Faculty & Staff

Christy Bell

Assistant Professor
M.S. in Geochemistry - Mineralogy, Pennsylvania State University,
E-mail: christy.bell@alverno.edu

I have always been in love with, and curious about, nature and our world. Growing up in the Midwest, I always wondered why we didn’t have any nearby volcanoes and the oceans were so far away! My goal in teaching is to give others the opportunity to learn about science and expose them to the wonders of our world. The world can be appreciated on a deeper level, when you understand science. I also enjoy being involved in the process of teaching and seeing students come to the realization that science is not just about content, but about using their creativity and imagination. 

Alex Blom

Associate Professor
Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, Iowa State University, 2009
E-mail: alex.blom@alverno.edu

I love chemistry! Physical chemists spend time trying to discover how our world works at the sub-microscopic level. My goal is to help students understand the complex processes involved in thermodynamics, kinetics, and quantum mechanics. I act as a guide through the seemingly impossible world of chemistry rather than an orator. My job is to help students be successful.

My research interests include developing modular Raman spectrometers which students can build in lab and use to monitor molecular vibrations as well as studying the natural degradation pathways of pharmaceuticals in our lakes and rivers.


Judy Calhoun

Associate Professor
Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, 1985
E-mail: judy.calhoun@alverno.edu

I have always wanted to be a teacher, although I always thought I would be a math teacher until I fell in love with chemistry as a junior in high school.  One of the things I enjoy most about teaching is watching student faces “light up” when they finally understand a difficult concept. In addition to teaching, I am an avid reader and follow all three CSI shows and "Bones" on TV.

Lauralee Guilbault

Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry, University of Tennessee, 1988
E-mail: lauralee.guilbault@alverno.edu

One of the best ways to learn something is to ask a good question. Learning chemistry was my way of finding answers to many of my questions. It gave me a way to understand the world around me at a deeper level.  Why do I need to use soap to wash my skin, but detergent to wash the laundry? It also helped me develop a way of thinking critically and creatively about all sorts of decisions that I make as a citizen of the world. Is it better for the environment if I purchase solar electric panels for my house, or a hybrid car, or stay with what I have? There is so much we humans still have to learn, and I hope my students will be asking good important questions in their future.

Jennifer Johanson

Associate Professor
Ph.D, Geosciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2016
E-mail: jennifer.johanson@alverno.edu

Ever since childhood I've had a passion for the natural world. Most of my favorite memories are from natural areas; camping, canoeing, exploring with my family, running wooded trails with my dogs, relaxing and reading by the lakeshore.  These things led me to my first career in environmental geology.  I love to share my passion for the natural world and instill and strengthen in others a deep respect for natural systems and a strong ethic of stewardship.  That is what keeps me in my second career; teaching environmental science.

Ed McAdam 

Assistant Professor
Master of Science: Physics from UW-Milwaukee
Completed all course work for a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering at UW-Milwaukee
E-mail: ed.mcadam@alverno.edu

I enjoy solving puzzles of almost any kind. However, I found that the puzzles presented in the sciences are the most interesting to me. What I love most about teaching and working with students is seeing students develop a passionate interest in some field of study, because life is even more enjoyable when you have interests.

Heather Mernitz

Associate Professor
Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism, Tufts University, 2006
E-mail: heather.mernitz@alverno.edu

I am constantly amazed by the elegance of life at the biochemical, molecular level.  I believe that an understanding of chemistry is necessary for being an educated voter and consumer in the world today and I work hard to make science accessible and comprehensible for all my students at whatever level they need for their lives and careers.

I play volleyball and tennis, and have served as an assistant volleyball coach at Alverno since 2008.  I enjoy athletic and creative pursuits of all kinds, but spend most of my free time now chasing after my two spirited young daughters.

Tracy Thompson - Department Chair

Ph.D. in Physical Organic and Computational Chemistry, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1993
E-mail: tracy.thompson@alverno.edu

Teaching at the college level is a good fit for me. It allows me to use my creativity in designing tools and approaches that help students learn. It immerses me in responsibility to our global community by assisting students in understanding the dynamic and multifaceted nature of chemistry and the value-rich context in which we must practice it. When I work with students, I learn. This reciprocal learning between student and instructor is what I love about teaching and working with students at Alverno College. These students participate in their learning experiences, and, in so doing participate in the on-going pedagogical development of courses. The reciprocal learning interaction is akin to an accordion, which is drawn in and out as it is played. It is the interplay between the drawing in (instructor-student interaction) and drawing out (individual reflection and action on the interaction) that makes the music.

Jenna Coss - Lab Manager and Instructor

M.A. in Adult Education, Alverno College, 2015
E-mail: jenna.coss@alverno.edu

Not only have I graduated from Alverno with my Master’s, but I have also graduated from Alverno with my Bachelors in Science (Chemistry with supports in Biology and Mathematics). I have lived and breathed Alverno since I began my undergraduate studies, which I believe has helped me to develop a good perspective of how students work, learn, and progress at Alverno. For my job as the lab manager, I am responsible for working with student workers to ensure that the labs function smoothly. When teaching, I have a strong dedication to providing my students with encouraging, clear, and useful feedback. I would say that feedback and science are my passions.