Spotlight on new faculty — an interview with Mohammed R. Elshaer

Interview by Madinah Muhammad

Fairleigh Dickinson University welcomes Mohammed R. Elshaer, as a new assistant professor of biochemistry for the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Science in Becton College of Arts & Sciences. Elshaer holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Seton Hall University and teaches on the Florham Campus.

Elshaer

FDU: What brings you to FDU?

Elshaer: I wanted the opportunity to join a university that is growing and expanding. At FDU I am able to have a greater influence on each one of my student’s due to the small class sizes. It allows me to further engage the students in conversation and discussion versus the standard lecture hall style of teaching that I came from. It also gives students a chance to reach their maximum potential and provide input because of the more intimate teaching environment.  

I am excited to be here at FDU and to work with fellow colleagues to take the initiative to develop undergraduate and graduate students.


FDU: Tell us about your new position….

Elshaer:  I am an assistant professor of biochemistry, where I teach both graduates and undergraduates. I am also in the process of establishing my research group and currently have four members who have started working on their projects. Research in my group includes organic synthesis, biophysics, DNA binding studies, preparation and evaluation of polymers in bionanotechnology and creating functional materials.


FDU: How did you become interested in this field?

Elshaer: I have always been fascinated by science and naturally curious to understand the material world, particularly the chemistry that makes life possible. I spend a great deal of time analyzing everything and am constantly seeking to interpret the world around me, asking questions like “How is this possible?” and “Why do things function as they do?”

 

FDU: What is something you would like to contribute to FDU?

Elshaer: I would like to develop a stronger research program within the department. Our location affords a unique opportunity for collaboration and interaction within the scientific community through chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and local universities.

I would also like to enhance the biochemistry program to include more specialized lab courses. I believe hands-on experience will provide students with the critical skills needed to help facilitate a transition to an industry or graduate school.

 

FDU: What is one piece of advice you can give to new students in your class?

Elshaer: Responsibility and effort are truly the keys to success with the challenging curriculum that comes with being a science major. Responsibility in terms of time management, coursework and study material — effort in terms of asking questions and seeking guidance from professors when faced with uncertainty. Professors here are always accessible and I have an open door policy that I hope students will take advantage of. I also provide them with a study guide I created to help them become more successful in their chemistry courses.


FDU: What do you hope that your students will take away from your class?

Elshaer: I would like for students to leave with a basic understanding of biochemistry that they can apply in other fields and industries. I would also like for students to become motivated to develop new innovations and technologies with this knowledge.