Dalibor Sames

Dec 2020

This class is split in half with Tom teaching through the midterm, and Dali teaching from the midterm through the final. It is essentially two classes lumped into one because Dali's half is non-cumulative. Tom goes very quickly. He has packets that he teaches from with lots and lots of content that he only goes over some of. This half was a lot more work to me because you have to keep up and review the things he doesn't go over. He is always willing to answer questions if you are lost though. His problem sets are quite difficult, as is the midterm. There are also Monday Night Pset times when there are separate sets of problems that are to be completed to go over at that time. Dali goes at a snail's pace in comparison. He knows exactly what he wants you to know, and he teaches that to you. His problem sets are mostly based on the readings (papers) he assigns. The exam also is largely easier than Tom's in the sense that most of its content has been provided to you in some form earlier. The Monday Night things were scheduled for this half but largely forgotten about. Overall, learned a lot. It was a lot of work though (as grad classes are). Definitely for people who care about organic synthesis.

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

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

Where do I begin. Well one thing for sure....DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. ever. Don't make scheduling an excuse. Do everything in your power to take Organic Chemistry with another professor. First of all, this class is NOT CURVED. You might think, ok, so what. But listen. There is a predetermined grading point cut-off that is pretty generous, but nothing that gets graded (exams, problem sets, or quizzes) are graded on a curve. So you're on your own. With no curve, you would assume that exams and problem sets are fair. Nope. Not at all. Asides from being tough material, barely any partial credit is given problems (that are between 5-20 points each). My friend went over her exam with Sames and he said that she grasped the concepts, but since her answer was wrong, no credit. Boom there goes 20 pts. And another 20 here. Missed a hydrogen on predict-the-product-question? Minus 5pts...out of 5. What is probably worse is the fact that the TAs grade differently. You and your friend may have similar answers, but would get completely different grades. This is 1) organic chemistry, which is full of mechanisms full of steps, not one quick short answers and 2) the grading system is completely unfair. The class averages for all three exams have been low/middle B-s,and Sames has a great tendency to put the highest and lowest scores on the board, and while the highest score is not surprising, the lowest of 3/145 is first of all, very unfortunate, and Sames makes it even worse by frowny face next to it. WELL, we would be doing better if you taught us better!! As for Sames's teaching style.... he comes into the lecture hall with a wine glass full of water, talks about how much we will be covering that day, and proceed to cover about 0.01% of it. There's not lecture notes, so you are forced to go to every class, but at the same time, it's not worth it. I would sit in class, relatively close to the board (the class size is small by the way, the wise ones chose other sections), and the whole class, my face is like a squished pug's face because of how small his handwriting is, and how incomprehensible it is. At the same time, it seems that Sames is teaching the blackboard and not us, the students, and talks in such a low monotone voice, so you would get a gold medal if you understand what he says or writes. He also likes to turn into a bio teacher every other lecture and take up a good chunk of class-time talking about biological mechanisms etc.... If you want to actually learn from the class, the TA's aren't too great either. The ones my semester were either too sassy to really answer your questions, or actually doesn't know how to answer your questions. Now the final. Be prepared to be tested on about 50% of the material that was never covered in class. I will never forget the lengthy email Professor Sames sent out describing the 6 or so chapters were were responsible for the final exam, even though we never covered them because of his terrible teaching plans and methods. Don't even bother to approach Professor Sames, or the TAs about anything regarding grades, the final, the class, your sanity, anything. They will think that their methods are fair, and then go one to say that it is our fault for not putting enough effort to do well in the class. So like I said, avoid Professor Sames by all means. The fact that he has tenure does not give him the right to not care about his students, and really create a class like this. But yea, avoid his section. Even the post-bacs are complaining...and when the post-bacs complain, you know there is something very wrong.

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 2010

One thing to look out for with this guy is that he goes on massive tangents so it can get a little confusing what he'll ask for on exams. Basically, any reactions not mentioned in the book is far game (actually he probably will ask about them) but any complicated molecule/reaction will probably not be asked. take good notes in class- these will be very helpful, but his exams are also quite straightforward so anything that seems like a pretty big tangent, probably is, and therefore you will not be tested on it. Study his PS and practice problems A LOT the book problems are not at all what the exam questions are like. use the book for major rules but use class notes for detail. He also always puts extra credit problems on the exams which are usually easier than actual exam problems so take advantage of those!

Dec 2009

I don't think Sames is the best professor in the world, but he's certainly not the worst. His lectures can be a bit disorganized, especially since he likes going off on tangents about his favorite molecules and mechanisms. Usually, only a very, very tiny aspect of those complex mechanisms is actually relevant to what you're learning. This tendency would be endearing if it weren't for the fact that at other times, he moves very quickly through the concepts, almost giving you no time to absorb the material. We ended up skipping an entire chapter this semester, and I think it must have had to do with his poor planning. However, he's pretty nice in person and is always willing to answer questions before and after class. I did get the impression, though, that he didn't care much for teaching. He occasionally cancelled his office hours without any notice (even if the exam was the next day), and one of the TAs had to fill in for him a couple of times this semester. His exams are very fair. There are some tricky problems here and there, but if you do the book problems and the problem sets, you should be fine. He sometimes gets lazy with his test problems and uses problems lifted from the book (with only very minor variations). On this semester's final, he reused an entire problem from one of the earlier practice exams. On the whole, I think Sames is as easy as orgo gets.

Dec 2009

I found him to be a poor lecturer who was sometimes difficult to follow. Random tangents and disorganized. I stopped going to class, which was apparently a poor decision, the exams go far beyond the book, I basically memorized the chapters and was still screwed because there would be these random things he expected us to know. The TAs frequently uttered things like "Dali wants you to know this, although I don't know why." or "This wasn't in class or the book but Dali for some reason thinks you should know it." The practice exams and problem sets are more useful than the text, but the answer keys they give us rarely have good explanations (or any!). I found myself having to Wikipedia extensively.

Feb 2009

Professor Sames is truly great. He doesn’t want to screw anyone over and is very generous with grading. As long as you read every chapter and do all the problem sets you shouldn’t have much trouble getting an A. Some reviewers mentioned studying from notes. I almost never studied from class notes and preparedly almost completely from the book and TA review notes. He does mention some small details that are not in the book every now and then which might show up on exams so if you have the time go to class and pay attention. I came to this class with extreme fear of orgo but left it feeling like I was an orgo whiz. The horror stories you hear aren’t true with Sames. Just read the book and do the problems completely (This is the only way to learn the material, you must read the book and do all the problems inside and at the end of each chapter). Do a comprehensive review before each exam and you should be fine.

Dec 2008

I say take it definitely. Yes, at times he does give some random examples or go off on tangents but thats only because he's really engaged in the subject and is trying to get the class to be too. If you do the problemsets and problems in the book, you will have no problem.

May 2008

do not listen to the culpa reviewers below, takes Sames' class. Sames taught regular orgo II this past semester in the afternoon. before the semester began, everyone registered for snyder's brutal 9 am class because of the horrible reviews on sames. but sames orgo class was great - the workload was fairly minimal, the tests were in general easy, as long as one did the textbook problems. i heard that the workload in snyder's class was BRUTAL. Sames was more than fair, and he's the nicest person ever!! and he definitely prepared us for MCAT orgo.

Mar 2007

The word "intensive" is in the course title, and so a lot of effort is required to do well. This should not be too surprising. It is not impossible to do well, but it's not easy.

May 2006

well.. lets start by saying this class is too hardcore and no one should take it except overachievers with genuine love for chemistry or dumbasses with unfailed ability to accept failures. his class is fast-paced with loaded information that cannot be found on the textbook(e.g. advanced biochem reactions). so take REALLY good notes and review them make sure you understand everything. make sure you go to the recitations. two secrets they dont tell you. the answers to the problem sets can be found if you google "C3046". also, do the exercises after each chapter, especially the ones where you have to predict the products or draw mechanism. on a final note. i think he curved around a B or B- this year (although he tells you that he doesnt curve so everyone CAN get an A... well... we all know thats BS) so you need to work *really* hard to earn a good grade, or DALI WILL OWN YOU LIKE IT'S HIS JOB

May 2005

Wow, some really pre-med harshness on SAMES..., he's really not that bad.<P> Good things bout Sames:<br> 1. Breslow has you memorize concepts, Sames makes you understand them and you leave the class with a confident grasp of organic chem.<br> 2. You'll probably bond with your classmates during this class as you will notice people bombing exams our of nowhere. THis is a good opportunity to find a cute girl in the class to study with. Something I should have done.<br> 3. Sames's tests areh tricky, though fair. It might be the second or third one till you know what he's shooting for. There are some shady ass questions though.<br> 4. You only need to study what he covers in class, alot of stuff in the book is never mentioned. And contrary to other's opinions, I didn't buy the other book and I got an A in the class just studying my notes and the problem sets. I don't consider myself a particularly smart or hardworking Columbia student. <P> Things Sames needs to work on:<br> 1. Misses classes periodically and leaves teaching to TA. I don't think Breslow ever missed. Sames just got Tenured and i guess he's pretty busy.<br> 2. Unlike Breslow, Sames is not famous or loaded. he probably will not have as many cool stories.<br> 3. The class is still at 9 am, I went to bed at 4 am every night almost 2nd semester.Brutal morning syndrome<br> 4. If you're like many in my class who thought they were badasses because they never had to work in high school to dominate, drop or start studying ALOT cause Sames doesn't mind giving alot of B's, C's, and D's to some of the brightest chem students in America.<br> 5. Sames is a classic case of someone who's really smart and good in the academic enviornment but just lacks that social ability to function in the real world. He's a DORK.<br> 6. Finally, you'll get a handout at the beginning of the semester that claims that "all students may earn and A". THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN Overall, i'm very glad i took his class. I had a genuine interest in organic chemistry even though i'll probably never use the stuff again. If you don't have a interest and are just looking for an A-,A, or A+ you probably won't get one.

May 2005

Ok, this guy is ridiculous--after a semester with Breslow, Sames doesn't even compare. He guy totally does not respect students. He didn't show up to the first class, was late repeatedly, and had the TA teach about three classes. The examples he gives in class are the most random and confusing examples possible--contrasting with the simple teaching style of Breslow who actually cares whether or not the students learn in his class. Tests are ridiculous, you might as well not study because barely anyone gets higher than a 60%, and half the material has never been seen by anyone in the class. A large number dropped the class after the 1st midterm. Sames says he intentionally makes the tests as hard as possible--it seems like he's playing a game where he gets to fail as many students as possible. He haphazardly teaches out of the book, skipping around like an unbalanced clown on a tightrope. Occasionally he will do something interesting like go over drug synthesis or dyes, but this is rare and present only at the end of the semester (when half the class is still around because the rest are sleeping). The 3rd midterm and final were easy, but by easy I mean I got about 15 points higher than average. Truly, this class is not for the weakhearted. Premeds are better off taking the general orgo class because a curve is nonexistent in Sames' class.

May 2005

I have mixed feelings about Dali's class. On the one hand, he works very hard to make sure that there is some interraction between the students and him. Lectures can be interesting at times, even if he does draw molecules much faster than you thought possible, and expects you to not only copy down the molecule but what he says. On the other hand, the tests were ridiculous. Lists of reactions where every molecule has a functional group that won't react but will be present just to confuse you. He is pretty merciless on grading (a small mistake loses you 7 points out of 10). This class is not for the weak. Breslow's class fall term started with well over 40 people. 24 people sat for this final. On the whole though, if you don't care too much about your grade, this is a good class; the final really forces you to learn and master the concepts you've learned over the course of the term.

Nov 2004

Welcome to the worst class you will ever take, taught by the worst professor you will ever have. After a semester with chemistry god Breslow, this class is an unbelievable let down. Monday and Wendesday mornings will become the bane of your existence, because this semester you HAVE to go to class. The curriculum is a hopelessly disorganized combination of the textbook, Sames's lectures, very difficult problem sets, and incomprehensible journal articles; the overlap between these is minimal, so studying for tests is nearly impossible. Sames's lecturing style is also very disorganized. He explains reactions by giving examples on the board. However, rather than picking basic examples, he picks the most complex examples he can come up with (you will be drawing rings until you would gladly shoot a benzene molecule on sight), so that way you will never know what the actual reaction is. In fact, he will make relatively easy reactions needlessly complicated, seemingly just for the sake of confusing bewildered students (those who are still awake - I promise you, there will not be many.) His monotone accent, combined with the 9am class time and the poor lecturing style, make it virtually impossible to stay awake. And then there's the grading. Major, major ouch. The means for the 3 midterms were in the 50s and 60s. About half the class dropped after the first midterm. I am NOT a grade-grubbing pre-med, and I can definitely say that this was the hardest class I have ever taken. The final was almost hilarious because it was so ridiculously hard; i say almost, because it also counted as 60% of our grade. I got an A+ first semester in Breslow's class, and despite working considerably harder second semester, I got a B. Overall, it's still worth taking this class; you won't have to take gen. chem., you get 6AP credits, and you get orgo out of your way freshman year. The price you pay, however, is a semester of pain and misery. I am friends with a lot of people who took that class, and they pretty much all agree: Sames is awful. helpful hint: for the final, STUDY AMINES!!!!

May 2003

Professor Sames provides an excellent classroom environment by asking the class questions and occasionally telling little science related stories or anecdotes. He is very approachable and always willing to take questions after class. His stimulating lecturing style shows his love of chemistry and helps one stay awake during a 10:00 am class. Students not interested in the subject matter may find the class daunting, as it requires much outside studying. You really must attend class to do well on tests, as Professor Sames only loosely follows the textbook and much of the material is only covered in class. Going to the TA's office hours is also invaluable in terms of clearing up questions. Professor Sames uses an addtional "optional" Sorrell textbook that can be found in library. Though most people didn't buy it, I did and found it incrediably useful. Although he is demanding, Professor Sames is probably the best teacher I have had a Columbia.

Aug 2001

Wow, the other reviews of Sames are really harsh. Yes, Sames focuses on biochemistry ALOT, and you are expected to understand everything he says because it will appear on the tests. However, he makes the class really interesting and strongly encourages students to offer their opinions. As for the midterms and final, if you don't understand the material really well, you're pretty much screwed. The tests are full of applications, with little or no straightforward questions. His questions assume a knowledge of the basic reactions and mechanisms, and then work from there. The problem sets are challenging, but our TA was always willing to help. Definitely go to his office hours; I never went, but I heard he was really helpful. Above all, if you want to know organic chemistry well, this is the class for you. Otherwise, get out. And although most people did better in Turro's class first semester, I actually preferred Sames and got a better grade in his class. He made the material seem much more exciting than Turro's dry lectures. NOTE: He claims that the Sorrell textbook is "recommended" but it's required for all the problem sets, and helpful for the midterm.

Jan 2000

This man is like satan himself. He has an incredible knowledge of all sorts of biological mechanisms that he will scrawl on the board and expect you to regurgitate on the next exam. You have no time to copy and somehow the class is different from turo's first semester stroll through happy carbocation land. turo's preferred organic text is pretty with pictures and word art-- while sames forces you to purchase a graduate level text that weighs more than you do and is exciting in design- black on white, no color and no pictures. think that sums up the difference between 3045 and 3046? oh my sweet child- welcome to hell.

Jan 2000

The above review of Sames seems a little harsh-- it smacks of the insidious pre-med grade grubbing that so poisons any orgo section. Granted, Sames goes on many hilarious and incomprehensible diatribes, but the tests were always fair. There's lots of studying to be done, though. It's certainly not as uncomplicated as the first semester of Orgo.

Jan 2000

If William Faulkner began teaching Orgo while halfway through a bender, he might broach Prof. Sames' s delightfully loopy lecturing style. While the course may say Orgo, be prepared to learn lots and lots of organometallics (his pet field). He is a brilliant man, to be sure, but a disorganized teacher. Even so, the fact that this course gives 6 AP credits makes all the hassle worth it.