we needed to know and how in-depth we needed to know it. Quizzes and problem sets required us to know reactions and reagents that hadn't yet been covered in lecture, if they were to be covered at all. We also never got a single problem set back in time for the actual exam. Wow. The worst is that the class average is supposed to be a B-, which I can understand for a course like Biology, where the instructor was competent and understanding, and provided many resources for students to help themselves learn. Here, it was as if the professor was saying 'good luck, teach yourself all this material, fuck you.' I leave the class frustrated, angry, and demoralized. Any chemistry that I learned was a result of my own work and the TAs help, and definitely not Sames. Would not recommend taking his section to even my worst enemy, which seems to be the general consensus amongst my colleagues. Christ was this awful.

Jan 2013

ONE OF THE BEST PROFESSORS IN THE HISTORY OF TEACHING! Seriously... as scary as Organic Chemistry is made out to seem.... Professor Merrer made it a lovable subject. BECAUSE of this class, I deduced that my favorite science BY FAR was & still is Organic Chemistry. She uses a variety of color coordination on the boards which makes following her notes all the more easier. She was mindful of student questions both during lecture and office hours. She answers questions very thoroughly. While she is a tough grader.... it helped you learned the subject. TAKE THIS CLASS WITH HER! She is awesome. She is also pretty funny which is an added plus. :) SIDE NOTE: Organic Chemistry II is way better than Organic Chemistry I (for obvious reasons... like being better familiar with the subject).... therefore even if you feel yourself suffocating first semester still take second semester with her!

Jul 2012

I agree with parts of the previous review. Snyder's review page reads too one-sided and there's a need for different perspectives on his class. He's a very good professor and a wonderful person but in terms of his lectures, I cannot give him an entirely flattering review. The big problem with professor Snyder's style of lecturing is that he goes way too fast, and even though he appeared to have slowed down his pace by the middle of the semester (perhaps due to student input?), he was still very difficult to follow. I think this problem can be attributed to the fact that Snyder does not usually allocate time during lectures to questions from the class (unless you raise your hand and interrupt his lecture to ask a question, and not everyone feels comfortable doing so). Although Snyder is very helpful during office hours and is willing to answer questions after class, getting used to his one-hour, I-am-not-going-to-stop style of lecturing was a challenge for me, and I think future Orgo II students should be aware of this (so that they know what to expect) before stepping foot in this class. Granted, some people in the class are able to follow through Snyder's lectures without a hitch, but I guarantee you that many others, including myself, found his lectures to be infuriating. I am not saying that Snyder does not make an attempt to engage the class because he certainly does; he peppers his lectures with his pop culture references, historical anecdotes, and his humor (and he's quite funny); I seldom found lecture to be uninteresting. However, professor Snyder needs to realize that pop culture references and historical anecdotes do not make up for a fundamental lack of engagement between professor and student in the sense that large portions of the class would frequently be five minutes behind in drawing resonance structures (that Snyder drew at lightning speed on the board) while the professor erases the board, does not allocate any time for questions, and speeds ahead with the lecture; this continued lecture after lecture after lecture after lecture. I get the impression that professor Snyder is a genuinely kind person and he really makes an effort to engage the class, so I get the impression this is an issue he may not necessarily be aware of. Not everyone is a natural in orgo, and beyond the hyper-enthusiastic postbacs cramming the first few rows of Havemeyer 309, the silent and confused masses of "other" students found themselves frustrated on a routine basis, and I hope this review speaks for the "other" students in the class. A large number of us studied hard on our own, listened to the audio of Snyder's lectures over and over again, and ultimately did well in the class, and I was one of these students. But really, at a bare minimum, how hard is it to pause - momentarily, at least? - during your lectures to take some questions from the class?

Jul 2012

Professor Snyder is simply terrible. I have no idea why so many people are applauding him in this review page.He gives far too much work and relies way too much on memorization. His exams contain wacky "apply-your-knowledge" questions that are just downright ridiculous and all the other questions require you to memorize a ton of mechanisms. His problem sets are far too long and difficult, and he just simply floods you with too much crap for your brain to handle. Albeit a good teacher, he moves way too fast. Reconsider and don't listen to the lies on this page.

May 2012

As I finished Snyder's final, a mystifying thought crossed my mind: "Do I really want this class to be over?" You read that correctly- I was sad to be leaving Snyder's class. Out of my 6 semesters at this school, I am hard pressed to think of a more dedicated professor than Dr. Snyder. His classes were at 9 am MWF which absolutely sucked, but every lecture Snyder would be there early, have a recap of the previous class written up on the board, and was answering eager post-bacc questions about a problem set that wasn't due for weeks. Moreover, Snyder held two 1.5 hour office hours a week in which students could ask direct questions about the p-sets that would be graded, and he would not bat an eyelid as he answered the question fully and in a way that made sense. He was also very responsive by email even though he has a million other things going on in his life (google him and be prepared to have your mind blown). I did well in the course, and I did so by using all of the course materials Snyder makes available on courseworks (I did the psets honestly and then went to office hours and then put my final answers on paper in a group of students), and before each test I would do the old psets and midterms as well as read the supplemental textbook notes that Snyder wrote (yes, the man wrote his own textbook for the course). Halfway through the course I stopped using the course assigned textbook, but I'd recommend not doing that if you need to know everything. Some perks: he grades the exams in 1 day, he offers extra credit, and he does a 20 minute recap of the previous class before getting to his next planned lesson. It is easy to see why my experience with Snyder was so positive after 3 years of CU pre-med and science professors.

May 2011

Professor Lambert is a really nice guy that cares about his students. Lectures are not too bad and he tries to make it interesting with the occasional lame joke or funny story. He'll make the reactions seem easy and logical during lecture but you'll still find yourself often confused when you do the questions yourself. The reality is that the material in Orgo 2 is not easy and will require a lot of studying, regardless of which professor you take it with. There were 3 exams (drop 1) and a final. The averages were 77, (actually 87, but he was being nice and set the average lower cause he thought the class did really well), around 50 for the other 2 midterms and 78 for the final. I thought the exams were quite fair. Yes, there were questions that were tricky and tough to get without a really thorough understanding and intuition of the material, but there were enough points to go around to score well on all the exams. Synthesis questions are tough and you need to develop a good strategy or you could get stuck on those questions during the exams. In contrast to the previous reviewer, I felt like I learned a lot of Orgo from Lambert and it seemed like he was a better choice than the other options available. I did quite well studying primarily from his notes, while checking the book occasionally. I thought it really helped that all his notes were posted online. Teaching on a blackboard is also infinitely better than powerpoint (which Turro did in my previous semester). The major complaint I had was when he was away for several lectures--- and the fact that the 3rd and final exam was scheduled only 1 week before our final. Also, he gives a ton of ungraded problem sets, but the problem sets often don't match with what's being tested and there are sometimes mistakes in the answers (there are no step-by-step solutions, which makes it hard sometimes to figure out how they get their answer). But he also gives several practice exams w/solutions before each exam/final. I would advise to do those last and use those as your real test of the material, and just casually go through the problem sets to make sure you know what you're doing.

May 2011

Tristan is a good professor and deserves a silver medal. He is so enthusiastic about organic chemistry and very willing to respond to questions. Although it is true that he spent too much time on aromaticity, which in turn prevented him from covering the biochemistry chapters, the reactions he covered, particularly on carbonyl chemistry (crux of orgo II), were presented extremely thoroughly. The beastly nature of orgo II can be frightening, but Tristan makes it much much more tolerable. Plus, he has lots of supplementary problem sets (ungraded) and exams on courseworks. What more can you ask for? I learned a lot from this class and actually developed a love for org. chem. If you really pay attention and am genuinely interested in the subject, lectures are extremely valuable, since he presented lots of nifty-little tricks here and there and occasionally threw in jokes to cheer everybody up. He may initially seem intimidating, but as the term wore on, I got the impression that he was nowhere close to being arrogant and really cared about students; no offense, but think about the patience he has for some of the annoying post-bacs who tend to be show-offs and make one sick to the stomach. In response to some of the complaints in the previous review(s): 1. Occasionally, Lambert's notes do contain mistakes - that is why one should take his or her own notes and attend class. Besides, organic chem only sinks in through repetition and writing out the reactions yourself. The posted lecture notes are a good way to check stuff over and truly reveal the dedication that Lambert has for teaching, given the time spent on writing them. Profs are humans and thus not perfect. Please appreciate Lambert's efforts and quit whining. Also, the notes are already much better than the crappy, insufficient McMurry textbook. 2. Exams - Usual Format: predicting the products, synthesis, mechanism (also extra credit available). They are hard, but not impossible to do well on, with partial credit awarded very appropriately. I find them to be rather fair (potentially fun) and focus proportionally on the stuff he taught. The tests are not meant to demoralize people, but rather to test for an extra level of understanding. Don't expect to be spoon-fed the material here at Columbia. Apply what you have absorbed in lecture and don't rely on rote-memorization (epic-fail!!!). Besides, everything is curved, which means that Tristan does not intend to mess people up on purpose. Stop fussing only about grades - try to be humble and actually learn. Exam 1: Avg 85, STD 10.5 (To be nice, he actually rescaled the avg to 77). Exam 2: Avg 53, STD 19 Exam 3: Avg 49, STD 19 Final Exam: Avg 236/300, STD 58 -> This was like a gift to us, although somehow people still did pretty badly on it. Either, they are retarded or stopped caring/ studying. If Tristan wanted to, he could have just made this a killer, but instead chose to make it resemble the practice exams very closely. Pretty easy. Btw, for your information, we had Jim Leighton and Scott Snyder as guest lecturers for a couple of classes and they were also great.

May 2011

Easily one of the best chem lecturers Ive had. Somewhat dry but overall very clear about the material, approachable and also has a good sense of humor. The exams ranged from straightforward to hairy (mean of 50 on two of them). Everything gets normalized at the end, probably curved to a B+, so I wouldnt be deterred by the CalTech mystique that surrounds some of the more difficult synthesis/mechanism problems. And the TAs were excellent, make sure to go early to office hours to avoid the herds of postbacs.

May 2011

I have no idea how this guy got a silver medal (or whatever that is). His tests are terrible. They are so long that lots of people don't finish and they are significantly harder than the material he goes over in class. The grading is really random so I suggest ALWAYS asking for a regrade because you're pretty much guaranteed to get more points. No basis to how many points you get at all and the TAs are all basically doing their own thing. He spent weeks and weeks on aromaticity and then expected us to memorize almost a hundred reactions that he barely covered in class. Lots of mistakes in his notes too (which he sometimes doesn't mention in class. watch out for that) He thinks he's funny, but really just seems pretty cocky. I don't think I learned much. I wish I could go back and drop this class. So make a better choice than me and pick another professor !!

May 2010

I was new to Snyder's class this semester, since I took first semester orgo with Sames. The difference between the two is, to use a cliche, like day and night. Snyder is one of the most efficient and organized professors I've encountered. He lectures at a brisk pace but always slows down to emphasize the important points. What's incredibly helpful is that he takes 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class to review material from the previous lecture. This is a great way to double-check the mechanisms you wrote down in a hurry and to refresh your memory before plunging into new material. Last semester, the McMurry textbook was my lifeline. Sames' lectures were hard to follow, so I read and reread the McMurry chapters. This semester, Snyder made me realize how inadequate the textbook is. No, Snyder doesn't teach out of the textbook; he only follows the textbook's way of organizing the material. But his lectures are really thorough, and he provides supplemental explanations (read: a mini-textbook) to go along with his lectures. He teaches the material so well that you don't really NEED the textbook. This man's dedication is also amazing. He holds two office hours per week and a review session before each exam. For the third exam, he even trekked to campus on a Saturday to give a review session when he could have easily made one of the TAs do it. For someone whose first semester professor had a tendency to perform disappearing acts at crucial times, this kind of dedication was impressive. Also, I'm not sure if he will do this in the future, but he actually posted his own lecture notes online at the end of each unit from the second unit onwards (I suspect he did this for the second exam because we had a bunch of cancellations due to the weather). This isn't to say that orgo II is easy. It's not. There are hundreds of reactions and many mechanisms. But Snyder makes it as easy as possible and tries very hard to point out the major trends so that the class is less memorization-based. If you do treat this class like a memorization class, you probably won't succeed. His exams do require that you know the material backwards and forwards, but the material tested is entirely predictable. He is perfectly honest about the format of the exam, and the past problem sets and exams are good indicators of what will show up. The mechanism question is usually a gimme, and the synthesis problems have fewer steps than those on problem sets. In short, if you put in the time to actually learn the material, you will very likely do well.

Jun 2009

Professor Lambert is a fantastic professor. He is approachable and passionate about organic chemistry. I didn't do well at in Organic I, was horrified to take this class but thanks to Tristan I did well and somehow found organic chemistry surprisingly enjoyable. It's orgo, so you'll either love it or hate it, but Professor Lambert at least tries to appease the people that hate it. His exams are straightforward and he goes through different tools in his office hours that give a way to approach the material. All in all this is one of the best pre-med requirements I have taken at Columbia and if you can get Professor Lambert consider yourself blessed.

May 2009

What a great professor! He is approachable, humorous and human. He put together clear and very cohesive lectures and posts all his notes online so if you miss class you can check the lectures online. That said, it is best to go to class since sometimes he will clarify mistakes he's made in his notes or change what's in them. He will take any amount of time after class to answer questions from students; additionally, while he sometimes delivers lectures in a sleep-inducing tone of voice, he crams in jokes whenever he can. His exams were very fair; if you understand the reactions you will do very well. One sidenote - there were two sections; one would take midterms on Thursday and one would take the exam the following Monday and usually the latter exam was more difficult. However, the MW section took the final exam three days before the other section and had a little less material and I've heard a slightly easier exam. So it's a compromise. I would definitely recommend taking organic chemistry with this professor.

Dec 2008

Prof. Rojas is, hands down, the best science teacher I had at Barnard/Columbia for the reasons that every other reviewer has already noted. Even compared to humanities classes (I was a humanities major), I think this class was extremely well taught and helped you appreciate orgo (somehow). That said, it's no walk in the park, but what I do appreciate about this class is that the resources he gives you entitles everyone an equal chance to do well. Here are the rules: 1. Attend every lecture and recitation session, no exceptions. If you miss a lecture (bc of an emergency) get the notes immediately, go over them and make sure you get caught up. 2. Do the problem sets before the recitation. 3. Go to at least 1 or 2 office hour sessions a week. He holds one almost everyday, there really is no excuse to not attend. Also, if you can't make any of them, he'll meet with you on your own. Don't be intimidated by his cultish followers, who try to hog up all the time asking questions. Be bold and ask yours too. 4. Study for the tests at least 2 weeks ahead in advance. He tests understanding, not how well you can memorize. 5. Form a study group, with smart, kind-hearted folks. Although, this is not absolutely necessary, it definitely helps and, if nothing else, when everyone else is partying on the Thursday night before an orgo exam, you don't have to be cooped up all alone and scared in butler. 6. SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE TESTS - I can't say this enough. The test requires critical thinking. You need to be human (not half man half red bull) when you take it. Lastly, 7. Don't get sick. I know this sounds stupid, but I really mean it. Take your vitamin C pills, flu shot, cut off coughing friends, etc. Take care of your body and sleep because getting sick can absolutely hurt your chances of doing well in this class. Ok, well that was longer than I intended, but I sincerely hope this info helps you. And I also think you should consider capping the number of credits you take to 15 during these semesters.

May 2008

AMAZING!!! I'm a rising senior that has taken a plethora of pre-med classes, and Professor Snyder is the first professor I have had that shows a genuine care for his students. Needless to say that he is brilliant and gives great, organized lectures, he strives to make your experience painless and fun. He works very hard--holding a ton of office hours, responds quickly to emails, and grades the exams fast. he is certainly one of the BEST professors i have had at columbia. DO NOT MISS OUT ON HIM!!!

Apr 2008

Professor Snyder is hands down the best science professor I have had at Columbia. I truly can't say enough about how great he is at doing what teachers do: teach. He is extremely thorough and makes the material easy to understand. I can honestly say I've learned more in this semester of organic chemistry than in a whole year of my other science courses. As to Prof. Snyders willingness to help students, it is of a type which is not seen at Columbia. Office hours twice a week, review sessions before exams, and he is always in class a half an hour before and after each class answering questions from crazed pre-meds that would drive even Mother Teresa to madness. To be able to deal with some of the most competitive, annoying, and brown-nosing students on the planet Earth and still be able to come across as friendly and genuinely willing to help is a marvel to me. I couldn't do it, I have enough frustration with my overzealous partner in lab to make me want to drink the halogenated waste container, God knows were there long enough every Thursday for me to do it. All in all, Professor Snyder is an execellent and caring professor. To do well, focus on the lecture material and past problem sets and exams. I didn't crack the book and knew only the reactions and mechanisms he gave and was completely prepared. Go to the office hours if you can, they're pretty valuable, although you should probably bring a bag to be sick in when you see the amount of brown nosing that occurs.

Jan 2008

Perhaps I'm the only one who did not appreciate Snyder. Yes, everything about his personality and great lecturing style is true. HOWEVER, I will give a couple of warnings to provide a little bit more balanced feedback. 1. If you are a text book learner (like myself) DO NOT take the class. It is based on the lecture and even though most students would be willing to buy a second textbook to do better in the class, he doesn’t assign one even though he doesn’t really use the mcmurry at all. For that matter, if you are not a morning person (like myself and most students I know) DO NOT take the class. You need to show up on time at 9 am three times a week, and what's more, you have to be conscious at that hour. Do not kid yourself - you will not listen to the recorded lectures, and even if you do, they won't do you much good without watching as he performs the mechanisms on the board. (Getting the notes from someone and listening to the lectures is not much better) 2. What the grading is based on is EVIL. The numerous graded problem sets and the importance of recitation quizzes - SUCKS. The problem sets are really difficult and really hard to do well on. You will spend hours doing these things. They assume that you already know the material and can apply it to trick questions. It means constantly staying on topof the material - which if you have nothing else going on in your life is possible, but, especially if you’re a bit more of a crammer, this is really frustrating. Same with the recitation quizzes - and warning - shop TAs, it will be worth it to have a good one. 3. What he says about no curve - is basically true. Perhaps you won’t get a C if you get a 73 on an exam, but you won’t get higher than a low B and probably a B-. This is not Cornish. Finally, if you are set on choosing a semester of immersing yourself in orgo and spending hours and hours on a class that for most of you won’t help with anything else you do (how many of us are organic chemists) or doing well on the MCATS (for those of you who are premeds), here is some practical advice to help with the semester of hell you are committing yourself to. Just remember, this is not Cornish. Orgo II is not theory, it is lots of specific information that all ties together and just getting the gist will not be enough. You will not be able to 'just get by' as you did in Cornish, or just cram. Remember that the grading counts about 25% of stuff not exam based and you need to keep up to do well in it. Snyder might be great teacher for those who want to go on to graduate work in organic chemistry. And, while it is very refreshing to have a dynamic lecturer with a great personality in the science classes, understand what you are signing yourself up for.

Dec 2007

Prof. Merrer is exceedingly organized; that is the best thing about this class. That sounds lame, but organic chemistry is difficult enough, so her ability to present it in a clear manner is refreshing. The tests are difficult, but if you stay on top of the material, go to office hours, do the un-graded problem sets, and work really hard, you will most likely do well. It's a hard class, but what do you expect? Prof. Merrer teaches it well, but the responsibility is on you to spend a good amount of time really learning the material. There are mostly pre-meds and Chem majors in the class, some of whom manage to get 100s on exams.... I believe the class is curved, at the end, to a B-/C+ as other Organic classes are.

Nov 2007

Professor Snyder is both a great professor and a difficult one. He just arrived at Columbia last year so it was his first semester teaching undergraduates. Within the first few weeks he knew the names of nearly everyone in the class (even with a class size of nearly 150) and really cared about how each student did. He made sure to have office hours at times which students could attend, had extra office hours during the days before an exam, and was extraordinarily helpful in answering questions both in office hours and after class. Professor Snyder would even set up meetings with individual students if that was what was required. Basically, if you show an interest in learning Organic Chemistry, he really responds and seeks to be of help. However, his class is by no means a breeze. He adds extra material beyond the book to fill out the gaps he sees in McMurry and the tests are difficult, though doable if you put in the effort. If you are ready to work, Prof Snyder and the TAs are there to help you through a difficult class.

Aug 2007

Professor Lambert is a sweet guy and in five years will be a truly excellent teacher. This semester was his first teaching the class, so it hit the expected road bumps. The exams were either too easy or far too difficult, which was frustrating in terms of gauging how much and what to study. Also, he used a microphone, which is a huge soporific for some reason and always seemed to start feedback-ing at the most inconvenient times. However, Lambert was highly approachable and seemed to really want everyone to do well. He is enthusiastic, which is to me one of the most important traits in a professor. After a semester of Cornish (highly organized and highly demanding) this was a bit of a letdown, but as he becomes more organized and develops a more sure teaching style he will become one of the department's best teachers.

Aug 2007

The man is AWESOME. His lectures are rather fast-paced and color coded. He takes the first bit of every class to review the last lecture, just to refresh it in everyone's mind. He also wrote a series of notes that he uploaded to Courseworks because he thought the textbook was bunk. So, yeah, he pretty much wrote a textbook.

May 2007

This is such a great class....Prof Snyder is probably the best instructor I've had at Columbia. I think he does an amazing job of presenting the material--even at 9am. He's really available outside of class with something like 3 or 4 office hours a week and he always responds to emails immediately. He does review sessions before the exams--instead of having the TAs do something....you can tell that he really cares about instructing his students and makes this course a priority. I am not just saying this stuff because I did well---I only got a B+. Here's the only problem with the course--because Prof Snyder is such a great instructor everyone learns the material and so the curve is pretty tough and it becomes really, really hard to get an A. Nevertheless Prof Snyder is really great about explaining the grading system--he even tells you if you are close to an A/B before the final exam....I emailed him at the end of the semester about my grade and he responded within the hour with a really detailed response. While its hard to get an "A" or even an "A-" Prof Snyder is a really great instructor and really made me enjoy Orgo II.

May 2007

What an amazing, amazing man! Professor Snyder is one of the kindest, most organized, most committed, most accomodating professors I have encountered at Columbia. First of all, his lectures were wonderfully concise, clear, helpful, and easy to follow. He always started out with a 5-10 minute review of the material from the previous lecture, which was extremely helpful, and then he would continue on to give an interesting, logical lecture that never left us feeling any confusion. His lectures made the textbook seem worthless. Of course, this made going to class essential, but really, it was a pleasure, because I would always come out knowing exactly what was going on. He provided many, many extra problems and study guides to supplement the textbook (which generally sucks), and his problem sets were also helpful and doable. His tests were always fair, and I never felt like they were out to trick me. Besides his teaching abilities, he is unbelievably kind, has a wonderful sense of humor that he let's out once in a while, and he truly cares for his students. Get this--he somehow knew my name before I had ever even spoken to him (which means he must have memorized our names by looking at the guide they give profs on courseworks). In a lecture class of almost 100 students, that's incredible!

May 2007

Snyder is the best science teacher I have had at Columbia. After a bunch of so-so teachers in gen chem and orgo I, it was refreshing to have a teacher who gave interesting lectures, gave fair exams, and really wanted the class to learn the material. His tests are not easy at all, but they are fair- you wont ever sit there asking 'when did we learn this?' He is also more than happy to help if you go to his office hours, and is really patient with people asking lots of questions. Hes also entertaining in lecture and makes jokes and puns that lighten up the subject matter.

Apr 2007

If you have to take Organic Chemistry, and you see that Prof. Snyder is teaching, make it a priority to set your schedule around that class. Being a former high school teacher, I was impressed by the way Prof. Snyder incorporated effective learning strategies into his teaching. Lectures were not only lucid, but also cohesive, both within a single class and from one class to the next. He also helped to clear up many of the ambiguities from Orgo I by explaining things deemed unimportant by other professors, such as details of mechanisms and reactivity trends. And his cheesy-but-endearing humor certainly helped. However, the work is not necessarily easy. Problem sets and quizzes are meant to challenge and prepare you for exams. Also, there is a lot of material, hence what many feel is a race through all of the topics. However, his lecture strategies, particularly how he recaps the previous lecture, help to "slow" things down, and should not be ignored or missed. So if you keep up with the work, by the end of the semester you will no doubt realize how much he's helped you to conceptualize organic chemistry, particularly when you are preparing for the MCAT. (He'll even hold out-of-class sessions for MCAT chemistry review, which also shows how much he genuinely cares about his students.) It should also be mentioned that at the end of the final class, the students gave him a standing ovation that must've lasted 30 seconds (think about it -- that's pretty long). He's easily the best professor for the pre-med chemistry (maybe even non-chemistry) classes, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's the best in the entire department.

Apr 2007

Prof. Katz is not a nice man by any means. He belittles students both in the class and outside of it. He also just doesn't know how to communicate to the class or convey information to it. He just seems to be on a very different wavelength, a really different world from the rest of us. This seems too bad. It's rare to see a teacher enjoy what it is that he does so much, and he's having an incredibly good time up there. He can also be quite helpful, in, for example, office hours--that is, he can explain material there and he knows the material extremely well. So this just seems too bad that he doesn't really seem there with the students.

Apr 2007

Lambert is a nice normal youngish guy and he explains things fairly well in class. That being said, he also is a horrible tester. His tests are way too long/difficult and the synthesis problems often border on nightmarish. Part of the blame lays with Orgo itself - it is a necessary evil that is going to be painful no matter who you take it with (especially 2nd semester). But Lambert's tests are worse than Doubldeday or Cornish (I've been told by classmates) on difficulty level. The peak of the bell-curve on our last test was in the 30s (with an ave of 45). Lambert seems to assume we are at a level a bit beyond first year Orgo, that this isn't all new and confusing stuff - i.e. he raced through an entire chapter's worth of complicated reactions the class before the exam and *poof* we were expected to be at an advanced level of understanding of all the mechanisms in addition to the last 3 chpts in time for the lengthy exam of jumbled synthesis problems. I understand the idea of testing a level beyond where the class is at, to get a distribution, but it is frustrating to feel like you know the material but cannot reflect that on the exam because the complexity is just one step out of reach. To give some context, I took Doubleday last semester, had no trouble getting an A. Lowest premed/science grade before this class: A-. I am expecting something in the B range. Like I said, a lot of it is just the nature of the Orgo beast. Put in enough time and you can do well with anyone - Lambert's tests will just take a lot more prep time if you want to get an A.

Jul 2006

Dr. Nuckolls is a great teacher. Period. Now here are the things you need to do to succeed in his class. 1) Go to every lecture and take notes on EVERYTHING he puts on the board. Don't ever miss a lecture. He covers reactions that are not in the textbook then often puts these reactions on his tests. You should read the textbook and take notes for reinforcement, but study the lecture notes way more than the textbook. 2) Do the homework problems and make sure you get the answers to these problems. Keys are almost always posted by TAs. 3) Try to do the past exams at least a week ahead of time then make sure you go to Nuckolls' office hours and get the answers, since he does not post keys to past exams. Doing this is absolutely essential to succeeding in this class. Often his exams will repeat questions or themes from previous exams, sometimes verbatim. So know the solutions to all the problems from past exams cold. If you follow this advice, you will almost always beat the mean on his exam, because most people in the class don't bother to understand all or any of the past exam questions, then get hosed when they reappear on the actual test. 4) Write down on index cards every reaction he covers in class, every reaction in the practice exams you missed, and every reaction in the homework you missed, and drill them. Again, this is essential. You don't want to have to try to figure it all out on the fly during the test. You only have an hour. Know it cold. 5) Try not to be sloppy on your tests. Small mistakes can cost you big. If all this sounds labor intensive, it is. But it will get you results. Basically, succeeding in orgo means knowing your stuff. The crucial thing most people don't realize is that, for this class, that involves extra work i.e. doing the practice exams and understanding them fully, understanding all the homework, knowing inside out the extra reactions Nuckolls teaches you in lecture, in addition to the standard material covered in the textbook. Honestly it's not that hard. It just takes consistent effort. If you put in the work outlined above, you will surely succeed.

May 2006

Prof. Nuckolls was extremely rude, and behaved in an arrogant, dismissive manner. He did not return student emails. He did not release answer keys for exams ("talk to the TAs". However, they only knew solutions to 70% of questions and guessed at the last 30%). If he's going to have a guest lecturer, Nuckolls does not email the class to let them know how long he'll be out (or that he'll be out at all). Chalk on blackboard is his modus operandi. Good luck reading his handwriting. He writes on the board seeming as fast as he can and doesn't slow down to clarify. Often, he will say, midway through drawing a reaction, "and you can take it from here". About 40% of the time, I couldn't. Old exams are handed out largely without solutions. They are solved chalk on blackboard a couple of days before the exams in a hurried fashion and not all problems are covered. Exams test minutiae that is glossed over in class much more heavily than common sense would suggest. In that sense, Nuckolls likes to "hide the ball" regarding what will be tested. Exam scores are usually in the 40's, but the course grade is curved, of course.

May 2006

I was quite impressed with Leighton as a professor. His lectures were extremely organized and he did a very thorough job of explaining the material. He also had helpful TA's, gave homework far enough ahead of the due date to allow students to get help in office hours or recitations, and was very good about answering questions. I would clearly recommend him for second semester orgo if you want to come out with a good understanding of the material. However, all of these benefits come at a significant price. The grading, while very fair, is brutally tough. An earlier reviewer who said that you can still end up with a B+ even with above average scores on all the tests is absolutely right. And you if score above the mean but by only a few points, you'll probably end up with a B. While Leighton does give you a chance to earn some points on his tests (means were in the 60's and 70's, much higher than the ones I've heard from the Nuckolls section), scoring in the 80's and 90's is still extremely difficult, which may come as a bit of a shock for people coming out of Katz's 1st semester section (I was one of those). Despite the tough grading I would still recommend Leighton for the quality of the lectures. But be prepared to sweat for 16 weeks and then just hope the final goes well if you want a decent grade.

Jan 2006

Professor Rojas makes me happy to have chosen to go to Barnard. He explains orgo so clearly in lecture and daily office hours that he suggests not reading the text (unless you don't understand something). Instead, he suggests spending time making flashcards, and doing problems (I also recommend reading your class notes, attending as many office hours as possible, and studying orgo every day so you don't get behind/ cram). His exams are difficult, but he curves at the end and all orgo classes require intense studying. Overall, Rojas is a wonderful teacher and person and makes orgo enjoyable.

Dec 2005

Leighton is probably the best professor I've had here. His lectures are amazingly clear and organized-- I wish he taught first semester orgo and biology. As one of my friends said, you may even find that you "wish you could take Orgo for the rest of your life." His notes are so good that you'll probably never consult your textbook again, except maybe for practice problems. The course is difficult, mostly because there's a LOT of mechanistic details/reagents to remember (if Orgo were open-book, there wouldn't be so much to it) and because everyone in the class seems to study an inhuman amount, but exams and grading are extremely fair. If you spend enough time studying, you'll be fine. If you only leave yourself one day to study, you will probably struggle for a B-range grade unless you have an amazing memory.

Jun 2005

DON"T TAKE HIM!!! First, he was not in class for two weeks (and we were not giving any prior warning, because heaven forfend he write an e-mail); Dr. Katz showed up to teach the lectures. But the TA's weren't there, so if you had any questions about what Dr. Katz covered, you were out of luck. Although the means are ridiculously low, many of the students who score a 2 or 4 (yes, out of 100) drop out by the end of the semester, so the curve doesn't really help you out; don't kid yourself. Be smart and register (early!) for Leighton. With all the students in has class, you're almost guaranteed a better grade.

Jun 2005

I took Professor LeightonÂ’s class because my TA from last semester recommended him to me. He said that he was a clear and well-organized lecturer and he was right. I have to admit before I started taking Orgo II I was already a bit apprehensive. I heard awful stories from the premeds before me that Orgo II would be the worst class I would have to take to get into medical school. By the time I finished the class, I didnÂ’t find that the case at all. Perhaps Professor Leighton went out of his way to make it enjoyable. I found myself less confused than last semester and the reason could be his teaching. He went by his notes and I didnÂ’t use my textbook at all. His notes are really the bible to organic chemistry II and if you want to do well in the class I suggest you write over the reactions numerous times until you see electron movement in the mechanisms when you sleep. Even though Professor Leighton is an awesome professor it doesnÂ’t save you from the other premeds you see at the library everyday with their o chem books and notes. I have to say in this class there is almost no curve. The other downside is that the final can ruin your grade if you have been doing well all semester, since itÂ’s worth 45%. It may seem unfair, but with a class size of almost 200 students it is hard to grade everyone fairly. All I have to say is study really really hard for the final, so it doesnÂ’t bring you down. If you want to learn Orgo II well take it with Professor Leighton because the class will be only a few of the premed classes that you will actually enjoy.

May 2005

Leighton is a great teacher. His lectures are filled with a ton of information so make sure to come to every class and take very good notes if you want to do well. If you write down everything he puts up on the board, and study it for the tests you will probably do well. Although everyone says Orgo II is harder than I, I found II to be much easier because Leighton is such a good teacher. HW doesn't count for more than 5% of the grade, the 3 midterms are 45% and the final is 50%. Take Leighton.

May 2005

His notes are pretty good, and they cover exactly everything you need to know on the test, so as long as you write down everything he says and you study it well, you well do fine on his tests. He also will put problems from the book on the test, so if you take the additional time to do all the problems from the book that he assigns you will be more than prepared for his exams. The only problem with his class is that it was at 9 am.

May 2005

Prof. Leighton is the best orgo teacher you can have! He gets through all the required material and the notes are amazing and organized. He is very clear and does not digress. He doesnÂ’t expect you to memorize useless pKa values like Cornish did but there is still tons of memorization, but thatÂ’s orgo for ya. The only bad thing about the class is it is total cutthroat competition. Grading is BRUTALLY fair, which ends up disappointing. I did above avg on every midterm (except for the one I dropped) and the final and ended up with a B+ meaning that the class is curved around a BÂ…very brutal. But I guess this is the way it is at Columbia, when a teacher is good they expect their students to know their stuff and it is more likely that they will, so it is crucial that you stay ontop of the material. Despite this I highly recommend Leighton. If you take orgo do not miss out on an opportunity to be in his class.

May 2005

I don't think I realized until the end of the course how well Colin organized the material in orgo II. Orgo II is challenging because there is a ton of mechanistic detail to learn/memorize, but Colin had a way of presenting the material so that you could organize and compartmentalize the material in your head. When I was studying for the final (which was comprehensive), I realized just how good his lectures were. Having succeeded in orgo II (I got an A), I would like to pass on some wisdom. Orgo is a weedout class. You will do best if you learn as you go along because the volume of material necessitates your having a command of the material as the semester progresses. Even though the homework is not required, I would highly recommend forcing yourself not only to do it, but to UNDERSTAND exactly what you're doing. It will reinforce your understanding of the material and make it easier to study for the exams. Second, because it is a weedout class, the exams will be about 1/3 stuff that basically everyone will know, another 1/3 that about half to a third of the class will know and about 1/3 material that about 5 to 10 percent of the class will know. How can you teach yourself the stuff that only 5-10 percent of the class will know? PAY ATTENTION TO THE SEEMINGLY UNIMPORTANT REACTIONS HE COVERS. For example, in the third unit, we studied the Claisen and the Dieckman condensation in great detail. He also covered about 4 other condensations that seemed very unimportant (he spent about 5 minutes on them during lecture) but showed up on the tests (both the midterm and the final) and meant about 1/6 of your exam grade if you couldn't do it. Bottom line: you actually have to learn everything if you want to get an A -- it's not one of those classes where having a grasp of the big picture will suffice. You have to know ALL the minor details. The reason that Colin is a good teacher is because his lectures give you an excellent framework to organize all of the details you have to know so that you can recall them quickly during the exam. If you can handle a 9 am MWF, he's well worth it, but be sure to attend every lecture.

May 2005

I thinked that Matt sucked. While he may be intelligent and know lots about chemistry, he does not convey this. I begin to wonder how in the hell is he a TA. His recitation sessions consists of rambling and more rambling. His recitation section was almost pointless.

Apr 2005

Matt is hands down the WORST TA I have ever had at Columbia. His lectures are disorganized, he knows shit about organic chemistry (one time he wanted to show us how to synthesize crystal meth only to forget exactly what crystal meth looks like), and he is one confusing individual. I actually stopped attending recitation after a couple of weeks because his explainations would always contradict Prof. Nuckolls and Matt was always totally clueless about what we were even doing in lecture because his ass was never in lecture! And he randomly grades problem sets and quizzes, you could miss one step of a mechanism or a synthesis and he wouldn't even give partial credit. Stay away from any recitation or class that Matt maybe be teaching because he's a poor teacher, can barely explain concepts and will just confuse the hell out of you.

Apr 2005

just say no kids- he is a nice enough man but our class is getting killed this spring semester (even though it was smooth sailing to an A during Fall semester)- and let me tell you, when the mean is a 67 and the dude doesn't curve that means that about 75% of the class is completely and totally f'ed- either we are all stupid or he simply can't teach 2nd semester orgo in a way more than 20 kids in the class can understand-- take Nuckolls or Leighton.

Jan 2005

Prof. Doubleday is a very nice man. He seems to want his students to do well, and he probably does some really important research. However, he cannot effectively teach orgo. His lectures are all over the place, he fills the boards with pieces of reactions that you have to later decipher on your own, and he simply is not clear in his explanations. The only good part is that he follows the book (horrible though it may be) page by page, so you will be able to teach yourself the material. Simply put: this class was an extremely frustrating experience for me, both sitting in lecture and the long hours I spent teaching the material to myself. I ended up doing well in the class because I taught myself the material - so you can too.

Dec 2004

It is easy to get lost in Doubleday's lectures, or to forget the point of what he is explaining. He does not offer insight into complicated mechanisms unless there are specific questions from the students. The emphasis of his exams are on text book material, and he often shows incorrect mechanisms on the board because "that's how Jones explains it." Although he clearly loves chemistry, he has difficulty making his student's excited about it because they are often too confused to appreciate what they are learning.

Dec 2004

I disagree with the negative reviews of Professor Doubleday. I can understand why some people would dislike his lecture style, it can be unorganized and have strange periods of silence while he's trying to collect his thoughts, however I thought the material was very understandable and do-able. The reactions were not very hard, and the class was mostly memorization. I may not be the most impartial person because I love orgo, but I think it's important to let people know that the class is not impossible. The exams are very similar to the practice exams that he gives to the class, there are no surprises in the exams, and Doubleday is very accessible during his office hours and can explain things very well if you ask him to clarify something.

May 2004

We can glorify Professor Leighton for all the things listed below, and oh how true they are, but one key difference between Leighton's Orgo and just about every other class in the department has not been brought to light. The things he emphasizes in lectures are given exactly proportional attention on the exams, granting students the satisfaction of knowing that long study hours paid off. And he doesn't do this by taking exam questions straight out of the lectures -- rather, he makes it perfectly clear in the problems, often with a friendly hint, which of the many concepts he teaches he wants you to apply. Exams vary in difficulty, and so do the grades -- one of the consequences of such organization and clarity is that you'll really kick yourself for not getting something when you realize looking at the key that it was so simple and straight out of the notes. One more thing -- when you finish Orgo 1 with Cornish or Katz, just burn your textbook, because its convoluted and incomplete, and Leighton's material is so much better and more interesting, and of course, much more relevant to exam stuff.

May 2004

If you are going to take the 2nd semester of organic chemistry, take it with Professor Leighton. He is a very straightforward lecturer, and his sort of intense clarity may make him seem a little cold, but he turns out to be a very nice guy as well as a good teacher. A lot of material is covered in this class, but Professor Leighton gets through everything, and makes it all as simple as it can be. He is definitely helpful in office hours (as are the TAs), and like the other reviewers say, he is interested in helping you, not in failing you. His test questions can be a little tricky, but they are fair. Professor Leighton seems to know everythign there is to know about the subject, and he expresses his knowledge extremely well. He is always very prepared, which makes him easier to follow. After taking organic chemistry II with him, I wouldn't want to take it with anyone else.

May 2004

Professor Leighton is by far one of the best pre-med professors I've had. I agree with the other review that there is a great deal of competition in this class but that's true of any class, especially the pre-med requirements. Leighton's concern for his students is evident from day one when he tells you that he is not out to make this a pre-med weeding out course but is more interested in you learning the material. He takes his time to draw out mechanisms carefully and throughly explain things. If you still have questions, his TA's were great and he is always available either by email or in his office hours. He also would hold extra office hours before exams and tried to ensure that you had every opportunity to get all your questions answered. He's a great lecturer and cracks the occassional joke. I HIGHLY recommend taking his course. I really enjoyed it and I know a lot of other people that did too. From his class, I've started to consider becoming a chem major (a sentiment felt by others as well).

Feb 2004

Reasonable, helpful, approachable. Her lectures are well organized and her office hours are always helpful. She cares about her students and is passionate about chemistry. She is definitely one of the best professors that I've had thus far. If you keep up with the work and put in the effort, you'll both do well and enjoy the class.

Jan 2004

All right, Cornish, I’ll find a way to be nice. She is friendly, and naturally entertaining – calls herself a “space cadet” for being a little bit inept in administrative issues, but this isn’t really true – she’s fine. Prof. Cornish will interrupt her generally well organized lectures with random remarks about current events, or about her recent lecturing trips abroad, and when I was in her class, about the dramatic Yankees-Red Sox series. I don’t even know if she realizes how odd it sounds, but it’s certainly hilarious. The only issue I had with work in this class is that she loves to give long problem sets at the worst times – and an exam covering four chapters that she doesn’t really go over well in class, right after Thanksgiving break! We tried to get the exam moved, but it didn’t go through because a few people had issues. She talks a lot in class about what goes on in her laboratory – mainly research on new protein syntheses. The last exam question is often something on this subject – and if not, the second half of the exam is all thought questions of some sort. Premeds, save yourselves the heartache, and the grade, and take Katz. Nobody should even consider Cornish unless Orgo was your childhood hobby. The means on tests are always in the 60’s. You achieve the mean by knowing the obvious stuff – even a cursory glance at the material earns a mean grade. Additional study is likely to be useless, unless you decide to order and read every issue of Nature magazine ever published – this is where her exam challenge questions come from. Much better teacher than Katz, but you’re work will pay off a lot better in Katz’s class.

Jul 2003

By far this was the worst premed class I ever took at Columbia (even worse than Gchem). I went to office hours once to ask questions about a lecture, and I left feeling incredibly stupid. Doubleday made me feel as if I was wasting his time, and he was incredibly arrogant in answering my questions. Take someone else if you can for Orgo.

Apr 2003

Cornish is a great lecturer and instructor. She really explains the concepts well... her tests are probably more difficult than Katz's...but there's a curve so it won't really matter which class you take. If you want to learn the material really well, take Cornish.

Apr 2003

Nuckolls is a great teacher! Before I took orgo2, everyone said that it is thousand times harder than orgo 1. Seriously, I did not find orgo 2 hard at all. He explains everything in detail and clearly (and somewhat fast), and it is sometimes possible to get lost in the lecture. But once you review the lecture notes by your own, they make sense. There are millions of reactions to learn in the class (as opposed to 4 or 5 reactions in orgo 1), but they are not hard. They all make perfect sense if the professor is able to present them in an organized way. That is what Nuckolls was able to do, and that is why the class was a piece of cake. One good thing is that I did not have to study from the textbook at all!! I just reviewed lecture notes before the exams, and did last year's exams for studying and I did great

Jun 2002

At first there weren't enough people who registered for his class because he was new to the school. But soon we found out that Professor Nuckolls knows his shit about organic chemistry! His lectures are intense, fast-paced, and loaded with information, so get there on time or else you'll spend the rest of the class catching up, no joke! Professor Nuckolls is dedicated to making sure that his students understand every single bit of the material; he would draw the mechanisms so many times to emphasize his point that you start to dream about them. He's really flexible when it comes to office hours, you can usually make appointments to meet with him individually if you can't make it to his office hours. He's really nice and patient to students, and sometimes he would even crack a few cheesy jokes.

May 2001

If you're not a pre-med or some sort of science major then stay as far away from this course as possible. Expect high levels of competition amongst students as many are vying for spots in highly competitive med schools. Professor Leighton is a great teacher. You probably won't realize it until the end of the course when you're studying for the final, but he really does a great job of tying together an enormous amout of material. Professor Leighton breaks from the traditional mold of a teacher of a pre-med required class in that he's not out to get you, he's there to help you.

Jan 2000

A straightforward, businesslike lecturer who explains things clearly. She is neither scintillating nor as boring as my Orgo I professor. The problem sets are extremely difficult but not mandatory, and the exams are thorough and difficult but not devious. Like with any Orgo class, DO YOUR PROBLEM SETS.