OXFORD, Mississippi — Chemistry and chemical engineering students from across the Southeast and Southwest recently gathered at the University of Mississippi for a two-day conference designed to promote STEM careers for people of color.
Some 120 students and researchers, including 95 in-person participants, attended the joint South East and South West regional conference. National Organization for the Career Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, or NOBCChE on the Ole Miss campus. Students represented 70% of the total number of participants in the hybrid event.
“The conference showcased the research excellence of black chemists and engineers considered the top experts in their respective fields,” said Murrell Godfrey, professor of chemistry and Past President of NOBCChE. “It also provided young researchers with a platform to present original research and receive valuable feedback.”
More than 75 students from underrepresented backgrounds in chemistry, chemical engineering, and related STEM fields took part in networking and professional development opportunities. Milcah Jackson and Joerg Schlatterer, both of the American Chemical Society, presented professional development workshops on creating effective resumes and resumes and making personal connections that matter.
Former NOBCChE Presidents Emanual Waddell and Marquita “Dr. Q” Qualls featured on “Opportunities with the National Science Foundation” and “Establishing Your Brand,” respectively.
Students also entered oral presentation and poster competitions, with cash prizes up for grabs. First, second and third place winners in each category shared $1,650 in prize money.
Tomayo Berida, research assistant in pharmacognosy at UM, won first place in the poster presentation competition. The original Nigerian’s poster, ‘Novel 1,2,4-Triazolyl Pyridine Agent’s Potent Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ discusses ongoing efforts to develop a new class of potent agents against the organism that causes tuberculosis.
“I was beyond excited (to win),” Berida said. “It was gratifying to note that my poster presentation was well received by students, faculty and judges at the conference.”
Davita Watkins, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UM, was among the keynote speakers. She recently won a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her work elucidating the role of sigma-hole interactions in the advanced functional materials she develops in her on-campus labs.
Others who gave keynote addresses included LSU Professor Isaiah Warner and Philip W. West, professor emeritus of analytical and environmental chemistry at LSU; Montray Leavy, deputy chief technology officer at Entegris in Singapore; and LaRico Treadwell, R&D chemist and materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories.
Students also participated in a graduate expo which allowed undergraduate students to learn about the best graduate university programs and job opportunities. Schools and organizations represented included:
- Auburn University
- Texas A&M University
- LS-PAC MODELS Center
- Jackson State University
- the UM departments of Biomolecular Sciences and Chemistry and Biochemistry and Engineering school
- Emory University Department of Chemistry
- Louisiana State University
- the american chemical society
Ole Miss academic units provided undergraduate students with information on various doctoral programs and tours of their departments. Professionals and students had the opportunity to visit the School of Pharmacy’s marijuana and medicinal plant gardens.
“The conference provided a space for discussion to foster partnerships and collaborations that can lead to new research, innovations and solutions to global challenges,” said Godfrey. “It also allowed NOBCChE student chapter members to give back to the community by performing a chemical magic show for approximately 30 Coffeeville, Mississippi, Upward Bound students in grades 9-12 during the end-of-conference barbecue. »
The National Science Board recently awarded its 2022 Public Service Award to NOBCChE. The award honors exemplary public service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering.