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Santa Monica College's Chemistry Club Wins Major Recognition for Second Straight Year
By Lookout Staff
April 2, 2019 -- For the second straight year, the world’s largest scientific society recognized Santa Monica College's Chemistry Club with its highest student honor last month.
SMC was the only community college student-run club in the state to receive the American Chemical Society's (ACS) “Outstanding” award for the second year in a row, school officials said.
The award was presented at a ceremony March 31 in Orlando, Florida, where SMC's club was also presented with the Green Chemistry Award, officials said.
ACS President Peter K. Dorhout, Ph.D. commended the club’s faculty advisors Jennifer Hsieh and Travis Pecorelli for "setting such a fine example for other chapters and being exemplary chemistry ambassadors!”
“Few faculty members are willing to make the great commitment of time and energy that a successful chapter requires,” Dorhout wrote in a letter.
“Professor Hsieh and Professor Pecorelli’s efforts certainly represent the best in undergraduate science education and mentoring around the country," he wrote.
SMC's club was among the 69 student chapters chosen from 400 chapters nationwide that submitted reports of work accomplished during the past school year.
The activities included visits to the CREST (Childcare, Recreation, Enrichment, Sports, Together) program at Santa Monica's Will Rogers and Grant Elementary Schools, where the students led schoolchildren in hands-on science demonstrations.
The demonstrations involved "extracting DNA from strawberries and exploring the non-Newtonian properties of Oobleck (a cornstarch and water slurry)," school officials said.
The club also hosted approximately 60 John Adams Middle School (JAMS) students in SMC’s chemistry labs where "they performed a UV/VIS spectrophotometry experiment to determine the concentration of FD&C yellow dye #5 in Mountain Dew."
In addition, the club spearheaded the first annual community SMC STEM Festival on April 21, 2018, an interdepartmental collaboration between faculty and students across STEM fields, that featured hands-on experiments, live demonstrations and interactive workshops.
Faculty adviser Jennifer Hsieh said that the work of the Chemistry Club is important “on many levels.”
“For our students, it’s an opportunity to gain leadership and communication skills while sharing their passion for the sciences with the community,” said Hsieh.
“I have come across people that are intimidated by science and it’s my hope that through our outreach efforts we’ll break down that barrier.”
Other clubs recognized with an "Outstanding Award" included clubs from the University of Arizona, the University of California-Riverside, UC Davis and UC San Diego.
Ninety-two student chapters received the “Commendable” award, which is one one step below the “Outstanding” award, while 145 chapters received “honorable mention.”
SMC's chapter was among the 72 recognized for its promotion of “green chemistry.”
The American Chemical Society, which was founded in 1876, is the world’s largest scientific society.
Its mission is "to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people," according to the Society.
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