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Professor of Chemistry Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., and nine chemistry students attended the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Conference March 29 – April 3. The Olivet ACS chapter was awarded the Outstanding Student Chapter award, the highest award presented to a chapter. Students also listened to talks by chemistry professionals, graduate students and undergraduate students, spoke to industry professionals, participated in graduate school preparation classes and presented a poster on the activity of Olivet’s ACS chapter.

Professor Lewis expresses her appreciation for her students’ efforts and dedication to pursuing their goal of the Outstanding Student Chapter award.

“I am proud of the students for taking on the challenge of becoming an active chapter and taking the responsibility for doing all of the planning and coordination that is necessary,” Professor Lewis said. “Having student leaders in our department helps foster a level of professionalism among the other students. I know that being in a national organization will help the students as they move forward after graduation.”

Going the Extra Mile

This year’s success is equally as special to the students.

“It was just so fascinating to see that we finally reached our goal and got the best award ACS has to offer,” senior Nicholas Guerra said. “It feels really good to see that our chapter worked so hard for this award and we finally got one for the first time for our college. Knowing that our chapter worked so hard for this award to make sure that we went the extra mile after reaching our previous years’ goals. Knowing that our chapter likes to give back to the community and having our chapter get close with each other is truly special.”

“We have really worked hard in the last couple of years to become more involved in the community and to build better relationships among the members,” senior Brooke Sturgeon, chapter president, said. “To have that recognized helps make us feel like our hard work wasn’t for nothing.”

“It is really awesome to have OC’s chapter recognized as an Outstanding Student Chapter because you see all these big schools also getting the award,” junior Jordyn Osterland said. “This shows that you close personal relationships and dedication are enough to make a great chemistry program.”

Lessons Learned

From left to right: Amanda Gruszka (senior, chemistry major), Cady La Point (junior, biology major/premedical concentration), Shelby Verlinde (senior, chemistry and biology major), Nicholas Guerra (senior, chemistry major), Brooke Sturgeon (senior, chemistry major), Isaac York (senior, biology major/premedical concentration), Taylor Elley (junior, biology major/premedical concentration), Jordyn Osterland (junior, chemistry major), Bronson Warren (senior, biology major/premedical concentration).

Professor Lewis believes the conference allowed students to grow their professional skills as well.

“I think that seeing industry professionals, professors, post-doctoral students, graduate students and other undergraduate students give oral and poster presentations gives the students additional models of professional behavior,” she said. “They also had to present our chapter’s poster and interact with attendees at the large poster session. Many of the people who stop by this poster are other professors or students from other chapters. Being able to interact with other students also allows our students to practice their networking skills.”

Brooke’s knowledge extended even further than professional development.

“Attending this conference gave me the opportunity to learn new advancements in chemistry, including the production of new equipment that will be used to detect life on other planets!” Brooke said.

Jordyn stresses that the conference offers something for everyone who attends.

“ACS is a conference that everyone can learn from,” she said. “You don’t have to be a chemistry major to enjoy the conference and attending the talks. There are so many disciplines in chemistry, and unique ways that chemistry is used, that there is something for everyone to learn.”

The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society and supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. To learn more about Olivet’s chapter of the ACS, contact Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, at 269.749.7629 or smlewis@olivetcollege.edu. Any student with an interest in chemistry is welcome to join. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu to learn more about Olivet’s chemistry program.

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