Associate Professor Emerita of Chemistry
Dr. Taina Hu Chao, a long-time member of the Chemistry department at Purchase College, passed away on November 29, 2022. An accomplished scientist who worked at the intersection of chemistry, physics and biology, Dr. Chao earned degrees at Tunghai University (Taiwan), Oberlin College, and Texas A&M University before joining the Chemistry faculty as an adjunct professor in 1978. She began a tenure-track appointment in 1982. Over more than forty years, Dr. Chao taught a range of courses including General Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and associated laboratories. At the same time, she maintained an active research agenda in biophysical chemistry, authored numerous articles, and received several grants. In her lab in the Natural Sciences building she sponsored dozens of senior research projects that launched the careers of over 50 graduates of the Chemistry program. Alumni who were mentored by Dr. Chao have gone on to be high school science teachers, industrial chemists, and college professors.Students always raved about what a wonderful teacher she was, noting her kindness, understanding of chemistry concepts, and clear presentation. Her success in the classroom earned Dr. Chao the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Perhaps even more significant is that she kept in contact with many of these students and continued to mentor them even after they graduated and began their careers.
Dr. Chao also played a major role in the College’s Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which prepares underrepresented community college students for advanced study and careers in STEM fields. For over ten years, Dr. Chao mentored students in the Bridges summer research program. It should be noted that many of these students went on to do post-graduate work and at least two have gone on to become faculty at their respective community colleges.
After her retirement in 2011, Dr. Chao continued to teach one or more courses every year and participated regularly in other activities of the Chemistry department. Dr. Chao’s current and former colleagues in Chemistry and throughout the College are deeply saddened by her passing, as are generations of former students. She will be sorely missed.