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MAY 2019    

2019 May Chemistry Convocation
2019 May Chemistry Convocation


            I: Community Updates
            May was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
            Diversity and Climate Action Plan
            Graduate Student Awards
            Faculty Leadership and Management Training
            II: Community News           
                   A Welcome Change in the Inorganic & Materials Area
                   Making Safety a Priority in Research
                   Dr. Munjanja receives the Commitment to Students Award
            III: Upcoming Events
                   Summer Wellness Lecture Series
                   Other Events
            IV: Resources Corner
                   Free Summer Yoga at the Spurlock Museum




Summer is here! I hope many of you are looking forward to family vacations. I wish you the best in all your adventures this summer. 

May was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, during which we celebrate one of our own alumnae, Dr. Marinda Li Wu, who received her PhD in inorganic chemistry in 1976 under the direction of Professor Russell Drago. She was the second woman to join Professor Drago's research group. She has worked for more than 30 years at Dow Chemical Company. Dr. Wu was the 2013 ACS president, the first Asian-American to do so. To learn more about Dr. Wu's contributions, please Read More


(i) CHEM 590c 

CHEM 590c - Advanced Professional Development for Chemists, is a series of five workshops that provides training opportunities for students. The main topics in the workshops were identified in the LAS climate surveys and interviews conducted last summer. The course is designed to support graduate students in the three domains of lab culture:

(1) science (research excellence & rigor),
(2) environment (shared spaces & responsibilities) and
(3) relationships & interactions (respect, pyschological safety, collaboration)

Please see the syllabus below. If you are interested in attending any of the workshops, please email Dr. Lloyd Munjanja: munjanja@illinois.edu.

(ii) St. Elmo Brady Summer Research Fellowship

In an effort to diversify our research program, the department has been exploring ways to partner with the chemistry departments that Illinois alumnus St. Elmo Brady (first African-American PhD chemist in the U.S.) created at four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Tougaloo College, Howard University, Fisk University and Tuskgee University.

Our first fellow for the program, Enleyona Weir, from Tougaloo College, Mississippi, will be conducting her summer research in Prof. Hergenrother's group. 


(i) Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology Graduate Fellowship: Lucas Akin, PhD student in the Chan group, was one of seven graduate students who were chosen to receive the 2019 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowship. The program offers University of Illinois graduate students at the MA, MS, or PhD level the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research at the institute. Read more

(ii) Women Chemistry Committee Award: Aastha Sharma (Vura-Weis group) was selected to receive the 2019 Women Chemistry Committee Award.

(iii) Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship: Philip Kocheril (Zimmerman group) was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years in recognition of his potential to contribute to the advancement of research in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering. Read more

(iv) TechnipFMC Fellowship: Joe Nugent (Fout Group), whose research focusing on dehydrogenation chemistry using cobalt pincer complexes, was selected to receive a TechnipFMC Fellowship for 2019-20. Nugent studies organometallic chemistry and would like to obtain a job in either the chemical industry or in technical consulting after receiving his PhD. Read more


This semester, our faculty have committed to attend at least one faculty leadership and management training, as part of a series of inclusive workshops through the Beckman Institute. This summer, we have faculty attending the Wellness Lecture Series put together by the Wellness Coalition. The mission of the Wellness Coalition is to support graduate students and postdoctoral scientists at Illinois Chemistry in minimizing and mitigating the undue stress surrounding research.





Story by Aastha Sharma (Josh Vura-Weis Research Group)

The inorganic and materials chemistry divisions of the department have rescheduled the weekly seminar time to 3:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 PM. Prof. Cathy Murphy, head of the materials chemistry division, highlighted that "the decision was taken unanimously in favor of instantaneously." She pointed out that the time change is a win-win situation for both the attendees and speakers. Professors, post-doctoral scholars, and graduate students with young children or aging parents can stay throughout the seminar, and speakers will have enough time to relax before dinner." To be successful, we should rethink and revisit administrative barriers to success, and this decision is a nice example of how a minor change can bring about improvements in our department," she said. Agreeing with Prof. Murphy, Prof. Josh Vura-Weis applauded the decision and responded, "It is a great example of the removal of systemic barriers to making the workplace more inclusive." Prof. Vura-Weis, who has two young kids, said that the time change "takes away big stress about not missing the end of the talk and picking up kids on time." Prof. Martin Gruebele, head of the department, is also highly appreciative of the time change and commended the inorganic and materials divisions for their exemplary effort in advancing inclusive access to information.



Story by Marina Philip (Sweedler Research Group)

During the week of May 13th– May 17th, the Department of Chemistry Joint Safety Team (JST) and Department of Chemistry Graduate Student Advisory Committee (DCGSAC) co-hosted the 3rd Annual Safety Week. Safety Week focuses (unsurprisingly) on safety: emphasizing its importance in the laboratory, educating the department on current safety practices and policies, and presenting new and interesting perspectives on safety that everyone may not be familiar with or think about daily. This year’s event kicked off with Suggest and Digest, an opportunity for graduate students to mingle over refreshments and provide input on safety within the department. A presentation by Jeremy Leevy from the Urbana Fire Department and Brian Meschewski from the Division of Research Safety (DRS) followed. They talked about fire safety and emergencies in laboratories, using case studies from around campus. Other events throughout the week included an alumni presentation by Dr. Kevin Howard (PhD, ‘88, Rauchfuss) titled “Conducting Research and Development Safely EVERY DAY of Your Professional Career” and field trips to the DRS waste facility. Safety Week wrapped up that Friday with a BBQ hosted by DCGSAC, a vendor show, and fire extinguisher training from Urbana Fire.

JST also rolled out a new initiative during Safety Week: Safe Operation Cards (SOCs). SOCs are designed to inform other lab personnel and visitors what reaction/processes are happening in a specific area of the lab (such as at the hood or bench) and the hazards that are associated with the reaction/processes. The SOCs allow researchers to include all the hazards related to their experiments so that fellow lab mates and any visitors are aware of risks present, and are informed in case of emergencies or unexpected shutdowns. More information about and templates to print out SOCs, get them laminated, and update them as needed are on the JST website: https://publish.illinois.edu/chemistryjointsafetyteam/.

Check out the JST website for more information about JST, safety resources, past events JST has hosted, and how to get involved. You can also like and follow JST on Facebook (JST Facebook) and Twitter (@UiucJ). 



Dr. Lloyd Munjanja, assistant director of graduate diversity and program climate, recently received the Commitment to Students Award at the Ebony Excellence Awards Ceremony on April 29, 2019. The Ebony Excellence Awards is an annual awards program under the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center which provides an opportunity for students, student organizations, faculty, staff, and campus departments to be recognized for the outstanding work that they do on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Read more





  • Establishing Conflict Resolution Protocols 
    Morris Mosley, LCSW, University of Illinois
    Thursday, June 13, 2019, 4:00 p.m, 1024 Chemistry Annex

  • PM State of Mind: Tips, Tricks, Gotchas and Hard-learned Lessons from Chemist Turned Project Manager
    Dr. Sam Horvath, Project Manager, Pixo
    Thursday, June 27, 2019, 4:00 p.m, 1024 Chemistry Annex

  • Communicating and Implementing Effective Laboratory Wellness Policies
    Dr. Jen Heemstra, Associate Professor, Emory University Department of Chemistry

    Thursday, July 25, 2019, 4:00 p.m, B102 Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory


  • Talk: "Twenty Whites & One 'Other'": St. Elmo Brady, First African-American PhD in Chemistry
    Jameatris Yvette Rimkus, Archives Program Officer, University of Illinois Archives 

    Thursday, June 20, 2019, 4:00 p.m., Spurlock Museum, 600 S Gregory St, Urbana






Fridays, May 3 - August 23, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Krannert Art Museum (KAM)

KAM hosts a one-hour lunchtime yoga series on Fridays during the summer. Each Summer Yoga at the Museum session is free and open to the public. Classes introduce participants to the fundamentals of hatha yoga: seated and standing asanas (poses), breath awareness, and relaxation techniques. Participants should bring their own yoga mats and wear comfortable clothing. Classes are limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first-serve basis. https://kam.illinois.edu/event/summer-yoga-museum-0