“This is a very prestigious meeting, so it is quite an honor to have our students present on the national stage.”
Professor Arwyn Smalley spent months preparing her undergraduate chemistry students for this. In front of over 10,000 other chemists, chemical engineers, graduate and postdoctoral students, and representatives of other university chemistry departments, ten of Saint Martin’s University chemistry students presented their own independent research at the American Chemical Society national conference in San Diego.
“Saint Martin’s grossly over-prepares us for this presentation,” Brendan Brunner ’16, says. Saint Martin’s bachelor of science program requires seniors to present their research at least once during their senior year and offers the opportunity to do this at the national-conference level ever year, “but a majority of us go multiple times,” says Brunner. The American Chemical Society holds national conferences twice a year and regional meetings six or more times each year.
Chemistry students at Saint Martin’s are recommended to take a one-credit semester course specifically designed to prepare for their own research presentations, to do academic research through chemical literature, abstracts and scientific journals, and to prepare for conference seminar sessions. Deanna Olson ’16, presented her research at both the American Chemical Society conference in San Diego and also at the Murdock College Science Research Conference in Vancouver, WA, this year. “Going to different research talks is a good way to see what’s going on in the world,” Olson says. “It’s also a great opportunity to meet graduate school recruiters and to see what kind of research each graduate school specializes in.” Olson originally came to Saint Martin’s to study pre-med, but fell in love with organic chemistry. Other students who went to San Diego this spring were Elizabeth Cruz, Alicia Soto, Rebecca Perdue, Renee Hudson (pictured), Steven Miller, and Christine Knight.
Olson is also the secretary of Saint Martin’s Chemistry club, an extracurricular group that fundraises in order to send students across the nation to the American Chemical Society conference every year. In addition to fundraising, the club also puts on science activities for the local Boys & Girls club and the Hands on Children’s Museum, and travels to local elementary and middle schools to judge science fairs.
“The outreach that our students have done throughout the year has also provided opportunities for them to become comfortable with informal science communication, which may be the most important skill they learn,” says Dr. Arwyn Smalley, Ph.D., of Saint Martin’s Chemistry department. “I love that our students can share [science] with each other and with people of all ages in the community.”
But the American Chemical Society Chemistry Conference was no science fair. “This is a very prestigious meeting, so it is quite an honor to have our students present on the national stage,” Dr. Smalley says.