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Catawba Students Attend National Chemistry Conference

May 19, 2016

Category: Academics, Chemistry, Events, Students

by Shannon Garrick '17

acs16b.jpgA group of Catawba College students recently attended the National American Chemical Society (ACS) conference in San Diego, California. In addition to the myriad of multi-faceted research presentations, there were also symposia geared specifically for undergraduates and their ACS chapters.

Dr. ChaMarra Saner, assistant professor of chemistry and ACS faculty advisor, accompanied the students presenting research at the conference, along with junior Justin Burroughs and freshman Trevor Williams.

Students come from as far away as Puerto Rico to participate and showcase their student chapter in events such as the demo exchange. At the exchange, schools share unique and interesting chemistry demonstrations that will ultimately be shared with the public. Students also were able to view other students' research, attend talks on certain topics (analytical, medicinal, and organic chemistry), learn about graduate programs for chemistry, and check out the various vendors selling chemicals and instruments for chemistry.

At the culmination of these activities, student chapters presented posters showcasing their chapter work for the academic year. Catawba was well-represented in the poster competition and won honorable mentions. Fernando Guerrero-Nava, current president of Catawba's ACS chapter, has expressed his desire for the chapter to strive for outstanding or excellent mentions at the National conference in years to come.

acs16a.jpgACS allows for students and faculty alike to further their knowledge about science through research, educating others, and guiding students along their career paths. At Catawba, ACS has hosted several chemistry demonstrations on and off campus including a visit to Knox Middle School's "Alive after Five" program. A few examples of the demonstrations include exploring the chemical process of silvering Cheerwine bottles/test tubes made of glass, making lava lamps while looking at the characteristics of hydrophobic/hydrophilic substances, and discovering the world of household items as they relate to acids and bases.

However, these activities are just the tip of the iceberg. In September, members of the student chapter of ACS co-hosted, alongside the biology honor society TriBeta, a meet-and-greet game night and pizza party for current declared majors, in addition to anyone else interested in the possibility of science in their future.

Saner expressed that "as an ACS chapter, we make every effort to show our presence in the community. More importantly, we want to extend our interactions to the underprivileged community of Rowan County. Although we have a hand in the community, we would like the opportunity to reach more people on a larger platform in an effort to extend the knowledge base and create an excitement around STEM for individuals that aren't normally exposed to this program."

Future plans for the ACS include community involvement through hands-on activities for afterschool programs, hand-on activities for schools that visit Catawba's campus, assisting local students with science fair projects and tutoring students in chemistry and mathematics. Stay tuned for the fall social, as well as an all-science day during National Chemistry Week hosted by ACS and Gamma Sigma Episilon.

For more information about ACS, please go to

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