Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Summer Board Member Awards and Accomplishments

We wish to extend our sincerest congratulations to all of our Board Members, as they continue to impress the community with their achievements and contributions!

Several of our Chemical Science Board Members have been recognized for outstanding contributions to their respective fields.

Many other Board Members across the US and Canada have been recognized for their accomplishments with a variety of awards, prizes, and appointments. 

  • Sarah Tolbert was appointed the Director of the new UCLA-led Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables, or SCALAR. Sarah is a professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Materials Science & Engineering and serves on the Editorial Board of Nanoscale Horizons and led the organizing committee of the 10th International Mesostructured Materials Symposium, IMMS10, which took place September 10-13, 2018 at UCLA.
  • Green Chemistry Associate Editor Chao-Jun Li was awarded a prestigious Killam Research Fellowship by the Canada Council for the Arts. CJ is the E.B. Eddy Chair Professor of Chemistry at McGill University, Canada Research Chair in Green/Organic Chemistry, and Director of the NSERC CREATE Center for Green Chemistry Training.
  • Professor Heather Maynard serves on the Editorial Board of Polymer Chemistry and was selected for the 2018 UCLA Faculty Student Development Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.
  • At this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Professor Geoffrey Coates was presented with the 2017 Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the for the best paper published in Science. Geoffrey serves on the Editorial Board of Organic Chemistry Frontiers.
  • Peter Vikesland has been named the Nick Prillaman Professor in Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Peter is the Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Science: Nano and a professor of the civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Other North American Board Members were honored by the RSC with awards and medals for their contributions to advancing the chemical sciences.

  • Professor Bradley Moore, Editorial Board Chair of Natural Product Reports, was honored by the RSC with the Natural Product Award for his pioneering discoveries in the chemical biology, biosynthesis, genomics and engineering of marine natural products. 
  • Professor Warren Piers was recognized for his contributions to detailed mechanistic understanding of catalytic reactions with the 2018 Ludwig Mond Award. Warren is S. Robert Blair Chair in Polymerization Catalysts and Canada Research Chair in the Mechanisms of Homogeneous Catalysis and serves as an Associate Editor for Dalton Transactions.
  • Professor Yang Shao-Horn was honored by the RSC as the first woman to win the Faraday Medal for her work at the chemical/materials physics and physical/materials chemistry interfaces. Prof. Shao-Yang serves on the Editorial Board of Energy & Environmental Sciences 

See all of the 2018 winners of Royal Society of Chemistry Prizes & Awards, which include many of our Advisory Board Members, colleagues and friends from around the world.

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Welcoming Luis Campos, Associate Editor of Chemical Science

Our flagship journal Chemical Science, with its dedicated team of Associate Editors, aims to publish research that’s most important to the chemical sciences community. We were excited to announce the appointment of Professor Luis Campos from Columbia University as an editor for polymer science on the Chemical Science blog, and we enjoyed taking some time to get to know him on a more personal level, from his views on publishing to his love of improv!

What are you most looking forward to as an Associate Editor at Chemical Science?

I’m excited to be a part of Chem Sci because I am hoping to serve and represent the polymer community, bringing visibility to the creative work that many people are doing worldwide. With its broad target audience, Chem Sci is an ideal venue to highlight the work of talented young chemists.

Luis Campos, Chemical Science

What recommendations do you have about publishing journal articles that was helpful in your experience?

Clarity and attention to details in the story you’re telling. Setting the stage in a paper is as important as the results one describes. For example, in my group, we’ve found it very useful to focus on “Figure 1” to try to use images to represent the hypothesis or the story that we’re trying to tell in the paper. It is not always straightforward in all cases, but it’s an important exercise when we write papers. There are many other tips floating around, and I highly recommend that all authors keep an open mind when learning how to write.

Could you share something you’re excited about related to your research or the field?

My group studies small molecules and macromolecules in a way that I can categorize as falling in the bucket of physical macromolecular chemistry, akin to the well-known field of physical organic chemistry. Interestingly, there is not one particular topic that I’m excited about in my research field since there are many exciting challenges out there. I recently participated in an NSF-led workshop to establish a 10-year roadmap of challenges in polymer science and engineering. The final report is a valuable piece, outlining some of the most exciting and challenging areas of research. 

There is one thing that I am passionate about –
the polymer community is awesome!

However, there is one thing that I am passionate about – the polymer community is awesome! It’s a very warm, kind, understanding, and supportive group of people. I have had my share of ups and downs, and the support I’ve received from friends and colleagues in the community is just amazing and energizing.

How did you get involved with improv?

A friend of mine introduced me to Thank You, Robot, an improv comedy group in NYC. They are really talented individuals who perform regularly in the city. Each set involves a research scientist presenting their work (~10 min talk). Then, the improv team does a whole comedy routine around it. It’s super entertaining and fun and I always look forward to working with them and their shows. 

For more tips on how to publish your research, you might find some helpful notes from the RSC in the online guide.

We warmly welcome Luis to the Chemical Science team and look forward to publishing more of the community’s innovative research, especially in the areas of polymer chemistry and organic & functional materials!

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Outstanding Student Profile: Caroline Rouget-Virbel

We introduced the Certificate of Excellence in 2017 and continued it in 2018 as a way for institutions to recognize students who have shown outstanding achievement in the chemical sciences; this year we want to showcase one of the recipients who embodies the spirit of the award and who inspires those around her to pursue their dreams while making a difference not only in their own communities but also those around the world. We are pleased to introduce you to Caroline Alice Rouget-Virbel, who will be starting her graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley this fall.

At Princeton’s Class Day ceremony for Chemistry seniors in the Class of 2018, Caroline was recognized for her academic performance and her contributions to the department. She earned Highest Honors in Chemistry, was elected to Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society, and was awarded The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Certificate of Excellence. But Caroline was not the typical Princeton University undergraduate. She grew up in Pélissanne, a small town in the south of France, in what most would describe as a rural area. She attended a public school and then applied to an international boarding school, Ecole Internationale de Manosque (EIM) in the French Alps, for her high school education. There she obtained a British OIB (International Optional Baccalaureate) diploma, a joint educational degree between the French Department of Education and the University of Cambridge.

While in high school, Caroline developed interests in both science and foreign languages, which in turn got her excited about applying to foreign universities in the U.S. and England. To put this in context, Caroline grew up in a comprehensively working class environment and it was not typical and expected in her family to apply to college. To then take the step of applying outside of France for higher education was quite remarkable. She took a major leap of faith and applied to Princeton University. When she was offered admission along with a generous grant for financial aid, she simply could not turn down the opportunity. Needless to say, her acceptance of Princeton’s offer not only provided a highly constructive four-year experience for Caroline, but her contributions to the department and to the campus as a whole proved to be a plus for the University community.

During her first week on the Princeton campus, Caroline quickly identified a way to produce a steady income. Always determined to pay her own bills and add to her personal savings as much as possible, she held down a paid position as a Dining Services Student Manager, training new incoming workers and overseeing meal services for her dining hall and for special catered events. In fact, she continued to hold that job during all four years at Princeton. The summer after freshman year, she added another country to her growing list of travel experiences by serving as a volunteer at the Mahatma Gandhi Orphanage in Jaipur, India. While there, she assisted with childcare, global health initiatives, and infectious disease prevention efforts. And, of course, she explored the area and soaked in the culture.

Caroline hails from Pélissanne, a small town in rural France and is the first person in her family to apply for college, but by following her passion for science, foreign language, and community service, she has managed to expand her horizons and travel the globe.

During Caroline’s freshman and sophomore years, she began work with the campus mental health initiative. In addition, knowing how it felt to be an international student, she became involved with the University’s David International Center, taking on the responsibility of planning and leading events for incoming undergraduate and graduate students, as well as year-long community-building activities. This particular type of involvement helped not only others adjust, but also helped her as she took steps to find her place within the University, so much so that she continued to contribute to this program until she graduated. During the spring of her sophomore year, Caroline gathered information about the various science departments at the University and, after much deliberation, elected to major in chemistry. With that plan in place, she lost no time laying out her “What Next?” The summer of 2016 offered her yet another opportunity to live abroad. Caroline traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to pursue research at the National Children’s Research Center. She studied the underlying patho-mechanisms of the dysregulation of the NOX-1 and -4 genes in Hirschsprung’s-Associated Enterocolitis. Her work gave her the opportunity to add skills in protein expression and PCR analysis, gel electrophoresis, and immunofluorescence microscopy to her research “toolbox.”

As a first semester junior, Caroline decided to join a research lab a full term earlier than her peers. That plan led to a round of investigations to identify a lab that would be the right fit with her interests and her style of learning. By the second month of the term, she was hard at work in the lab of Professor David W. MacMillan, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry. While 12 to 14 hours of original research per week is the expectation for young chemists, Caroline spent as much time on her project as the demands of her coursework and extracurricular commitments permitted. That dedication spoke volumes since the junior year for chemistry majors is extremely demanding with regard to reading assignments, papers to write, problem sets to complete, discussion groups to attend, and the time commitment need to complete the required experimental laboratory course. She also took on the role of undergraduate preceptor in our newly restructured organic chemistry sequence. Preceptors assist instructors of auxiliary class sessions that work on learning material and practicing skills outside of the lecture period. Caroline was one of the preceptors instrumental in developing and running review sessions prior to exams. She also spent many hours tutoring students one-on-one, providing not only academic guidance, but also a “Can Do” attitude for her students who were concerned about doing well in mastering a difficult subject.

During that same period, Caroline elected to plan for a semester of study abroad with the goal of completing her Spring 2017 term in Australia. The opportunity to explore another country and live in yet another culture proved irresistible. Within no time at all, plans were put in place for her to study at the University of Melbourne. Adjusting to a program with courses that involved no periodic evaluation until the final exam, blending into a different culture, completing an original research project in a new chemistry laboratory, and pursuing opportunities to explore Australia formed the perfect combination for this intellectually curious student. And, as luck would have it, her sister was pursuing a program in Southeast Asia, so they were able to meet up and travel together, exploring the beautiful landscape of New Zealand, spending two full weeks road-tripping and camping around the South island. Caroline’s world was expanding rapidly from the rural area of France into a global viewpoint.

The summer prior to the start of her senior year was spent on the Princeton campus in order to focus on her senior thesis research. During those months, she was the senior class catalyst, bringing all of the summer researchers together for meals and other activities to create a sense of community. In her senior year, the craving for travel led her to plan a trip to the Caribbean for yet another cultural experience, which she hopes will be her next voyage into unfamiliar lands. In September of senior year, Caroline was off and running, returning to her role as a preceptor and tutor for undergraduate organic chemistry courses. Her dedication has yet to be matched. She developed a reputation for patience and careful instruction. As side projects, she designed a senior class t-shirt that included a structure from each of the senior chemistry theses and organized various get-togethers for her classmates. She also served as a Peer Academic Advisor, shepherding first and second year undergraduates as they settled into University life. All the while, Caroline was tackling her own demanding academic schedule, which included graduate level coursework, and was spending innumerable hours on her laboratory research project. The culmination of Caroline’s research was the submission of her senior thesis entitled “Application of Dual Nickel-Photoredox Catalysis to the Synthesis of Unnatural Amino Acids.”

To quote her faculty mentor, Professor MacMillan, “Caroline is one of the best undergraduates that I have ever worked with in 20 years of being an independent academic. She is smart, driven, funny, creative, and a team player. She is beloved by my research group and she can hold her own with any current graduate student in terms of her research drive.” Caroline has been accepted into the chemistry PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley. We have no doubts whatsoever that Caroline will continue to be an outstanding student and researcher as she works towards her graduate degree.

Special thank you to Kirsten M. Arentzen, Undergraduate Administrator for the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University, for contributing the majority of the content for this article, for continuously supporting the student body, and encouraging the recognition of outstanding undergraduates. 

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Royal Society of Chemistry Highlights at ACS Boston

We look forward to attending the upcoming ACS National Meeting with colleagues traveling to Boston from both the DC and UK offices. We would love to meet you so please stop by Booth 2008 for conversations with the Editor from the flagship journal Chemical Science and others across the portfolio.  A great time to meet most of us is Sunday from 5:30-8:30PM when the Expo opens, or individually based on the schedule.

booth, stand, meet the editor, Royal Society of Chemistry, Richard Kelly, Richard Kidd, Laura Fisher, May Copsey, Chemical Science, Simon Neil, Adam Brownsell

 

In line with the conference theme of Nanoscience, Nanotechnology & Beyond, we’re launching the newest addition to our journal portfolio, Nanoscale Advances at the booth on Tuesday afternoon. This will be a nice opportunity to meet Associate Editors Shouheng Sun at Brown University, Benjamin Wiley at Duke University, Rongchao Jin at Carnegie Mellon University, and Elena Shevchenko at Argonne National Laboratory.

Nanoscale Advances,

We enjoy supporting opportunities for early career researchers with sponsored sessions throughout the meeting and corresponding web collections within the journals.

PMSE: PMSE Young Investigators’ Symposium

View additional content in the Polymer Chemistry Emerging Investigators, 2018 web collection.

Organized by Polymer Chemistry Associate Editor Emily Pentzer

Sunday, August 19th and Monday, August 20th from 8:30AM – 4:50PM

Commonwealth Ballroom B, Westin Boston Waterfront

ENVR: Showcasing Emerging Investigators: A Symposium by the RSC Environmental Science Journals

The symposium features work across the Environmental Science sister journals Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, Environmental Science: Nano, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. Read about the speakers on the blog post and view content from the Emerging Investigator Series for each journal.

Presided over by Editor-in-chiefs Kris McNeill (ESPI), Peter Vikesland (ES Nano), and David Cwiertny (ESWRT).

Monday, August 20th from 1:00 – 4:30PM

Room 259A, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

environmental science journals, ESPI, Environmental Science Processes & Impacts, ES Nano, Environmental Science Nano, ESWRT, Environmental Science Water Research & Technology

 

ORGN: Young Academic Investigator Symposium

Annually sponsored by Chemical Society Reviews and Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. Read the Chem Soc Rev 2018 Emerging Investigators and the OBC New Talent web collections.

Organized and Presided over by Chemical Society Reviews Associate Editor Huw Davies

Tuesday, August 21st from 8:20 – 11:55AM & 1:20 – 4:55PM

Room 253C, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center

 

We are pleased to support additional symposia throughout the meeting:

PHYS: Ultrafast Molecular Sciences by Femtosecond Photons & Electrons: Symposium in honor of Ahmed Zewail with support from Faraday Discussions, as detailed in the blog post.

INOR: Recent Advances in the Photochemistry & Photophysics of the P-Block Elements with support from Dalton Transactions in the form of Outstanding Poster Presentations.

 

If you plan the attend the ACS Meeting in Boston, we hope to meet you in person either at the booth or during the technical sessions!

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2019 Faraday Discussion on Ultrafast Photoinduced Energy and Charge Transfer in Ventura, CA – Submit an Abstract

Faraday Discussions: No Ordinary Conference

Faraday Discussion, Collaborative interaction, 5 min talk, 25 min discussionThe Faraday Discussion conference series are true to name. They honor Michael Faraday, who made seminal contributions to electrochemistry. Each conference has a scientific committee that invites world-class speakers on a key topic focused on physical chemistry and interfacing fields. The Discussions part of the name reflects the core emphasis of the meeting with a 5-minute talk from a speaker, followed by 25 minutes of discussion.

Interactive Discussions: Key Messages in 5 Minutes

It may sound challenging to highlight a research project in 5 minutes, but it’s possible since accepted speakers submit papers which are circulated to attendees in advance, with the expectation that attendees read all papers before arriving.

After the initial 5-minute talk, anyone can speak for up to 5 minutes. In the past, attendees have prepared comments, questions, and even short presentations of their own work to confirm or raise concerns about results.

Posters: Opportunity for Recognition

Attendees can also submit posters for consideration by the scientific committee. Once accepted, poster presenters can make contributions to the Discussion itself, including showing their own work if pertinent, and there are prizes to recognize exceptional work.

Faraday Discussions (The Journal): Keep the Conversation Going

Since not everyone can attend the meeting in person, the corresponding Faraday Discussions volume publishes all discussion remarks alongside the papers and poster title and abstracts. Updates and highlighted content can be found on the Faraday Discussions Blog.

2019 Faraday Discussion on Ultrafast Photoinduced Energy and Charge Transfer

ultrafast photoinduced energy, charge transfer, faraday discussion, april 2019, ventura, california, ca

Faraday Discussions are held all over the world, but the next meeting in the US takes place in Ventura in April 2019. The meeting broadly addresses critical challenges in ultrafast energy and charge transfer across four main themes:

  • energy and charge-transfer in natural photosynthesis
  • photovoltaics and bio-inspired light harvesting
  • photo-induced electron transfer
  • photo-protection/photo-damage in natural systems

The Committee organized the following distinguished speakers in the area, including Gordana Dukovic from University of Colorado Boulder, Advisory Board member for Sustainable Energy & Fuels; Greg Scholes from Princeton University, Advisory Board member for Materials Horizons and Chemical Science; and Emily Weiss from Northwestern University, Advisory Board member for Materials Horizons.

A Conversation with Committee Co-Chair, Professor Stephen Bradforth

We had a chance to hear from Committee Co-Chair Divisional Dean and Professor Stephen Bradforth, at University of Southern California, who shared his perspective.

What surprised you/was your favorite part about your first Faraday Discussion Meeting? What inspired you?

I attended my first Faraday Discussion at the University at Nottingham on the subject of Structure and Dynamics of Reactive Transition States.  For me, as a graduate student in Berkeley, it was a return to Britain after three scientifically rich years in California.  The format of the meeting was incredibly engaging.  Seeing names familiar from the literature as speakers wrestling with only 5 minutes to summarize their work! But immediately followed by an in-depth questioning and scholarly discussion of each speaker’s written paper that revealed what was fact, what was conjecture and what simply wasn’t known. It was invaluable for a student finding his feet in the field of physical chemistry.

Why did you decide to get involved and why do you think the topic of the meeting is timely?

I was persuaded by Mike Ashfold and Tom Oliver, with whom I had collaborated on two Faraday Discussion contributions over the years, that it was time to bring the Faraday Discussion to the west coast of the USA.  In fact, this is the first time an FD has been held west of Chicago, and about time too!  This meeting, on Photoinduced Charge and Energy Transfer, comes after a recent trans-disciplinary surge in activity to better understand solar energy conversion, both in natural photosynthetic systems and in man-made materials, spurred by the formidable energy challenge in front of us as a society.

“Attendees will gain a window on the array of contemporary advanced tools,
both experimental and theoretical, that are being developed to attack this scientific grand challenge”

–Committee Co-Chair Stephen Bradforth, Divisional Dean of Natural Sciences and
Professor of Chemistry at University of Southern California–

What do you hope prospective attendees will gain from the upcoming meeting?

The goal of the meeting is to bring together experts from several areas, spectroscopists, biophysicists, theoretical chemists, and materials scientists, to uncover the basic design principles for efficiently converting the energy delivered in a photon into useful chemical potential. And all while considering the potential photodamage to the molecular and nanoscale architectures employed.  FD attendees will gain a window on the array of contemporary advanced tools, both experimental and theoretical, that are being developed to attack this scientific grand challenge.

deadline, oral, abstract, poster, early, standard, registration

Welcoming You

The oral abstract deadline is approaching in July, but there is still time to submit either oral or poster abstracts. Monetary support in the form of travel grants of at least £200 are available for early-career RSC members (only £20 for students), within 10 years of completing their PhD or still students, as detailed in the bursary section of the website.

We hope you take advantage of the opportunity to share your ideas and connect with the community in a uniquely interactive meeting. Whether you’re a spectroscopist, biophysicist, computational or theoretical chemist, physicist, or a material scientist working in photo-induced biomolecular and nanoscale dynamics, join us for the first Faraday Discussion in California.

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SBQ-RSC: Celebrating UK-Brazil collaborations

   

Brazil has been the research centre of South America since the beginning of the 21st century and is responsible for more than 50% of chemistry papers published in Latin America. The Royal Society of Chemistry has been committed to fostering international collaborations for at least as long. Ties between UK and Brazilian researchers have become common, and it was a natural result to sign our first Memorandum of Understanding with the Brazilian Chemical Society (SBQ) in 2007, promoting and fostering collaborations. The MoU was renewed in 2012, and this May, the RSC and SBQ are signing an updated MoU that will incentivize UK and Brazilian researchers to participate in SBQ or RSC meetings, encourage inclusion and diversity and seek out joint third party activities.

In honour of this event, we have organized a special virtual issue highlighting collaborations between UK and Brazilian researchers. Articles from authors from 34 institutions in Brazil and 41 in the UK were selected, resulting in more than sixty articles on topics such as electroanalytical techniques, nanomaterials, catalysis, synthetic pathways and theoretical calculations, among others.

 

The close ties and friendship between the SBQ and the Royal Society of Chemistry has helped foster many scientific collaborations and has brought scientists together to promote and share knowledge and ideas. Some of the results of these collaborations are now showcased in this web collection and we are immensely proud that these researchers chose to publish their work in our journals.” said Emma Wilson, Director of Publishing, RSC

 

I’m very satisfied to renew the SBQ/RSC partnership signing a new Memorandum of Understanding during the SBQ Annual Meeting in Foz do Iguaçu, as an official activity of the UK-Brazil Year of Science and Innovation. To celebrate, the editors of both RSC journals portfolio and the Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society-JBCS decided to create themed issues. Each society selected scientific papers by authors from Brazil and UK. This is a great initiative, and the success is guaranteed. Congratulations to all the people engaged in actions to approximate SBQ and RSC much more, hence the Brazilian and the UK sciences. said Prof Aldo J G Zarbin, SBQ President

 

Our future collaborations include a themed issue in the Royal Society of Chemistry journals portfolio and the JBCS of selected scientific papers shared by authors from Brazil and UK. I am also very much looking forward to formally renewing our partnership and friendship by signing our Memorandum of Understanding –  a welcome commitment between our two countries to collaborate further in the future for the benefit of chemistry and humanity. said Professor Dominic Tildesley Past President, Royal Society of Chemistry

 

This themed issue will also celebrate the UK-BRAZIL Year of Science and Innovation 2018-2019, organized by the Science and Innovation Network Brazil (SIN). This initiative recognizes the significant increase in collaborations between the two countries and their resulting publications.

 

The UK-Brazil Year of Science & Innovation is a celebration of current and new world class collaborations in global challenges including in energy, climate, biodiversity, agriculture and health & linked to our Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Grand Challenge. I am thrilled that the Royal Society of Chemistry and Brazilian Chemical Society are a strong part of this Year said Dr Julia Knights, Director of Science & Innovation at the British Embassy in Brasilia. Check the provisional UK-BR YoS&I program here.

 

We invite you to browse the collection to see what’s been happening between Brazil and the UK since 2016.

 
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Chemistry Education: All Fun and Games

Besides publishing high-quality research from around the globe, the RSC’s activities support chemistry education and lifelong learning. During Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11) we celebrated the launch of Professional Development of Chemistry Teachers: Theory and Practice, the first book in the RSC Advances in Chemistry Education series. We reflected on all the educators who are making a difference for those studying chemical sciences and wanted to showcase one of the outstanding young educators we’ve met who are making an impact in the North America chemistry community.  At the 3rd annual University of California Chemical Symposium, Zachary Thammavongsy from the Yang Group at UC Irvine (UCI) won the coveted “Social Media Prize” for generating the most buzz around the meeting, but what really made Zach stand out was his game company, d-Orbital Games. Attendees like Chemical Science Deputy Editor, Jeremy Allen, had so much fun playing that they may not have even realized they were learning. Since many graduate students with a passion for teaching are often torn between their roles as a researcher and an educator, we caught up with Zach during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-11) to learn more about his accomplishments while in graduate school, what he has in store for the future, and what advice he would give to others who are inspired to teach. Zach, who won the 2017-2018 UCI Most Promising Future Faculty Award, has found a unique way to manage both research and teaching and even start his own business. Read on to learn more about Zach’s story and how teaching and learning really can can be fun and games.

Chemical Science Deputy Editor Jeremy Allen plays SeArCH with UC grad students and postdocs at the 3rd annual UCCS

“A game can be many things, but, at its core, a game is a defined set of parameters that allow a player or players to compete. This is a very structured answer, but these predefined parameters make games fun to play (either alone or against other players). A game should be fun, challenging, thought-provoking, foster a sense of competition, and ultimately provide a tangible way to accomplish one’s goals (winning). These concepts are easy to translate into simplified science topics. When playing a new game one must become familiar with the rules; I just make those rules simple to understand while teaching players about science!

“Growing up, I had amazing teachers. My source of inspiration for how to teach effectively has always been my high school teachers. They put maximum effort into their curriculum and I felt that they genuinely loved interacting with students. Now as a teaching assistant (TA), I take the same approach to teaching my lab sections and discussion courses. I don’t think I have a skill that others don’t possess in teaching, but I do believe I have the desire and the drive to pursue teaching as a career that I admire in other teachers. This is why I improve my teaching ability by taking advantage of the education classes offered at UC-Irvine and I attend teaching conferences. I am fascinated by the teaching techniques and learning strategies utilized in the subject of chemistry, and I hope to pursue conceptual learning as a research topic in the near future.

“I am a pedagogical fellow at UCI through the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI). The fellowship is highly competitive as it is open to every graduate student at UCI. I learned of the fellowship through a former pedagogical fellow in the chemistry department. I submitted a sixty minute video of my teaching, collected student evaluations and underwent a formal interview process. The fellowship provided invaluable opportunities, like taking a year-long seminar on teaching techniques with pedagogical fellows from other departments and leading a two-day teaching workshop to prepare incoming graduate students in  chemistry for teaching responsibilities. Preparation for the workshop was rigorous; I now fully appreciate the time commitment instructors invest into preparing lecture notes.

“Initially, I was apprehensive about revealing my  games to my advisor. I didn’t know how she would receive the news since research is a graduate student’s top priority.”

Zach’s company d-Orbital Games uses simple but clever games to teach chemistry concepts while making education fun.

“As a pedagogical fellow, I crafted a few chemistry flash cards with some paper, pen and scissors to make a simple game to play with my colleagues. The game was so popular with those who did not have a chemistry background, that I used it as the basis of the first d-Orbital game, SeArCH! I launched a Kickstarter soon after, where I converted the seed money from the funded campaign to make more science-based card games and built a brand! The name d-Orbital Games (dOG) was brainstormed one late night in lab with an undergraduate researcher, Wyeth Gibson. It was only fitting that as an inorganic chemist, the chemistry card game company would be named after the transition metal electron orbitals (d-orbitals). I also love the acronym “dOG” since I love dogs and my parents have a shiba inu – which is the company mascot featured in our logo wearing a lab coat and goggles.

Initially, I was apprehensive about revealing my games to my advisor. I didn’t know how she would receive the news since research is a graduate student’s top priority. I finally told my PI four months after launching the d-Orbital game website and she was absolutely supportive and encouraging. I am not quite sure why I initially felt that my PI would not be receptive to the idea, as she is a very supportive mentor to her students and their scientific goals, even if it isn’t strictly research. My PI has even retweeted things posted on d-Orbital game’s Twitter. If she is reading this, Jenny, you are the best!

“I wandered often while navigating my way into starting a company. I gathered the courage to approach all types of people, not just academics. I asked business owners who started their own companies and shared my business platform at entrepreneurial meet-ups sponsored through UCI. One of my biggest challenges was approaching domestic or international manufacturers to make my games for the lowest price. The best advice I received thus far is from Catherine Croft, Ph.D., the CEO of Catlilli Games, who advised me to submit my games to award shows and attend conferences to showcase d-Orbital Games. It is amazing how many doors open by starting a conversation with people you barely know. I was happy to receive such a warm welcome at UCCS. I went to the symposium unsure how chemistry graduate students from other UCs would react to d-Orbital Games. I had one of the best moments this year watching other graduate students take interest in the education games my team developed. Specifically, I enjoy seeing the smiles and laughter that “Slap Count” brought to the table when a collective group of graduate students were competing to show off their skills in counting d-electrons! The UCCS Chair, Andrea Coleman from UC-Davis, was the star player that night, by bringing the energy to the game table.

“It is amazing how many doors open by starting a conversation with people you barely know.”

My current team is made up of lab members and childhood friends who possess skills that are unique and vital to the success of d-Orbital Games. They provide critical feedback on every detail, allowing us to provide the most accurate and fun chemistry games. Also, it is nice working with your friends! They don’t hold back on their opinions and I appreciate that a lot. The game designers can be anyone on the team, but usually Bianca and Wyeth help come up with initial concepts and game mechanics. The two editors Kim and Brian are extremely critical of spelling and grammatical errors. Ali and Mike are hometown friends that have helped me get through some of the computing and business side of the company. They are a big help from far away. Fortunately, the game designers are my lab mates. I see them every day. Since we are all busy researching, we don’t normally set a schedule for designing games. The game design happens over at the pub or during our group bonding time. We choose a chemistry topic to tackle and share how certain game mechanics can be incorporated into highlighting a difficult chemistry concept. We try to simplify our games as much as possible, so that students can quickly pick up the game in a one-hour classroom setting. From there, I talk to my editing team about the overall look of the game. I make a lot of grammatical errors, and I am so lucky to have editors that can spot all of my mistakes. The most exciting game that my team is currently working on is a proton NMR game. We try to focus primarily on games that can be implemented in the college level classroom. The proton NMR game will be our first game with a gameboard! I even had students from my organic chemistry course play test the game several times. I am exciting to be presenting the results from the proton NMR game at this summer’s ACS Biennial Conference on Chemical Education! Please come check it out if you are attending the conference!

“I had one of the best moments this year watching other graduate students take interest in the education games my team developed.”

Zach Thammavongsy (right), founder of d-Orbital Games with Connor Easley (left), Chair of the next UCCS where Zach’s games will be featured during the 2019 meeting.

“I envision some universities giving d-Orbital Games a try, if not in their classroom then hopefully in their office hours. We hope our games will assist students in their chemistry learning. Eventually, we hope to tackle every topic in general, organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. We want teachers to be able to pull one of our games off the shelf and seamlessly incorporate them into their lesson plan. We can provide the tools and detail all the new techniques for an educator to be great, but if we don’t get educators to buy in to how teaching can be beneficial to them as much as it will be for the students then that is when students suffer. From my experience, the skills I think graduate students gain from teaching are improved communication skills and professionalism. Every day is a chance for graduate teaching assistants (TA) to practice these skills so that they can be perfected for job interviews or handling difficult workplace situations in the future. Not everyone has to have the passion for teaching, but if everyone knows the benefits from getting the opportunity to teach then perhaps we can start to improve the teaching mindset of our graduate TAs and many other educators.”

We were impressed by Zach’s story and hope it will inspire other young people who are passionate about teaching and the 2019 UCCS is planning to incorporate some of Zach’s games into the program for attendees to play. The biggest lesson that Zach has learned through this experience:

Continue through the tough times. Even when your ideas don’t work out the first, or second or third time – very similar to research – talk to as many people that are willing to listen and play your game and do what makes you happy.”

We appreciate Zach sharing his story with us and hope you join us in thanking all the teachers who are making a difference;  follow Zach & d-Orbital Games and the Yang Group on Twitter to keep up with the latest happenings in both teaching and research. Educators looking for additional teaching tools can explore Learn Chemistry, the RSCs educational resource and teacher support publishing program. In addition to the magazine Education in Chemistry which covers all areas of chemistry education, our peer-reviewed journal Chemical Education Research and Practice is free to access for all, thanks to sponsorship by the RSC’s Chemistry Education Division.

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Meet the Royal Society of Chemistry at ACS National Meetings

We always enjoy meeting new people and catching up with familiar faces at ACS National Meetings, most recently in New Orleans.  We packed our schedules with talks during the day, learning about the latest and exciting developments across the chemical sciences.  Many of us attended sessions related to the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water theme, which also aligns with the global challenges the RSC aims to support.

It was a good opportunity to congratulate Chemical Science Associate Editors Professors Kit Cummins and Mircea Dinca at MIT in person as they received ACS awards for their achievements.  Editor-in-chief Professor Daniel Nocera, Executive Editor Dr. May Copsey, and many other Chemical Science Board members discussed some exciting developments for our flagship journal – stay tuned for updates on the website and learn more about the Associate Editors!

Booth, ACS, RSC, Chemical Science, Environmental Science journals, New Orleans

Dr. May Copsey, Executive Editor for Chemical Science, Dr. Sam Keltie, Executive Editor for the Environmental Science journals, and Dr. Jenny Lee, Assistant Editorial Development Manager, meeting attendees at the RSC booth during opening night of the Expo.

While it’s challenging to keep up with the conference programming, we wanted to spend some time to meet conference attendees at the booth and organize separate gatherings.  Larger conferences are great since colleagues travel from our Cambridge, UK office.  The Meet the Editor event involving Executive Editor Dr. Sam Keltie and the Editor-in-chiefs for the three sister Environmental Science journals was a nice chance to talk about publishing, and to also continue the conversation with the environmental chemical sciences community during happy hour.

RSC, ACS, Environmental Science: Nano, Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, ESN, ESW, ESPI, Meet the Editor, Booth, Sam Keltie, New Orleans

Meet the Editor event with Dr. Sam Keltie, Executive Editor of the Environmental Science journals, Prof. Kris McNeill, Editor-in-chief of Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, Prof. Peter Vikesland, Editor-in-chief of Environmental Science: Nano, and Prof. David Cwiertny, Editor-in-chief of Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology.

We also were glad to connect with a few RSC Advances Associate Editors, Editorial Board member Professor James Batteas, and Executive Editor Dr. Andrew Shore where we discussed ideas to continue developing the latest Gold Open Access option within the RSC journals.  While these are only a few highlights of all the events we organized throughout the conference, we appreciated the many opportunities to hear everyone’s thoughts to guide our future activities.

RSC, ACS, RSC Members' Reception, New Orleans

RSC Members’ Reception with Dr. Guy Jones, Executive Editor for Data, pictured in the foreground.

We’d love to meet you at a future ACS National Meeting – you can usually catch most of us at the booth on the opening night of the Expo so we hope to see you soon!

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Science Connect: helping Brazilian scientists communicate their research

The British Council is an organization in the UK that promotes cultural relations and educational opportunities in countries around the world. Three years ago, the RSC began collaborating with them on their Researcher Connect program. Researcher Connect brings workshops on communication skills to universities around the world, including Brazil. For our part of the program, we conduct 1-day, science communication focused workshops, which we call Science Connect. If you think your university in Brazil might be interested, the British Council will be putting out a new call for Researcher Connect applications starting April 2 2018 here. We will be selecting a few institutions chosen for the main Researcher Connect 2018 program to also host an extra day for Science Connect.

This year, we held our Science Connect workshops at three universities: Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES), Universidade de Brasília (UnB) and Universidade de São Paulo (USP). We had students, postdocs and professors from not only chemistry departments, but also related fields such as materials science, molecular biology and environmental science.

First, Elizabeth Magalhaes from our São Paulo office gave a presentation about the publishing process, with tips from our Editors about all stages of the process, from submission to revision. She also covered best practices for reviewing articles and ethics. The participants told us they found it really useful with lots of tips and good advice on how the publishing process works from the Editors’ perspective.

presentation, publishing

Elizabeth Magalhaes presenting on how to publish at USP

Then, our first hands-on module started with students reading the text of an RSC Advances article from which we’d removed the title and abstract. After giving them some instruction on the essential components of abstracts and titles, we asked them to work in groups to first write an abstract for the article and then a title. Some of the students found this challenging because it was outside of their field, but many of their results included elements that could have improved the real abstract!

Students at UnB collaborate to write an abstract for the RSC Advances article.

The second module focused on communicating your research orally. We went over how important body language and manner of speaking can be. We looked at a real example and asked them to critique the speaker based on what they’d learned. The second half of this module focused on elevator pitches, which are generally unfamiliar to Brazilian researchers. With a worksheet as guidance, we walked them through the elements of a good pitch and asked them to take a stab at writing their own. Several of the students said they found this really useful because they hadn’t really sat down and thought about what they do and why it’s valuable to others.

And finally, and most fun, we looked at the elements of great poster design. We showed some real life examples and asked the students to point out the good and bad elements. We emphasized that communicating your science in a logical way is the most important aspect of posters – they don’t always have to follow the same format as a paper. We encouraged them to get creative (but not too creative!) in thinking about the best way to visually communicate their science. Then some brave students allowed us to look at their real posters for friendly critique.

Elizabeth Magalhaes shows students at UFES an example of a fabric poster.

We had a lot of great feedback from the attendees and really enjoyed helping them better communicate their research. “The partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry has flourished greatly over the past few years and, the feedback we got from universities’ representatives is nothing but really positive,” says Camila Almeida, Newton Fund Project Manager with the British Council. “We have now delivered eight Science Connect workshops in various Brazilian states, and we have observed an increasing interest from the institutions each year. We are very pleased with the results and looking forward to the forthcoming workshops in 2018!”

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The Royal Society of Chemistry Certificate of Excellence Returns for 2018

Last year we introduced the Royal Society of Chemistry Certificate of Excellence – an award program to recognize outstanding undergraduate students across the United States. The Certificate is our modern reinvention of the well-known Merck Index® Award, which we have been working to transform since the RSC took over publishing of the classic text a few years ago. In the inaugural cycle, we asked institutions to select exemplary students from their department who have shown special achievement in the chemical sciences. We awarded almost 100 Certificates to students like Nancy Song (pictured,center, with Department Chair and Van Zandt Williams, Jr. Class of ’65 Professor of Chemistry, Prof. Tom W. Muir, at left, and Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Robert P. L’Esperance,at right), who graduated with Highest Honors from Princeton University, where she did her thesis work with Chemical Science Associate Editor, Prof. Haw Yang.)

 

Nancy Song, (center) recipient of a 2017 Royal Society of Chemistry Certificate of Excellence, pictured with Department Chair and Van Zandt Williams, Jr. Class of ’65 Professor of Chemistry, Prof. Tom W. Muir (at left) and Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Robert P. L’Esperance (at right). Nancy graduated with Highest Honors from Princeton University, where she did her thesis work with Chemical Science Associate Editor, Prof. Haw Yang. Photo: Frank Wojciechowski

The students chose from one of two prize options – either a hard copy of the classic reference text, The Merck Index® now in its Fifteenth Edition or a 6-month digital subscription to Chemistry World magazine. Since its first publication in 1889, The Merck Index® has become an essential reference for all scholarly and professional chemists, biochemists, pharmacists and toxicologists, of interest to students, teachers, libraries, researchers, information professionals, solicitors, journalists and government agencies – it has been the leading source of information on chemical compounds for generations of scientists and professionals. Recognized as a badge of achievement and dedication on the bookshelves of chemists worldwide, this formidable title continues to serve as the symbol of an early scholarly and professional milestone. For many of these outstanding undergraduates, receiving the text represents the closing of one chapter in their education, and the beginning of the next phase of their scientific careers. 


 


This year, we’re happy to announce that the program will continue for 2018 and invitations to nominate exceptional undergraduates will be sent to select institutions at the beginning of February. We’re working to expand the program in the future and look forward to recognizing more deserving students. For any questions or comments about the Certificate of Excellence, contact us at americas-editorial@rsc.org.

*The name THE MERCK INDEX is owned by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A., and is licensed to The Royal Society of Chemistry for use in the U.S.A. and Canada.

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