John De Backere

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
LM 221 - Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories, 80 St. George Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3H6


Areas of Interest

My research interests are centered around the fields of Inorganic chemistry and chemistry education, in particular aspects of laboratory instruction and developing/incorporating innovative learning technologies. While organic chemistry focuses primarily on carbon-based compounds (typically H, C, N, and O containing molecules), the field of Inorganic Chemistry has the entire periodic table as our playground!!

In the Inorganic laboratory, I am always active in designing and developing new synthetic and computational undergraduate experiments. While many of the compounds we explore have striking colors and unique fundamental behaviors/properties that highlighting the course material, we also aim to compliment student learning by highlighting the real-world implications/applications in research and industry, including catalysis, materials science, therapeutics and imaging, green chemistry, etc. Most recently, I have been focused on incorporating more aspects of green chemistry and sustainability practices into our curriculum, as well as exploring less traditional synthetic approaches such as microwave, mechanochemistry, etc. For 2020-2021, I have partnered with the organization Beyond Benign as their Greener Chemistry Laboratory Faculty Fellow to continue facilitating these efforts!

Living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth, with all human knowledge instantly accessible via a click of a button, innovative and creative teaching approaches are helpful in facilitating an effective learning environment. In the classroom, I look to incorporating novel technology and multi-media resources such as virtual visualization tools, websites and videos, and online teaching and learning platforms to facilitate active learning beyond the traditional classroom lecture and textbook. With the help of a talented undergraduate CHM499Y student, we have recently developed our own augmented reality (AR) mobile phone application for visualizing and interacting with some important aspects of Inorganic Chemistry!

I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with both undergraduate and graduate students on several different projects! If you are interested in working together on a CHM299Y/399Y/499Y, CTFP, or volunteer basis, please don’t hesitate to email me!