Eric Ferreira’s own early fascination with solving puzzles helps him inspire students to piece together the logic behind organic chemistry.
“I was always interested in logic puzzles and things of that nature that as a kid,” said Ferreira, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ chemistry department. “As a sophomore in college, my first semester organic chemistry professor really illustrated the logic behind it, and it made perfect sense to me.”
As Ferreira’s undergraduate research position brought him into the lab, his career trajectory took shape around his knack for spatial reasoning as a route to problem-solving.
“Organic chemistry relies heavily on spatial reasoning, logic, and some have even compared it to learning a foreign language,” he said, noting that the cumulative nature and nomenclature of the science really does suggest an analogy to foreign language fluency.
Ferreira has frequently taught graduate and advanced level undergraduate courses, and in spring 2021, he is teaching the honors and majors section of second semester organic chemistry.
The often pressure-packed sequence of courses, with implications for professional schools and entrance exams, can occupy an outsized role in students’ perception and performance. Here he sees the foundational aspect of the science firsthand. Ferreira says the daunting reputation of organic chemistry at UGA is not at all unusual, but it’s also a mark of how vitally the subject relates to so many fields and disciplines.