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Joel Moore: Medicinal Chemist, Now Teaching in Pritzker

joel-moore-MA20141031-1434After 20 years, Joel Moore has realized his undergraduate aspiration to be a teacher in the chemistry labs of Milton’s Pritzker Science Center. A native Oklahoman, Joel attended Oklahoma State University as a secondary education major. A chemistry professor took note of Joel’s natural affinity for the subject and convinced him to add it as a double major. By graduation, chemistry was his sole focus. Joel went on to five years of graduate school in Kansas; a two-year post-doc at Harvard; and then eight years as a medicinal chemist in the pharmaceutical industry.

“I really enjoyed my time in pharmaceuticals,” says Joel. “At one company, I worked on a productive team that focused on Hepatitis C therapeutics. At another company, I worked on cardiovascular therapies and anti-asthma therapies. One asthma compound made it to human clinical trials, which as a medicinal chemist is the ultimate.”

Always at the back of Joel’s mind was teaching. A pharmaceutical colleague commented that Joel “missed his calling,” after he explained to her how a particular molecule is metabolized in the body; after that, Joel began thinking seriously about changing his career direction. At Milton, Joel is two months into his first year of teaching, and he is thrilled with his decision. Joel’s rich, professional science experience helps make his subject matter come alive for his students.

“I love the students here. They interact, they smile, they say thank you,” says Joel. “I love how inquisitive they are. I always tell them that if I don’t know something, I will be honest about it. Well, let me tell you, sometimes they stump me with their questions. They are a really sharp group of students.”

Outside of school, Joel and his wife enjoy time with their three young children.