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David Yaron - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

David Yaron

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


David Yaron has been involved in development and assessment of new learning technologies for over two decades.


David has been involved in development and assessment of new learning technologies for over two decades. He is primary author of the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) general chemistry course, which is designed for use in blended course environments that smoothly integrate online and in-person learning. He also heads the ChemCollective. which makes virtual laboratory activities freely available to classrooms around the world. His current research on learning examines the ways students learn chemistry and the degree to which blended course environments help close performance gaps for underserved populations. He also considers the use of machine learning in chemistry.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Materials Theory

Electronic Structure Theory



Machine Learning



Media Appearances (2)

Universities Partner To Make Chemistry More Equitable

Carnegie Mellon University  online


David Yaron(opens in new window), professor of chemistry at CMU, has been developing chemistry courseware for decades. "Our courseware supports new kinds of synchronous learning activities, especially improving instructor interactions with students and supporting better peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Ongoing research and partner feedback show that these kinds of interactions can be a powerful force for advancing more equitable outcomes, and I’m excited at this chance to accelerate that work," Yaron said.

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Learning Engineering in Action

Carnegie Mellon University  online


David Yaron, a professor of chemistry in the Mellon College of Science, also talked about his use of the OLI platform in his courses. Before the pandemic, he created a virtual lab environment so that students could practice designing and conducting experiments without having to go to lab. This semester, it has become invaluable. In particular, it helps students prepare for the time they have together in class. “What we’re aiming for is an experience for the student, where they get to spend their own time coming up to speed on what we’re going to do in person. This is a technique called flipping the classroom, where students do things online that prepare them for class,” Yaron said. “With OLI, we’ve created materials that everyone can use online.”

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COVID-19, One Year Later: Where Do We Go From Here? CA David Yaron



Industry Expertise (2)

Laboratory Services


Education (2)

Harvard University:: Ph.D., Chemical Physics 1990

Wilkes University: B.S., Chemistry 1983

Articles (5)

The Open-Response Chemistry Cognitive Assistance Tutor System: Development and Implementation

Journal of Chemical Education

2022 This report showcases a new type of online homework system that provides students with a free-form interface and dynamic feedback. The ORCCA Tutor (Open-Response Chemistry Cognitive Assistance Tutor) is a production rules-based online tutoring system utilizing the Cognitive Tutoring Authoring Tools (CTAT) developed by Carnegie Mellon University. In this report, we discuss the interface design and the production rules that allow for a multitude of chemistry calculations to be solved in a wide variety of ways by students. We discuss improvements of the software, already implemented or planned for the future, based on think aloud/interviews with students.

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Design, synthesis, and properties of a six-membered oligofuran macrocycle

Organic Chemistry Frontiers

2021 Herein, we present the synthesis and properties of an ester-functionalized macrocyclic sexifuran (C6FE). This molecule was prepared in a single step from a furan-3-carboxylate dimer using a commercially available palladium catalyst (SPhos-Pd-G3) and isolated in 34% yield. DFT calculations predict the macrocyclic ring is planar, with minimal ring strain. The macrocycle is partially crystalline, as evidenced by powder X-ray diffraction patterns. Furthermore, the solid-state organization can be altered by modification of the ester side-chain. C6FE can also undergo two electron oxidation and reduction in solution as evidenced by cyclic voltammetry. Quantum chemical investigations revealed how aromaticity along the entire sexifuran macrocycle may play a role in the reversible electrochemistry.

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Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Supporting Adoption of Evidence-Based Practices in Response to Educational Disruptions

Journal of Chemical Education

2020 Effective diffusion of educational innovations is essential for evidence-based practices to have broad impacts on student learning. One of the barriers to such diffusion is the large inertia associated with changing one’s teaching practices. Educational disruptions, such as COVID-19, may lower this barrier by making business-as-usual no longer feasible. Here, we reflect on the ways in which an online community, designed to promote diffusion of educational innovation, supported Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry teachers in the rapid transition to online instruction necessitated by the pandemic. The lessons learned from supporting teachers as they responded to the pandemic may provide insights into how to better promote and support adoption of reformed teaching strategies.

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Photostable helical polyfurans

Journal of the American Chemical Society

2019 This report describes the design and synthesis of a new class of polyfurans bearing ester side chains. The macromolecules can be synthesized using catalyst-transfer polycondensation, providing precise control over molecular weight and molecular weight distribution. Such obtained furan ester polymers are significantly more photostable than their alkyl analogues owing to the electron-withdrawing nature of the attached subunit. Most interestingly, they spontaneously fold into a compact π-stacked helix, yielding a complex multilayer cylindrical nanoparticle with a hollow, rigid, conjugated core composed of the polyfuran backbone and a soft, insulating outer layer formed by the ester side chains.

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High-throughput synthesis and screening of iridium (III) photocatalysts for the fast and chemoselective dehalogenation of aryl bromides

ACS Catalysis

2020 A high-throughput optical screening method for the photocatalytic activity of a structurally diverse library of 1152 cationic iridium(III) complexes ([Ir(C^N)2(N^N)]+), corresponding to all combinations of 48 cyclometalating (C^N) and 24 ancillary (N^N) ligands, was developed. This rapid assay utilizes the colorimetric changes of a high contrast indicator dye, coumarin 6, to monitor the photo-induced electron transfer from a sacrificial amine donor to the metal complex excited state. The resulting [Ir(C^N)2(N^N)]0 can then reduce an aryl bromide to form the highly reactive aryl radical intermediate. The rate of this reaction is dictated by the molecular structure of both coordinating ligands.

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