Here is the story of how I chose thechemmeister as my online identifier:
In 1998 I moved to Ames, Iowa to pursue a PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry with an emphasis on Chemical Education at Iowa State University. I only lasted a year, but while I was there I set up an account on AOL Instant Messenger so I could communicate with friends and family back home in real time for free. I was sort of late to the whole AOL thing, so it took me a long time to choose a screen name that I liked and that was still available. I wasn’t willing to settle for “martinbullock13679” or something equally meaningless.
I came up with “thechemmeister” after I started blending German words into my chemistry identity. I liked it because it pays homage to my study of German in college and my first teaching job in Nuernberg, Germany, as well as my MS in chemistry, which I earned from UNC Wilmington in 1996. When my roommate, Andrea and I graduated from UNCW, we threw ourselves a little party. My thesis advisor, Dr. Jimmy Reeves, sent an email out to the faculty inviting them to the celebration, referring to me as “Martin the Master” which I thought was pretty awesome. He also bought us a keg of Pete’s Wicked Ale, which I thought was super-awesome.
But I digress.
When I dropped out of my PhD program in the spring of 1999, I was fortunate enough to land my first high school teaching job in Washington DC at Georgetown Day High School. Shortly after I started teaching chemistry there, I realized I could better serve my students by holding online study sessions on AIM. Since then my students at two different schools in DC and one school in Los Angeles have known me online as thechemmeister, and I think that is pretty groovy.