The St. John’s University student chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) received a Commendable award for its activities during the 2017-2018 academic year. St. John’s was selected from among 400 ACS chapters for 2017-2018 and was among 92 chapters chosen for the Commendable award. Faculty advisor Neil Jespersen, Ph.D., was also recognized for his commitment to the chapter’s success and to undergraduate science education.
St. John’s ACS chapter officers Alex Ng (president), Ishmal Siddiqui (vice president), Joseph Joudeh Almasri (treasurer), and Ryan Pangilinan (secretary) joined Associate Professor Alison Hyslop, Ph.D., and Dr. Jespersen to receive the award at the 257th ACS National Meeting in Orlando, FL from March 31 to April 4, 2019.
The St. John’s ACS chapter has received previous recognition from the national organization. It was awarded Honorable Mentions for the 1997-1998, 2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2012-2013, and 2016-2017 academic years. The chapter received a previous Commendable award for 2013-2014. It received an Outstanding award for 2011-2012 and 2014-2015, and a Certificate of Achievement for 2015-2016.
The chapter aims to recruit students into the study of the sciences and the chemistry community. Members hold weekly seminars on topics related to chemistry and invite all majors to attend. They established STEAM-A-Thon in spring 2018 in collaboration with other STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) student organizations on campus, including the Biology Honors Society, the Watson Pre-Health Organization, Math Club, Art Club, Society of Physics Students, and the Earth Club. The event featured a virtual reality simulation of surgeries, a STEAM-based Jeopardy, chess, Tangrams, Jenga, and other fun, educational activities.
The chapter also participated in National Chemistry Week at the New York Hall of Science. Thirty St. John’s students introduced Chemistry to young people, and engaged their interest with experiments and activities like creating pet rocks. In the fall and spring semesters, the chapter hosted ACS Program-In-A-Box events and invited students to enjoy free pizza and refreshments while viewing educational ACS webinars. They also participated in the Annual Chemistry Challenge at Queensborough Community College in April 2018 and hosted a t-shirt sale fundraiser in May 2018.
In addition to their outreach efforts, the St. John’s ACS chapter works to build community within STEM fields at St. John’s. When doctoral students in Biology are defending dissertations, they will organize to attend and support the student. They also work closely with Chemistry faculty to advance the department’s research and professional development initiatives.
“Through faculty interaction, networking, and events, we’re able to see for ourselves what a professional chemist does,” said Ng. “We’re also focused on recruiting more students into the sciences and showing them that Chemistry is a lot of fun."