▼ eResources

Grenfell Campus
Menu Button
Default Interior

Geoff Rayner-Canham



Geoff Rayner-Canham, B.Sc. (London) D.I.C. (Imperial College) Ph.D. (London) F.C.I.C. F.R.S.C.

Email: grcanham@grenfell.mun.ca

Honorary Research Professor and Professor Emeritus (Chemistry)


  • History of science
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Chemical education
  • Outreach chemistry
Courses Taught

CHEM 1810  Elements of Chemistry Fall 2016 (distance) - Fall 2020 and Winter 2021

CHEM 1900 Chemistry in Everyday Life  (distance) - Spring 2021

CHEM/ENVS 3261  Atmospheric Chemistry (distance) - Winter 2021

GNDR 2001  Women and Science




Being a faculty member at a small campus was always my career goal.  I enjoy communicating my passion for chemistry and science & gender issues in small-class environments where students can engage with me in questioning and discussion.  Being at Grenfell enables me to have a balance of teaching, scholarly work, and community engagement. Grenfell is also a place at which one can enjoy pleasant discourse with faculty and staff from all other disciplines.


Chemistry Education

Providing the best Teaching & Learning environment is a continuous and exciting challenge with new ideas to try (and to abandon if they do not work).  Including Raman spectroscopy in the laboratory part of the CHEM 2210 course has been one of my innovations.


Another of my interests is writing thought-provoking articles for Canada's chemistry high school magazine, Chem13 News.

I contend that Chemistry students should be able to write about chemistry.  In both CHEM 2210 and CHEM/ENVS 3261, students are required to write an academic review paper.  Following some editing, several of these reviews have been subsequently published.



Total Chem Ed Publications: 121

Total Chem Ed Conference Presentations: 92

Total grants for Chem Ed equipment: $87,200


Sample Publication:

G. Rayner-Canham, "Does Solid Lithium Hydrogen Carbonate Exist?" Chem13 News, 5 (April 2013).


Sample Chemistry Education Publication with a student:

G. Rayner-Canham and J. Grandy, "Was Molybdenum a Limiting Reagent in Earth's Biological Evolution?" Education in Chemistry, 48, 144-147 (2011).


Latest Conference Presentation:

C. Liu, G. Rayner-Canham, and D. Wheeler, "Using Raman Spectrophotometry as a Routine Tool in Undergraduate Chemistry Courses," 98th Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference, Ottawa, 13-17 June 2015.



Course Development


Previously, I have developed the CHEM 2210, CHEM/ENVS 3261, and GNDR 2001 courses.  My current major interest involves the development and enhancement of on-line chemistry courses offered by distance (DELTS).  'Live' classes are so much better for conveying enthusiasm and being able to interact directly with students.  However, many people live in remote and isolated locations and for one reason or another, do not have the opportunity to attend university in person.  It is for this reason that Ms. Debbie Wheeler and I have developed on-line versions of two chemistry courses, CHEM 1810 and CHEM 1900.


CHEM 1900 is designed for any student who wishes to become 'chemistry literate' and learn about the chemistry of food, drugs, plastics, etc., and the associated principles of chemistry. 


CHEM 1810 is designed for students who have no, or little, chemistry background and who either need such a course for a health science-related career, or for knowledge of essential chemistry principles before taking regular first year university chemistry.  Ms. Wheeler and I received a national award for the design of CHEM 1810.


Grant towards course development: $8,000


Latest Conference Presentations:

G. W. Rayner-Canham and D. Wheeler, "A Novel Online Chemistry Course for Non-Science Majors," 98th Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference, Ottawa, 13-17 June 2015.

G. W. Rayner-Canham and D. Wheeler, "Memorial Labs @Home," Invited Presentation, 22nd Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, Pennsylvania State University, College Station, August, 2012.


Textbook Authoring

Textbook authoring is an activity which can consume one's life.  It is also incredibly rewarding in terms of forcing one to think about content and flow of what one teaches.  By far the most successful text I have co-authored is Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry which is the world's best-seller in its field and which has been translated into Korean, Spanish (for South America), Japanese, German, Khmer (for Cambodia), and Portuguese (for Brazil).  The text is currently in its sixth edition.



Textbooks co-authored: 5 (three with financial support of the MUN Subvention Fund)


Latest Text Edition:

G.W. Rayner-Canham and T.L. Overton, Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry: 6th Edition, W.H. Freeman Publishing Co., New York, 2014.


History of Science Research

For the last 20 years, my major research effort has been a collaboration with Marelene Rayner-Canham on the history of women in science.  Starting with the biography of long-forgotten Canadian nuclear scientist, Harriet Brooks, we have more recently been focussing our efforts on the untold stories of pioneering British women chemists.


Women in Science Books authored: 5

Women in Science Research Publications: 38

Grants for research on the history of women in science: $21,500


Latest History of Chemistry Book:

M.F. Rayner-Canham and G.W. Rayner-Canham, A Chemical Passion: The Forgotten Saga of Chemistry at British Independent Girls' Schools, 1820-1940, Institute of Education Press, London, to be published 2016.


Latest History of Chemistry Publication:

M.F. Rayner-Canham and G.W. Rayner-Canham, "The Heuristic Method, Precursor of Guided-Inquiry: Henry Armstrong and British Girls' Schools, 1890-1920," Journal of Chemical Education, 92, 463-466 (2015).


Latest History of Chemistry Conference Presentation:

Geoff Rayner-Canham and Marelene Rayner-Canham, "The Long-Forgotten Rise and Fall of Chemistry Teaching at British Independent Girls' Schools, 1820s-1930s" Invited presentation, 99th Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference, Halifax, June 2016.



Philosophy of Chemistry

Though the discovery of patterns amongst the chemical elements dates back to 1869, it is a common misconception that it is a fossilized periodic table.  My other area of investigation has been the identification of overlooked linkages amongst the chemical elements.  These discoveries have resulted in five research publications so far, and two invited chapters in books on new advances in our understanding of the chemical elements.


Invited Chapters in Books on the Periodic Table: 2

Publications on the Periodic Table: 6

Conference Presentations on the Periodic Table: 9


Latest Publication on the Periodic Table:

G. Rayner-Canham, "Periodic Patterns: the Group (n) and Group (n+10) linkage," Foundations of Chemistry, 15, 229-237 (2013).


Latest Presentation on the Periodic Table:

G. Rayner-Canham, "The Periodic Table: So Much More Than Groups & Periods," invited lecture, Ursinus College, Pennsylvania, 11 November 2012.



Recent Awards



NSERC Award for Science Promotion (2010)

Chemical Institute of Canada, Chemical Education Award (2008)

3M Teaching Fellowship Award (2007)

Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences (APICS) Canpolar Science Communication Award (2006)

The President's Award for Distinguished Teaching, Memorial University (2005)

Sir Wilfred Grenfell College Teaching Award (2003)

F.A. Aldrich Award (Memorial University) for contributions to the Public Awareness of Science (1996)


Community Activities


In my view, it is essential to interact with the community.  I have accomplished this task mainly through Chemistry is Everywhere! Shows, both on-campus and to schools across Labrador, rural Newfoundland, Quebec's lower-north-shore, and Nunavut.  The team members on the past outreaches have been: Christina Smeaton (2002-04); Amy Snook (2005-06); Tonia Churchill (2006-07); Natalie Alteen (2007-08); Laura Griffin (2009-11); and Tanika Chaisson (2011-13).


I have continued with on-campus events (such as chemistry at Halloween) with the new team of Robin Taylor and Yu-Ru Lee.  And we are planning to take the 'show on the road' again to the Labrador south-east coast.


Publications on Outreach: 2

Conference presentations on Outreach: 7

Grants towards outreach activities: $171,300

Latest Publication:

G. Rayner-Canham, R. Taylor, and Y-R. Lee, "Making Chemistry Relevant to Indigenous Peoples," Chem13 News, 10-12, February 2016.


Latest Conference Presentations:

C. Smeaton, A. Snook, L. Griffin, and G. Rayner-Canham, "We Have Changed Lives: Lessons from Twelve Years of Chemistry Outreach," International Conference on Chemistry Education, Toronto, July 2014.

N. Alteen, T. Chaisson, and G. Rayner-Canham, "We Have Changed Lives: Lessons from Twelve Years of Chemistry Outreach," 97th Canadian Society for Chemistry Conference, Vancouver, June 2014.


Undergraduate Theses Supervised and Co-Supervised


My theses supervision has focussed upon literature research of environmental issues.


Latest Thesis Supervised:
Rumbidzai R. Kanyangarara, "Arsenic in the Environment and its Relevance to Newfoundland Groundwater." (Winter 2013)


Chair, Environmental Science

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland
20 University Drive, Corner Brook, NL
A2H 5G4, Canada

Office: AS3015
Phone: (709) 639-6515
Email: jsircom@grenfell.mun.ca

Grenfell Logo

© Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, NL Canada Toll Free 1-888-637-6269

Privacy Policy    Login    Library    Sitemap    Site Feedback    Contact

Grenfell Logo

© Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, NL Canada. Toll Free 1-888-637-6269

Privacy Policy




Site Feedback