PROFile: Jamie Ritch

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Dr. Jamie Ritch knew early in his undergrad that he wanted to be a chemist.

“One of the things that drew me to inorganic chemistry was my labs in undergrad,” he says, mentioning it was the inorganic experiments that produced neat colour changes which sparked his imagination.

Ritch continued to work in a lab and underwent his first research experience at the end of his third year as an undergrad.

“I went to work with an inorganic chemist at (the University) of Calgary and enjoyed my time, so I ended up staying on for an honours project, and then I stayed on to do grad school in the same lab.”

Currently, as an associate professor for the Department of Chemistry at the University of Winnipeg, Ritch’s research focuses on synthetic chemistry. He says, “we aim to make new molecules that nobody’s made before in order to study their properties. That’s the basic description.”

Ritch says the best part about the experience was “actually doing the experiments myself instead of just reading about them in a book. So, really kind of applying the classroom knowledge to study new things nobody has looked at before.”

Although it’s too dangerous to recreate any of the more exciting experiments in the classroom, Ritch does what he can to generate the same enthusiasm he has for chemistry in his students.

For Ritch, it’s most rewarding to see the moment of understanding in a student’s eyes as they begin to comprehend the abstract concepts discussed in a lecture.

What is the cheesiest chemistry joke you’ve ever heard?

“I’d tell you a chemistry joke, but the good one’s argon.”

What’s your favourite video game?

“Either Skyrim or Legend of Zelda.”

What was your worst grade in university?

“I got a C+ in first-year calculus. I didn’t do any of the homework, so I was just lazy.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“My hobbies include gaming, playing squash, reading, hanging out with my family.”

What is something you’ve learned from your students?

“I’ve learned a lot about how to teach and how to be a mentor, because in my research group, I’m often taking in students who don’t have any research experience, so I’ve had to learn how to be an effective supervisor and mentor to help them develop research skills on their own. It’s also very rewarding to see my students go on to succeed after they’ve left university.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 6, 2020)

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