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Chip Nataro
Graduated: 1991
Major: Chemistry
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Lafayette College

Chip Nataro working with studentsThe Messiah Experience
It was important to Chip that he pursue some kind of physical activity as a student, so he got involved with intramural sports.  Chip wanted his college experience to be richly interactive as well as physically active, so he also became a member of the Student Government Association.  Most important to Chip, however, were the courses that comprised his chemistry major, so he admits that he spent most of his time on his class work.

Messiah opened Chip’s mind to things he had never thought of before. “It got me to be a bit more open to other ideas,” Chip explains, "To listen to what other people had to say.  Not to just ignore someone . . . but to really listen to them.”

What to Do Next
Chip was not positive what course he wanted to pursue in chemistry, but he knew he would need a postgraduate degree to do it.  He headed to Iowa State University to complete his M.A. and Ph.D.  Wishing to continue in research, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Vermont.  During his time at large universities Chip realized something significant that would impact his career path: in his graduate and doctoral work, he attended classes of enormous sizes in which he noticed that professors spent little, if any, real interaction time with their students.  This limited interaction was foreign to Chip, who had often experienced the opposite while at Messiah.  He soon made it his personal objective to provide students with personal, interactive instruction by becoming a professor.


• "Do something to stand out."
• "You can't just do the bare-minimum to graduate. You've got to go above and beyond."

A Typical Day
On a normal day, Chip deals mostly with teaching and research in classes such as environmental chemistry, general chemistry and organic and inorganic chemistry.  Just doing the bare minimum in his job, however, is not enough for Chip.

Chip “got into the business” of professorship because he desired to truly impact his students’ lives.  It is not uncommon for a professor to eat lunch with a student to discuss pertinent issues, particularly about the class.  Chip, however, goes about and beyond strictly academic student-professor interaction by hosting monthly dinners at his house for his research students. He even invites those same students, past and present, to his house for Thanksgiving dinner each year.  “It’s an important part of development in a student,” Chip says, explaining why he provides additional outlets for communication with his students, “It helps them to feel like we’re scientific colleagues over me being the big scary professor . . . I try to be unique in the faculty with my social accessibility.”  Chip wants to be the kind of professor whom students love to visit in his office or spend extra time with outside of class.  If he can reach out and touch one student, leaving a lasting impression, he has reached his goal.

Dreams Still Dreaming
Chip is fairly confident that he has had an impact on at least a few of his students’ undergraduate experiences, and through his interaction and relationship-building with his students, he daily fulfills one of his main vocational desires.  In recognition of his extraordinary commitment to his students, he was recently awarded the Delta Upsilon Distinguished Mentoring and Teaching award.  Chip also has his eyes set on other professional goals.  “I’d like to get tenure,” he admits, but quickly shifts the focus.  “I’d like to continue to improve as a professor and researcher.  I know I can do better.”


Profile by Angela Kriebel and Tyler Baber, July 2005


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