Norbert J. Pienta

Norbert J. Pienta, PhD

Retired Professor of Chemistry and Director of General Chemistry Instruction at UGA

Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa.


Norbert Pienta is recently retired, both as a professor at the University of Georgia (2012-18) and as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Chemical Education (2009-19). Born and raised in Buffalo, he went on to earn a BS in chemistry from the University of Rochester (1974) and a PhD at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1978), studying synthetic and mechanistic implications of organic photochemisty. Subsequently, he completed postdoctoral work at the Univ. of Pittsburgh and Duke (1978-80). Pienta began his first academic appointment at the Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 1980, where he earned tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor.

He moved back to UNC in 1989, where he developed curricula for all of undergraduate labs and began his career in chemical education research. He authored several versions of “Organic Chemistry Toobox” with Brooks-Cole, software designed to help intro organic students.

In 1999, he moved to the Univ. of Iowa, where he redesigned the general chemistry curriculum and conducted research on strategies and materials for student success, learning and assessment using technology, and eye tracking methods to understand how students view data and images). Pienta was promoted to professor in 2008 and began as editor of JCE in 2009. At Iowa, he mentored students and won the highest award for his teaching, research and scholarship in chemistry education. During his time at Iowa, he was a co-author of two editions of the ACS-McGraw Hill book, “Chemistry in Context” and accompanying multimedia materials.

In 2012, he moved to the University of Georgia, where he initiated and implemented curricular and pedagogical changes in the general chemistry program, and with a research team, studied student problem solving, the use of technology in lecture and the laboratories, and student interpretation of chemical representations. He retired from his positions as Professor of Chemistry and Director of General Chemistry Instruction at UGA in December 2018 and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Iowa.