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Click here to see this online
 
 
 

   FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE  

 
   
 
 
    I: Community News
Profile of Alumnus Nicholas Ndiege
Sharing stories of Black scientists
Q&A: Alumnus H.N. Cheng
Science lab accessibility issues
NOBCChE Black History Month Event
We CU Community Engaged Scholars                 
                 
    II: Upcoming Events
NOBCChE Black History Month Event
LAS Staff and Academic Professional Award
Food for Thought, Asian American Cultural Center
Arts as Activism: Conversation with Nikki Giovanni
South Asian American Leadership Conference
 
    III: Resources
Women, URM students in chem grad schools
Black History Month documentaries
C&EN Graduate Student Survival Guide
 
           
 
   
 


COMMUNITY news

 
   
 
 Head shot of alumnus Nicholas Ndiege
 

Alum Nicholas Ndiege leads production of Abbott's latest heart pump device 

A senior manufacturing engineer at Abbot, Illinois chemistry alumnus Nicholas Ndiege (Ph.D.,  '08, Shannon, Masel) is responsible for manufacturing engineering activities related to the production of the company’s HeartMate 3 LVAD (left ventricular assist device).

“Solving problems is the most exciting part of what I do,” Ndiege said in an interview for an alumni profile.

In 2017, the HeartMate 3 received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for short-term use in patients awaiting heart transplants, and in 2018, the FDA approved the device for long-term use in patients who are not candidates for heart transplants.

 
   
 
 Head shot of Sibrina Collins
 

Dr. Sibrina Collins: Sharing stories of distinguished Black scientists

"As she worked her way through college and graduate school in the 1990s, Sibrina Collins was struck by what was missing in her chemistry education: people who looked like her. A young Black woman, fascinated by inorganic chemistry, and all the faces and names in her textbooks were White.

After getting her Ph.D., Collins told herself that when she became a professor, she would change that. So, while teaching first-year students at the College of Wooster about bonds, valences, and the myriad other introductory chemistry topics, she peppered in stories of chemists like the ingenious Alice Ball, the fruitful Percy Julian, and the groundbreaking St. Elmo Brady. Chemists who looked like her. Chemists who were rarely mentioned in textbooks."

Collins, who is now the executive director of the Marburger STEM Center at Lawrence Technological University, says that beyond broadening students’ horizons, sharing the stories of these distinguished Black scientists helps level the playing field and helps right a far-too-entrenched wrong of disregarding Black achievement in chemistry or even omitting it from the field’s history.

Her comments preface a list of noteworthy chemists in honor of Black History Month, which C&EN first published in February 2019. The list includes Illinois chemistry's, St. Elmo Brady

Collins will be the keynote speaker on the second day (Feb. 20) of the UIUC NOBCChE 2021 Black History Month Conference.

 
   
 
 Head shot of alumnus H.N. Cheng
 

C&EN profile: Alumnus H.N. Cheng, American Chemical Society president

Chemistry at Illinois alumnus H.N. Cheng (Ph.D., '74, Gutowsky) is the president of the American Chemical Society for 2021. He was recently featured on the cover of the Jan. 4, 2021, issue of C&EN. In the Q&A profile, he discusses many topics, including diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect.

"For ACS to succeed today and in the future, I believe we need to take actions to realize our core value of diversity and boost our efforts to recruit and retain diverse members and volunteers for ACS. Moreover, studies have shown that diversity and inclusion in the workplace improve organizational performance, stimulate innovation and problem solving, and enhance collaboration. In our increasingly global environment, diversity also promotes cultural understanding and cooperation," Cheng says in the article.  

A research chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Cheng was elected in October as the 2020 ACS president-elect by the membership.

 
   
 
 Beckman Institute researcher Joey Ramp kneels next to her service dog
 
 
   
 
 Event flyer with details of the NOBCChE Black History Month event
 

NOBCChE Black History Month event: Speakers, research, panel discussions

The UIUC chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers is hosting its two-day virtual conference this weekend, Feb. 19-20. Students in Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering departments have organized the event to celebrate Black History Month.

This conference is free and open to the public. It features research presentations, panel discussions, and two keynote speakers, Professor Tyrone B. Hayes, an integrative biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Sibrina N. Collins, executive director of the Marburger STEM Center. More information.

 
   
 
 Orange and blue graphic with the words, "Spring 2021 We CU"
 

We CU Community-Engaged Scholars empowers students through service

The We CU Community Engaged Scholars Initiative offers support, training, and recognition to grads and undergrads who complete 20 hours of service per semester. Track the service hours you are already doing through your academic or extracurricular activities, choose from a variety of available virtual opportunities, or develop a project that addresses a community need.

View a half-hour recorded information session to learn how to get started. Sign up by Friday, February 26.

 
   
 


UPCOMING events

 
   
 

NOBCChE's 2021 Black History Month Conference

5 p.m. CST, Feb. 19; and 9 a.m. CST, Feb. 20, virtual event

Join UIUC's NOBCChE chapter in honor of Black History Month for this two-day conference with keynote speakers on both days as well as research presentations and panel discussions on a wide range of topics. More info

LAS Staff and Academic Professional Awards

3:30 p.m. CST, March 2, via Zoom

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois cordially invites you to attend this award ceremony recognizing recipients of LAS Academic Professional Awards and Staff Awards. Congratulations to the Department of Chemistry's Serenity Desmond, who will be receiving an Academic Professional Award. Please RSVP online.

Food for Thought, Asian American Cultural Center

12 p.m. CST, every Tuesday through Spring semester, virtual

Food for Thought, part of the UIUC Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relation's Lunch on Us series, is a weekly noontime discussion focused on topics relevant to the Asian American community. Past discussions include topics such as nutrition, mental health, sexual health, and media representation of Asian Americans. More info

Arts as Activism: A Conversation with Nikki Giovanni

5-6 p.m. Feb. 23, 2021, a virtual event

An African American Cultural Center event, featuring Nikki Giovanni, a world-renown poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Hosted by Bruce D. Nesbitt, African American Cultural Center, University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign; African American Cultural Center, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Diversity Center, University of Illinois at Springfield. More info

South Asian American Leadership Conference

March 1 - March 4, virtual workshops

The Asian American Cultural Center is hosting its 2nd annual South Asian American Leadership Conference virtually from Monday, March 1 to Thursday, March 4, 2021. The SAALC was created to educate and empower students to network and develop relations among South Asian students to foster unity, strengthen the community, provide opportunities for leadership development, and offer safe spaces to talk about the issues and challenges South Asian American students face. The conference is free for all UIUC students. More info

 
   
 


INCLUSIVE EXCELLENCE resources

 
   
 

Supporting women, URM students in chemistry grad schools  

A C&EN article discusses how women and students from underrepresented groups feel less supported in chemistry graduate school in the United States. The analysis shows relationships with advisers and peers, financial hardship, faculty of color, and prestige of institution all impact the outlook of graduate students from disadvantaged groups.

Black history documentaries

"Twenty Whites & One 'Other'"
In 1916, St. Elmo Brady became the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States, graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This award-winning UIUC documentary tells his story. 

"Forgotten Genius"
Against all odds, African-American chemist Percy Julian became one of the great scientists of the 20th century. This PBS documentary tells his story.

C&EN: Graduate Student Survival Guide

C&EN’s eight-week guide helps graduate students navigate the toughest chemistry grad school challenges. Subscribe for essential advice from your peers on how to build stronger interpersonal relationships, improve how you communicate your science, manage self-doubt, embrace who you are, and much more. It comes in your e-mail every Thursday.

 
 
 
 
 

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