Profile of a new professor: Dr. Joshua M. Blechle, Chemistry

Maddie Davis, Asst. News Editor

Dr. Joshua M. Blechle, an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department, is one of the newest professors to join Wilkes University this academic year.

Blechle is originally from just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. He stuck close to home and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Truman State University in Missouri.

He continued his academic career as he attended Colorado State University for his Ph. D in physical and analytical chemistry.

Dr. Blechle then became an adjunct professor at the University of Northern Colorado while still in the final years of graduate school and, from there, traveled to Jamaica, New York, to become a visiting professor at St. John’s University.

Blechle reflected on his decision to pursue academia rather than industry.

“I had always been interested in teaching,” said Blechle.

Blechle had the opportunity, both in his undergraduate and graduate years, to work for the tutoring center, to become a Teacher’s Assistant, and the unusual opportunity to lecture a classroom of almost three hundred students.

“I really enjoyed those interactions,” said Blechle. “I really enjoyed helping people understand information.”

Blechle’s first opportunity as a graduate student was to lecture a General Chemistry I class, which helped guide him in the direction of pursuing a career in academia.

“Teaching that class was amazing,” said Blechle. “I loved doing it.”

Blechle was most influenced to study and pursue a chemistry degree because of the positive experience he had in Mrs. Brown’s high school chemistry class.

Throughout high school, he was at first convinced he wanted to attend veterinary school, but it was Mrs. Brown’s chemistry class where he decided to pursue a chemistry degree. While obtaining his bachelor’s degree, chemistry was predominantly his favorite among the other sciences and led Blechle to take part in undergraduate research that further guided him to graduate school.

When looking for a career in academia after teaching at St. Johns University, Blechle wanted to find a school that was similar to his undergraduate experience; somewhere that had smaller class sizes and the opportunity to do research with undergraduate students.

“Wilkes, specifically, offered a lot of that,” said Blechle.

During his first year, Blechle’s classes have focused on physical chemistry, general chemistry, as well as chemistry for engineers.

“I’ve really enjoyed my classes so far,” he said.

Blechle specifically enjoys teaching general chemistry since it allows him to channel what he loves, physical chemistry, because of the similarities between the two classes.

Just as he enjoyed research during his undergraduate years, Blechle is starting his own undergraduate research lab, which he is waiting on the lab space for.  His lab is going to focus on his specialty: plasma chemistry.

“Plasma is this really complex state of matter. We don’t normally study them [as chemists],” he explained.

“What I am looking to do here is to get a plasma reactor set up and to help guide students into how do these things work, how do we build them, how do we study them, and then ultimately look at essentially the fundamental chemistry of what drives these systems,” said Blechle.

“[Plasma and the work around it] is pretty cool,” said Blechle.