Steering Committee Member for the Indiana University Quantitative and Chemical Biology Training Program, 2010 – present
Section Chair of the Southern Indiana Section of the ACS (SISACS), 2010 and 2012
Co-chair of the Indiana University Women in Chemistry Organization, 2008 – present
Executive Committee Member of the Indiana University Women in Science Program Organization, 2008 – present
Activities of the Southern Indiana Section of the ACS
The Southern Indiana Section of the American Chemical Society (SISACS) is working to enhance the educational experiences of the graduate and undergraduate populations at Indiana University and perform outreach activities to inform the greater Indiana community about chemistry. A summary of our recent events is provided here. You can find out more information about our past and future activities at our website. For the calendar year 2012, Dr. Erin Carlson is the Chair, Dr. Kevin Brown is the Chair-Elect, Joseph Kumka is the Secretary, and Dr. Laura Brown the Treasurer. Dr. Kenneth Caulton is our local section Councilor with Dr. Zachary Aron as our Alternate Councilor.
One of the cornerstones of our educational efforts is the initiation of a new seminar series entitled, “Chemistry of Everyday Life.” This series provides a forum to invite speakers in less "traditional" areas of chemistry to present topics of interest to students, faculty, and staff of the greater IU community, as well as the Bloomington city community. SISACS received an ACS Innovative Project Grant to launch this outreach-focused seminar series.
The first speaker in this series, Dr. Eric Bloc, author of "Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and The Science," is from University of Albany - SUNY. Dr. Blockvisited IU during National Chemistry Week on October 22, 2010 to discuss the chemistry of the edible alliums, which include garlic, onions, leeks and chives. Our second speaker, Dr. Charles Bamforth, visited campus on April 21, 2011 and spoke to an audience of more than 200. Dr. Bamforth is a Professor of Food Science and Technology at University of California, Davis and spoke on “Tapping into the Chemistry of Beer and Brewing.” Most recently we hosted Dr. Joseph Schwarcz, Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society to speak about the misconceptions that often create so much confusion about science within society. We are currently in the process of scheduling the next speakers for this series that we anticipate will be of great interest to the undergraduate population at IU and members of the surrounding community.
During the 2009-2010 academic year, SISACS initiated a “Student Selected Seminar Series.” This series is unique in that it provides the graduate student populations of the Departments of Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry with the opportunity to select a prominent speaker and present their research to this scientist during their visit to campus. Student-selected seminar invites are regarded as extremely prestigious, enabling this series to attract a number of very well-known scientists to the IU campus. Thus far we have had six world renowned speakers visit our campus: Dr. Phil Baran, from The Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi from the University of California, Berkley, Dr. Benjamin Cravatt, from The Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Michael Summers, from the University of Maryland, Dr. Fred McLafferty, from Cornell University and Dr. Daniel Nocera from Harvard University.
Student Selected Seminar, September 1, 2010: Jen Hass, Carolyn Bertozzi, Sarah Keane and Darci Trader.
Activities of the IU Women in Chemistry Organization
The IU organization Women in Chemistry (WiChem) seeks to encourage dialog and empower students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty, while at the same time facilitating community building within and among scientific divisions, academic ranks and gender. These goals are being accomplished through a combination of formal and informal events and programs. Dr. Erin Carlson, Dr. Sara Skrabalak and Dr. Maren Pink co-chair this organization.
For example, WiChem sponsors summer research fellowships for outstanding undergraduates from underrepresented groups. In 2011, these summer stipends ($1,000 each) were awarded to undergraduate researchers Danielle Henckel and Yueren Wang, of the research groups of Dr. Dan Mindiola and Dr. S.P. Srinivas, respectively. These stipends enabled undergraduate students to participate in research over the summer, allowing them to gain valuable laboratory experience and facilitating relations with graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty. We hope that these stipends will encourage undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to continue their chemistry training as graduates.
WiChem also established travel awards ($1,000 each) for postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to facilitate attendance of scientific conferences. In 2010-2011, four travel grants were awarded to the following outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral associates: Shelly Hoffman, Amanda Peterson-Mann, Darci Trader,and Yan Zhao. The opportunity to present their work at a professional conference will not only enhance the communication skills of these exceptional female chemists but is also essential for the establishment of the networking relationships likely to be critical later in their careers. As one awardee remarked in her award summary: I was able to discuss my work with several leading scientists and found this to be the most open forum of any conference I have attended. I saw several professors that were at other conferences but this meeting provided a much more open dialogue between students and professors as well as students from different universities. In talking with a variety of professors, I received good advice about how to proceed in my academic future – how to make the best choices to give me the best chances of landing the job of my dreams.
During the 2009-2010 academic year, we also initiated a WIChem-sponsored seminar series to invite prominent female scientists from academia and industry, selected by a committee of students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty. The invitees were encouraged to lecture on a topic of broad interest not only to the Chemistry department but also to other science departments at IU. Dr. Nicole Sampson from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Dr. Teri Odom from Northwestern University were the inaugural speakers in this seminar series. Each speaker spent half of their day on campus with graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, allowing them an opportunity to present their research and network.
WiChem is also committed to providing career development opportunities to the department. We have hosted an evening event entitled, “Introduction to the Postdoctoral Application Process: Perspectives on the Search for a Position,” where graduate students had the opportunity to discuss the application and selection process with current postdoctoral scholars and faculty members. We also recently sponsored a COACh workshop on campus (spring, 2011). Women of the department are also encouraged to get to know one another through informal gatherings hosted by WiChem. Recent events included a potluck dinner, tour and tasting at Butler Winery and an annual family-friendly picnic at Bryan Park.
WiChem visits Butler Winery for a tour and tasting.
The year 2011 was the International Chemistry Year and marked the 100th anniversary of the award of the chemistry Nobel Prize to Marie Curie. Curie was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize and the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes - in physics and chemistry. This anniversary provided an exceptional opportunity to educate the public and the IU community about Marie Curie and her extraordinary contributions to chemistry. In collaboration with the local chapter of the ACS (SISACS), WiChem hosted an event that included a short lecture about her scientific accomplishments and a screening of the film Madame Curie (1943). More than 50 students, faculty, staff and Bloomington citizens, both women and men, attended this event, making it a huge success!