George McKnight

Associate Professor of Chemistry

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, where I went to high school and college (LaSalle University, BA in chemistry). I left to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where I got my MS and PhD in inorganic chemistry. I taught for five years at the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Caracas, Venezuela. I applied to Salem because a friend of a friend worked there and they had an opening and I wanted to return to the states to continue my teaching career. I knew very little about Salem College when I came here. I taught English in high school in Quito, Ecuador, for two years. I also taught Chemistry in Caracas, Venezuela, for five years.

The strengths I see in a women’s college are first, I believe it allows young women an opportunity to better maintain a separation between their social and their academic lives. This allows them to settle into the academic aspects of college life more easily. Second, I think that the single-sex environment allows a young woman the opportunity to come to know herself as a young woman and to better appreciate her strengths and weaknesses. Third, I have seen a large number of young women enter who were tentative, unsure of themselves, and lacking in self confidence. And I have watched them leave Salem four years later as confident young women. 

My research interest is in developing teaching methods that require the active participation of the student in class. I have used the POGIL group approach in my general chemistry class for the last seven years. The advice I would give a student thinking about entering the chemistry program is that chemistry is a field that has become female-friendly in the last twenty years. More than 50 percent of students pursuing graduate work in chemistry are female. Chemists generally have little difficulty finding work in variety of careers. These careers may involve little or a great deal of contact with the public.

Some of my favorite inspirational quotes are:

Silence should be so highly regarded that words that break it should leave the world a better place.” Buddhist saying

The Brahma Viharas:

May we live so as to bring peace, happiness, and enlightenment to ourselves and to others.

May we be well, happy, and peaceful. May no harm come to us. May no difficulty come to us. May no problems come to us. May we always meet with success.

May we also have the patience, courage, and understanding to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

May we be free from pain, suffering, and sorrow. May we find peace and happiness. May our peace, happiness, and good fortune remain always with us.

And may we learn to accept all of life’s experiences with equanimity, giving undue importance to neither the pleasant, the unpleasant, nor the boring.

When I’m not working I enjoy walking, swimming, biking, yoga, qi gong, Feldenkrais work, deep breathing, reading, watching movies, traveling, and sanding and polishing wood pieces.  

  • BA, LaSalle College; MS, PhD, University of Illinois