Dina Merrer

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

Apr 2021

For context: I'm a senior and a chemistry major in CC, I'm writing this a few years after taking orgo. Professor Merrer is easily one of the best STEM professors in all of Barnard and Columbia combined; the best professor I personally have had during all of my four years here. Her use of Sapling and her creation of handouts for EACH mechanism, yes each, is simply the best way to teach organic chemistry and I have no idea why no other professor does this. Well, actually I do, it's because creating handouts takes time and effort, which Dina does because she genuinely cares about her students succeeding, and I can't say the same about Columbia professors. She's also great about encouraging class participation: she asks the class low-baller questions and remembers faces and names really well when you answer those questions. She's got great handwriting and her trademark colored chalk is simply the best way to learn orgo visually. She also takes care to notice when the class does poorly on an exam: when we got a D average on the second midterm she made sure to go over concepts again in the next lectures before moving on. The only negative aspect I have to say is that she does seem very intimidating: she can be quite pointed and even though I ended up asking her for a letter of recommendation I still felt a little scared to email her each time lol. She doesn't have patience for lazy students. Two things I wanted to focus on in particular: her problem sets and her office hours. P sets: are incredibly helpful, because she usually assigns extra problems which you can save to study for midterms/finals, and she assigns you to a mandatory study group. Study groups in the class are picked randomly to submit the pset for grading, so you get practice doing all the problems but you don't have to stress every week about being graded. It's literally the most effective learning process ever, she's absolutely brilliant for coming up with it. Office hours: she answers questions very thoughtfully and concisely during office hours. She hosts more during midterm weeks or when she can tell the class is struggling. If no one comes, or if everyone in the office wants to work on the same problem, she allows you to solve the problem on the board and walk the others through your method, which gives YOU teaching practice and reinforces the material, or she'll allow you to work out with the other students what you're stumped on if you got the question wrong. Professor Merrer made orgo as painless as the subject can possibly be, was an entertaining and insightful lecturer, and gave ample study material to prepare everyone for the exams. I have no idea why anyone would take orgo at Columbia if their major allows them to take it at Barnard. I also have no idea why she and Rojas don't have gold nuggets on here. When I think of pedagogy, and the kind of professor I aspire to be, I think of no one, in my entire time at Columbia, other than Professor Merrer.

Jan 2020

I LOVE PROFESSOR MERRER. I went in expecting orgo to be hard, and don't get me wrong, it was, but Professor Merrer made it feel approachable and doable. The class takes a lot of effort, but I found that as long as you put in the time you can do well. Her teaching style is also amazing. Her lectures are so clear and easy to follow, and I think that learning all the mechanisms is so much fun and the was she draws everything on the board is beautiful! There are assignments before every class, which I find very helpful in terms of keeping up with the material. In addition there are weekly problem sets, some of which take longer than others, but if you run into problems going to office hours always pays off. She will even give different ways to solve a problem in different office hours, which means going to office hours is rewarding no matter how often you go. Also going a bunch is just fun because she is so cool and nice and smart! She may be intimidating at first but she is so nice!!!! If you can, take orgo with her!!!!

Nov 2019

Prof. Merrer is amazing! So, so smart and a great lecturer. It's definitely a hard class and requires lots of time, but she makes it worth it and somehow makes organic chemistry interesting and I'd recommend going to her office hours and/or a TA's office hours too. Sometimes she wears fun chemistry socks or t-shirts and shows us, and she's just an overall really supportive professor!

Nov 2019

Dina Merrer is a great lecturer. She paces well, her handwriting is drop-dead gorgeous, and she does a great job explaining concepts to students. Her fascination with college basketball comes through with her choice of teeshirts during office hours. I don't find her very condescending however it could be stressful and intimidating to talk to her during office hours since she is SO SMART. The downside is that her lecture notes only contain the EASIEST examples of synthesis/reagent problems... Her exams start out great (first midterm avg ~ 80) and go south from thereon (second midterm avg ~ 73; last year's midterm 3 avg was ~50). This was probably the aspect of her class I hated the most since it seems like she was deliberately trying to trip people up and lowering the average by always making one problem on the midterms impossible to do (unless your mom is the department chair of *insert Ivy league school*... and Dina is your family friend.... can't relate dude. And yes, I'm only making this reference because there was such a girl in my class). I also heard from the peer help room tutors that one year she legit forgot to curve the final grades of the class on excel after finals, so everyone got a B or below. :-( Also, to all the people who go to office hours just to show off how smart they are by discussing some entirely non-related shit such as the aromaticity of Paclitaxel, f you!! People who actually need help did not take time out of their life to come here to sit their on the cold hard floor and listen to your rant about how difficult your research project is for 20 minutes. Also, if you are stuck with her for 2 semesters of Orgo be sure NOT to throw away your notes and DOWNLOAD all of her coursework material onto a harddrive because she will not let you access it once the Orgo I final's over. Orgo II isn't at all the same but having those notes could be incredibly helpful.

Sep 2018

Merrer was a fine teacher but her problem sets were incredibly difficult and she didn't teach all the material on them. Also for our third test the average was a FIFTY SEVEN PERCENT and she blamed it on US even though it was a hardworking class. She barely curved the class and destroyed many people's GPA while being condescending about how hard they worked.

Nov 2014

Loved LOVED professor Merrer! She is awesome. I came into her class after failing my first exam in General Chemistry. She made every topic crystal clear this semester. She was very good at breaking down complex subjects and explaining them well. I would highly recommend her class. Chemical problem solving has given me a great foundation for general chemistry next semester. If you haven't taken chemistry in a while or feel that you had a bad high school chem experience I would highly recommend this course.

Jan 2013

ONE OF THE BEST PROFESSORS IN THE HISTORY OF TEACHING! Seriously... as scary as Organic Chemistry is made out to seem.... Professor Merrer made it a lovable subject. BECAUSE of this class, I deduced that my favorite science BY FAR was & still is Organic Chemistry. She uses a variety of color coordination on the boards which makes following her notes all the more easier. She was mindful of student questions both during lecture and office hours. She answers questions very thoroughly. While she is a tough grader.... it helped you learned the subject. TAKE THIS CLASS WITH HER! She is awesome. She is also pretty funny which is an added plus. :) SIDE NOTE: Organic Chemistry II is way better than Organic Chemistry I (for obvious reasons... like being better familiar with the subject).... therefore even if you feel yourself suffocating first semester still take second semester with her!

Nov 2012

Professor Merrer is fantastic. I think she may be the best professor I've had in my three years here so far. She's extremely intelligent, knows the material really well, and can explain concepts thoroughly. Her lectures are clear and don't delve into useless information. Her way of explaining the material is great and I actually really enjoy going to class, which I weird since I kind of hate chemistry. That being said, I found it very, very, very difficult. I'm dropping out of Orgo II over halfway through the semester, I just can't do it. I devote a LOT of time to studying for this class and it never seems to make a difference. Some people just get chemistry better than others, I definitely do not. I know a lot of others who have had to drop as well. The problem sets are challenging, but doable, especially with your group. The quizzes aren't too bad, but she doesn't give much partial credit on them. They are still challenging. The exams are what killed me. 3 spread out and then a final, it feels like I'm constantly preparing for a test. They are very difficult, even when I feel like I grasped the material pretty well. Even when I did the past year's exam and did ok, I still can't do well. I did extra problems, used extra books, went to the help room, nothing really helped. Orgo I has the same workload and layout, but the mechanisms and concepts are simpler. I'm disappointed to leave the class, but I can't let my gpa drop so much because of it. If you take the class be prepared to ignore your other courses and spend most of your time working on orgo. Good-bye to sleeping the weeks of the tests, too.

Aug 2009

I enjoyed having Dina Merrer as a professor. I admit that I learned a lot, yet I didn't end with the grade that I wanted. I admit that it has nothing to do with Merrer's teaching style or presentation of material. Regardless of the numerous hours I spent studying for that course, I suppose my studying method wasn't correct. The office hours are helpful only if there aren't many people. Many times I found office hours a waste of time because some people show up asking extremely basic questions. Seriously, if they were listening in lecture, they would have known the answers to those questions. The recitation group presentation I thought were pointless, because if you attended office hours she will solve the problems presented anyways. The good thing about the recitation groups was the friendships I made; our recitation group ended up being a very very close group of friends. I definitely thank Merrer for that.

May 2009

She is a great teacher. She makes the material come alive, and she makes herself available during her office hours. Organic Chemistry is hard, but take it if she's teaching. You'll learn, and you may or may not do well, but you'll come away knowing more and with no hard feelings because she just presents everything so well and she is very fair. She wants everyone to do well in class, so when our third test came back and the class avg was low, she offered to replace our final for it. She can be a bit initimidating at first, with her color coordinated chalk bags and hand rags, and excess OCDness to pile all the papers in a neat pile, but she's great. She'll want to know your names and who you are. (Maybe because of her OCDness) She also tells jokes in class and adds in a few of her Antidotes. She just loves the subject.

Apr 2009

I love Professor Merrer. If you're debating between taking Chemistry at Columbia or Barnard and Merrer is teaching, take it at Barnard no question asked. Merrer is a fantastic teacher. She presents the material very clearly and the way she writes her notes on the board make it impossible for you not to be able to take good notes if you write down everything she does. The big complaint everyone has about Orgo is that it's all memorization and that it's hard. I'm not going to say this class isn't hard but Merrer makes Orgo make sense. It's not about memorizing every reaction in her class because if you learn the material the way she presents it, you won't have a hard time remembering everything. I understand it's not always easy to understand what's going on in class but office hours are really helpful and you can always find at least one time slot that fits in your schedule. One thing about Merrer that I love is that she really understands what you're trying to ask when you ask a question and she'll rephrase to say it better than you did originally and to make sure the rest of the class isn't confused. Overall I think she's a brilliant woman and a fantastic teacher. I know some people say she's a little cold, or whatever the complaint is. But she's not if you make an effort in class. You just have to realize that she has a sarcastic sense of humor and it's not that she doesn't like you, it's just that's the way she is. If you catch her sarcastic remarks they're hysterical. Just don't get turned off too quickly. She also makes an incredible effort to learn everybody's name which is amazing of her. Basically take any class Merrer teaches.

Jan 2009

Merrer is very well organized and on top of things. She lectures very clearly and concisely. If you have the opportunity to take a class with her, I suggest you do it. Her grading -- at least for Mod Tech-- is very fair.

Dec 2007

Prof. Merrer is exceedingly organized; that is the best thing about this class. That sounds lame, but organic chemistry is difficult enough, so her ability to present it in a clear manner is refreshing. The tests are difficult, but if you stay on top of the material, go to office hours, do the un-graded problem sets, and work really hard, you will most likely do well. It's a hard class, but what do you expect? Prof. Merrer teaches it well, but the responsibility is on you to spend a good amount of time really learning the material. There are mostly pre-meds and Chem majors in the class, some of whom manage to get 100s on exams.... I believe the class is curved, at the end, to a B-/C+ as other Organic classes are.

Aug 2004

I LOVED THIS CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!! for all of you who said she was condesending (she was a little), and that it was hard, just didn't study enough. So it was kinda a lot of work, but if you did the problem sets, and kept up with the lectures, you could easily stay on top of things. The one thing bad thing about this class was her office hours. They really weren't that helpful, but having a study group is a must. Your friends will help you through the material, and it will be totally worth it in the end. You will be able to say you passed organic chemisty...

Feb 2004

Reasonable, helpful, approachable. Her lectures are well organized and her office hours are always helpful. She cares about her students and is passionate about chemistry. She is definitely one of the best professors that I've had thus far. If you keep up with the work and put in the effort, you'll both do well and enjoy the class.

Jan 2004

Professor Dina Merrer is condescending. If you are pre-med, I have four words for you: TAKE IT AT COLUMBIA!!!! If you are a Biology or a Chemistry major, and you must take the class, I pity you. Granted, Professor Merrer's lecturing style of writing on the board as she speaks makes it easy to take notes. However, the lectures are an absolute horror to sit through, Going to office hours is pointless. There are weekly problem sets, handed out during recitation periods even during weeks when you have exams in the class. Furthermore, the questions are so difficult that they serve no practical purpose in the class. Her exams do not relate to those problems, or to the assigned book problems, which are even more useless. The readings are so pointless that even Professor Merrer advises you not to make them a priority. She also puts up practice exams, which are the closest you will come to predicting the format of the exam. However, the three exams are very challenging, and she will throw in surprises, so be prepared. The best way to study for them is to go over all of the reactions until you know them cold. Another important note is that Professor Merrer is extremely sensitive to any “disruptions” in the class. This includes people walking across the room, people’s cell phones being turned on, and people talking outside of the classroom. Good luck, and may the force be with you.

Jan 2004

A truly great professor who is dedicated to teaching. You'll learn to love orgo and will come away with a solid foundation in organic chemistry. She writes up all the notes on the boards, so there's no need to even crack open the text. Prof Merrer is a very lucid lecturer. Her tests are very fair and straightforward. Sometimes she brings homebaked cookies and gave us all engraved pencils at the end of the last class (doubt Katz/Doubleday/Cornish/Nuckolls would ever do this for their students). She's perhaps the best professor I've ever had at Columbia (even though she's a Barnard prof).

Dec 2003

Professor Merrer is one of the best professors and the most organized lecturers I have had in my college life. Taking the class with her desensatised my chem-phobia. I hated G-Chem. But, Orgo makes a lot of sense. I got a pretty good grade in both Orgo I and II. I did all the problem sets, attended every possible office hour and review session, did half of assigned textbook problems, did tons of other problems online and of course, all practiced exams. Without doing these, don't expect to score high on her exams. Her exams are challenging, but I am ok with them all the way. If you think you are hardworking, take orgo with will learn a lot and get an A.

Dec 2003

I would definitely reccoment Prof. Merrer to everyone. She is so laid back, has a great sense of humor, and actually makes organic chemistry enjoyable. Office hours are great- she is not intimidating and provides such a comfortable atmosphere. She really enjoys what she does and is always out to help her students without making them feel stupid.

Nov 2003

Professor Merrer is the best professor I have had so far. She is clear, organized, and fair. Her lectures are easy to follow and she writes everything you need to know on the board. The class is a lot of work, and her exams are challenging but fair. Professor Merrer is a refreshing professor becasue she really enjoys teaching, she makes an effort to learn your name, and most importantly, she honestly wants you to succeed and do well. She cares about all of her students and is always there to help you. I highly recommend taking chemistry with professor Merrer, she is amazing.

Oct 2003

I have never had a better professor in my college carreer. Prof. Merrer is clear, organized, and makes Organic Chemistry fun. She is always available, holds tons of review sessions before the exam, and is very committed to making sure everybody understands her. Her class made me regret that I am not a Chemistry major.

Aug 2003

Prof. Merrer is, by far, one of the best professors I have had. She could not be a better lecturer. Her lectures are very well organized and structured. She puts much effort into teaching the course and makes every attempt to help students understand the material. Her tests get progressively harder, but they are fair. The weekly (not mandatory) problem sets are extremely helpful. The best advice for someone who takes a course with her is to do the problem sets and read the lecture notes. Textbook, although well written, is somewhat useless, but textbook problems are a very good practice. Another few good pieces of advice: do not fall behind, stay in pace with the course, if you don't understand ask her-she will definitely help(!!!), use every chance to attend office hours (even if you don't have any questions, it's quite useful to listen), attend all recitation sessions (remember: practice makes perfect!!!)

Aug 2003

I would recommend her. She was well organized, accessable, and mostly kept me awake during the 9:10 classes. She didn't have much patience with overly shy or lazy students during the problem sessions, but she got her point across. Interesting sense of humor. You do need to do the problem sets to keep up with class BUT they make the exams easier.