Dave Tramontozzi, Chemistry professor, sees his younger self in many Macomb students. He rode his bike to classes at the University of Windsor, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry, while working as a bartender.
“We have remarkable people at this institution,” says Tramontozzi, who has accompanied Macomb students on three alternative spring break trips to assist in the rebuilding of lives in the wake of poverty or a natural disaster. “I am so impressed by how our students put themselves out there for others. To be a part of their educational journey is an honor.”
While many of his classmates at the university were headed toward medical school, Tramontozzi chose a different path after working as lab, research and, ultimately, teaching assistant.
“Chemistry and I got along very well, and I really loved the research, but with teaching, the highs are continuous,” says Tramontozzi. “I love everything about teaching.”
Tramontozzi first taught in an auditorium to 400 students at a time, which gave him insight into what type of teaching position he would prefer.
“At the end of a semester, I knew maybe five of my students,” reflects Tramontozzi. “One of the things I like about Macomb is I get to really know my students and they get to know me.”
One of the first things his students learn is that Tramontozzi is Canadian. He grew up just outside of Windsor and now lives on its south side with his wife and three sons, whom he coaches in baseball and hockey. Second is that he is dedicated to showing his students how relevant chemistry is to their understanding of the world, and offering guidance if they decide to make it a career.
“A lot of the students in our intro courses are taking it because it is required. And while I absolutely don’t want to make them a chemist, my class might kick-start an idea of doing something later, says Tramontozzi. “The greatest compliment is when a student comes back to tell me: ‘I took my PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) and scored a 95 on the chemistry part.’”
Along with colleague Cathy Kelly, Tramontozzi received a Macomb Innovation Award this year to fund a Science Student Advisory Panel comprised of former Macomb science students now on their way toward science-based careers. The panel will share their experiences with current students on Feb. 21 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in K Building. South Campus.
“This is something that I thought about doing for many years,” says Tramontozzi. “I can sit across a desk and tell a student what they should do, but it means so much more when they hear it from a peer who has been where they are.”