Donald R. Paulson

Emeritus Professor of Chemistry

California State University Los Angeles

Phone: 970-325-0931



I have taught at Cal State LA since 1970, with sabbatical leaves in 1977-78 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C.; in 1985 at the University of Sussex in Brighton England; and in Colorado in 2000. I have published more than 30 research papers and I have had more than $2,000,000 in funded chemical research grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and other funding agencies. More than 125 students have carried out research in my laboratory. In addition I have had more than $3,500,000 in funded grants in Science Education mostly from the National Science Foundation.

I was chair of the Department from 1982-88 and 1989-91. I have been very active in campus academic governance at all levels. I received the campus Outstanding Professor Award in 1979. I was the campus selection for the 1984 CSU Trustee's Outstanding Professor Award, and I was the first recipient of the CSULA President's Outstanding Professor Award in 1996.

In addition to this site, I have developed two other education sites:

1) This site contains useful information for precollege science teachers.

2) This site contains a detailed discussion of active and cooperative learning.

Teaching Interests

My main teaching interest is the general area of organic chemistry. In addition I teach physical science classes for students planning carers in elementary school teaching as well as the department's upper division writing class, Chem 360. My goals for these courses are several fold.

The first goal is for each student to have an understanding of the various topics listed in the syllabus. By this I do not mean that students should have memorized an enormous amount of material but rather have a deep seated understanding of the material. My second goal is to provide students with problem solving skills that they can use throughout the rest of their life whether or not they pursue a career in science. My third goal is for students to have an appreciation for why the course material is relevant to their career objective. My fourth goal is to improve student ability to work effectively in a group setting. Finally, I want students to learn how to assimilate knowledge that is presented in a number of different styles.

Research Interests

My chemical research interests have centered on two areas: organic photochemistry and bioinorganic chemistry. In the first area we have studied the photochemistry of epoxides as well as the the effect of steric hindrance on the photoisomerization of conjugated dienes. In the bioinorganic area we have investigated the chemistry of ruthenium porphyrins and ruthenium substituted heme proteins as models for the binding of oxygen to hemoglobin.

In recent years I have begun to do research in chemical education. I have investigated the use of active and cooperative learning in the chemistry lecture classroom. I have developed inservice workshops for high school and college faculty in the use of active and cooperative learning. I have also been very active in developing hands on inquiry science for precollege students as well as running workshops for elementary teachers in how to teach science in an inquiry mode.

Representative Publications

D. R. Paulson, S. B. Bhakta, R. Y. Hyun, M. Yuen, C. E. Beaird, S. C. Lee, I. Kim, and J. Ybarra, Jr.,"The Reaction of Ruthenium (II) Octaethylporphyrin and Ruthenium (II) Tetraphenylporphyrin Complexes with Carbon Monoxide," Inorganica Chimica Acta, 1988,151, 149-152.

D. R. Paulson, W. I. Inman, K. S. Sanchez, and M. Chaidez, "The Photochemistry of 1-(1-propenyl)cycloalkenes," Journal of Organic Chemistry. 1989, 54, 4872-4881.

D. R. Paulson, "The High School Science Teacher as a Research Director," The Partnership Program, Research Corporation, Tucson, AZ, 1996.

D. R. Paulson; J. Faust, "Active Learning," Instructionally Speaking, 1998, VII(#2), California State University, Los Angeles, CA.

D. R. Paulson, "Active Learning and Cooperative Learning in the Organic Chemistry Lecture Class," Journal of Chemical Education., 1999, 76, 1136-1141.

D. R. Paulson; J. L. Faust, "Active Learning in the College Classroom, Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 1998, 9(2), 3-24 (published in October 1999).

D. R. Paulson, "Writing for Chemists: Satisfying the CSU Upper Division Writing Requirement," J. Chem. Ed. 2001, 78, 1047-1049.

Educational Background

BA Chemistry, 1965, Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL

PhD. Indiana University, 1968, Bloomington, IN

NIH Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 1968-70, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL


I am an avid hiker and four wheel drive enthuisiast. I also enjoy photography and the history of mining and railroads in Colorado. The picture on the left below was taken from the summit of Redcloud Peak (14,200 ft) in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The picture on the right is of Crystal Lake at 10,000 feet in the same mountains.

I am actively engaged in many aspects of the Ouray County Historical Society (OCHS) including being editor of the OCHS History Magazine and web master of the OCHS web page:

I also volunteer at the Ridgway Railroad Museum where we have laid 600 feet of track to opeate our replica of the 1932 Rio Grande Southern Motor #1:

Finally I have a large model railroad based loosely on the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad: