Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Russ Seidel

Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Stephen "Russ" Seidel joined Harford’s STEM division in fall 2015, teaching General and Preparatory Chemistry. He has since become a deeply valued member of the College’s STEM faculty, both through his steadfast dedication to his students and through his considerable contributions in furthering the goals of the College.

He has developed unique internship opportunities for students to engage in novel research in the area of self-assembly and crystal engineering, which is Russ’ continuing area of study. Additionally, he worked with the Cooperative Education program in the College's Career Services office to classify his internships as co-operative learning experiences so his students could earn academic credit for their research work. In 2018, he served as an innovative mentor to a chemistry research intern, overseeing her scholarly research in HCC’s labs. With his guidance, the student went on to present her findings at the annual American Chemical Society National Meeting & Expo in Boston.

Of teaching at Harford, Russ says, "I appreciate the opportunity to work one-on-one with undergrad students, both in a classroom and lab setting, helping to impart and promote STEM. The sense of family we foster at HCC truly allows that to occur for both students and faculty alike on a substantial and meaningful level." Students seek him out as a professor because he is known for his investment in student success outside the classroom, as demonstrated in his role as a mentor and a co-advisor to HCC’s chapter of the American Chemical Society.

An active member of numerous committees, Russ has helped advance the College’s progress through his leadership role on the committee to create evaluation guidelines for full-time faculty, serving on the committee to institute Ad Astra as the campus' scheduling software, and representing the STEM division on Faculty Council. He also presents at HCC's annual STEM Day, a showcase for student and faculty projects and research.

In 2018, he became the department coordinator for the physical science department of the STEM division, an appointment that will continue to provide leadership for the chemistry, physics, earth science, astronomy, and forensic science areas over the next three academic years. He also represented Harford on the committee that planned the Maryland Collegiate STEM Conference held this spring at Baltimore City Community College, an event that highlighted STEM topics and research in two-year colleges.

Over the course of his career, Russ has published more than a dozen peer-reviewed scholarly publications and been a co-presenter upon 20+ peer-reviewed presentations, frequently involving students. He also co-edited Chemical Evolution II: From Origins of Life to Modern Society (Oxford University Press, 2010).

He graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Chemistry from Washington College in Chestertown, MD and earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Utah, under the advisorship of the acclaimed Peter Stang, a 2010 National Medal of Science laureate. Prior to coming to Harford, Russ taught at Dowling College in Oakdale, NY, the University of Wisconsin–Waukesha, and Berry College in Rome, GA.

In terms of a guiding principle for work and life, Russ recounted the words of his great-grandmother, Blanche Marie Getty. In her 1902 valedictory speech, she observed that "Success is summed up in these two words: common sense and perseverance," and that "Most of the great deeds of the world have been done in the face of the cry 'impossible'." He noted, "Indeed, one never knows what one can do until one tries, and those who succeed are often those who are willing to try, regardless of the odds. She went on to become a doctor at a time when women were still struggling to achieve the right to vote." He says he most wants to leave his students with "a sense of confidence in themselves, particularly in their ability to think critically, and in their ability to succeed in a STEM career. And I want them to be able to critically evaluate the world using their scientific background and not simply accept everything they hear."

Assistant Professor Andrew Adams remarked of his colleague, "Russ is an indispensable member of the STEM Division, and should be commended for his leadership and dedication to College and student success."

Dr. Russ Seidel has established himself as an integral member of Harford’s faculty through his commitment to his students and the campus community. The College congratulates Russ on his selection for the July-August Faculty Spotlight recognition!