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    I: Community Updates
National Human Rights Month
UIUC Annual Celebration of Diversity
University Native American Imagery plan
    II: Community News
Graduate program applicants
Tabitha Miller's next stop
Omar Alshangiti a Rhodes Scholar
Get to know: Amanda East
Virtual "Bonding with Chemistry" Day Camp
LAS Strategic Plan: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    III: Upcoming Events
Trivia Night
    IV: Resources
C&EN Grad Student Survival Guide
Black Auburn University alumni want change
Study: Gender bias in the evaluation of TAs



Recover Better: Stand Up for Human Rights

Human Rights Day is observed every year on Dec. 10 — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights to which everyone is entitled as a human being - regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Article 26 proclaims the right everyone has to education. And Article 27 states "everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."

This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion, and discrimination. Read about the women who shaped the UDHR.

 35th Annual Celebration of Diversity logo overlaying an aerial photo of UIUC campus

UIUC Annual Celebration of Diversity

The Annual Celebration of Diversity brings together university and local community members to showcase all university diversity efforts and acknowledge college and individual contributions to realizing the goal of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This year’s celebration is a virtual video event honoring faculty and staff from across the campus community.

 A picture of the quad on the UIUC campus.
 Photo by Fred Zwicky

University releases Native American imagery implementation plan

On Dec. 4, 2020, Chancellor Robert Jones released an implementation plan to address Native American imagery issues, drawing upon input from the communitywide discussion that was initiated by him in 2018. The plan outlines several actions to take place in the next three years:

  • Students enrolled as citizens of any federally recognized tribal nation may attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign at the same tuition rate as in-state students.
  • The university will strengthen its partnership with the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma while also developing new relationships with other Native American nations who called Illinois home.
  • The university will explore permanent structures to acknowledge and represent Peoria and other Native American nations.
  • The university’s Native American collection will be repatriated to tribal communities and lineal descendants. Related to that action, the university has hired its first Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act program officer.
  • A campus historian is developing an accurate and thorough history of the campus’s use of Native American symbols and imagery.
  • Additional faculty members will be hired for the American Indian Studies program, as well as a liaison to Native American organizations and tribes.
  • A new student council co-led by Student Affairs, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the Alumni Association will develop new traditions with members of the student body.

The chancellor’s website will provide updates on the implementation plan progress.



 Picture of the word "Chemistry" on the front of a building on the UIUC campus

More than 500 prospective students apply to the graduate school program

The Department of Chemistry's application deadline for the Ph.D. program for Fall 2021 was Dec. 1, 2020, and a total of 508 prospective students applied, according to our department's graduate admissions office.  Here's a break down of those applicants:

  • Female applicants: 201 (40 percent)
  • Male applicants: 307 (60 percent)
  • Domestic applicants: 355 (70 percent)
  • International applicants: 153 (30 percent)
  • Underrepresented minority applicants: 66 (13 percent)
 Tabitha Miller in a gray sweatshirt sitting on an adult-sized tricycle inside an Argonne National lab building

Tabitha Miller's next stop: Argonne National Laboratory 

As she nears completion of her Ph.D. early in the New Year, Tabitha Miller will soon be transitioning from conducting research on small molecule activation using non-heme iron complexes in professor Alison Fout's lab to her postdoctoral work on energy research and sustainability projects at Argonne National Laboratory.

As part of Fout's group, Miller has already logged some research experience at Argonne and some time on the facility's tricycles, a popular mode of transportation at the government site.

 Head shot of Omar Alshangiti

Undergraduate researcher Omar Alshangiti awarded Rhodes Scholarship

After graduation, senior Omar Alshangiti will continue his academic career at the University of Oxford in England following his selection as a Rhodes Scholar.

A double major in chemistry and materials science and engineering, Alshangiti is a research assistant at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in professor Jeffrey Moore's lab. His passion for science evolved in high school when he took part in the International Chemistry Olympiad, winning the first silver medal for Saudi Arabia.

 Photo of Amanda East in the lab wearing a blue lab coat and blue gloves

Getting to Know: Graduate student Amanda East

Amanda East is a Ph.D. student in chemistry who works in the Chan Lab with chemistry Professor Jefferson Chan and in the Liang Research Group with Professor Zhi-Pei Liang. In May 2020, East was one of seven University of Illinois graduate students named 2020 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows.
In a recent profile, Amanda shares what's been her hardest adjustment during the pandemic, what's been a hidden benefit, and what she enjoys doing outside the lab.
 Computer screen shot of a Zoom conference showing graduate student Belinda Pacheco leading two middle school students in an experiment

WCC goes virtual for "Bonding with Chemistry" Day Camp

Despite the limitations of doing an interactive event virtually, more than a dozen Illinois chemistry graduate student volunteers committed this fall to adapt the "Bonding with Chemistry" Day Camp for Girls to a virtual event on Dec. 5, 2020. Through a live Zoom platform, they successfully demonstrated “The Flaming Color of Fireworks” for 32 Champaign and Urbana middle school students and also led them through each step of three additional chemistry experiments in an all-virtual edition of this annual event that's organized and sponsored by the ACS East Central Illinois Women Chemists Committee.

 Head shot of a UIUC student talking to another person.

A Major Goal of LAS Strategic Plan: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences recently released a strategic plan for 2021-2025. This plan will serve as a roadmap for college leadership, faculty, staff, and others. One of the major goals is a commitment "to promote the access and inclusion of underrepresented faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students in research, creative and instructional activity, and education." Read more about this commitment and the three objectives within the overall goal of fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion.


 Graphic with a black background and yellow, gray and white block letters spelling out Trivia Night

Department of Chemistry Virtual Trivia Night

Saturday, Dec. 19, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

All Department of Chemistry graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty plus their families are invited to participate in a Zoom trivia night with four rounds of 10 questions (and only one round will be chemistry-specific questions). Put together a team of up to six players and have your team captain sign up at https://forms.gle/DGiqnQWp9gJCAWxC6 by 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18 with your team name (be creative) and the email addresses of all who will need Zoom invites. Teams need not be in the same household to play together. Zoom invites will be sent by noon on the day of the game. Players will be asked to sign on to Zoom by 7:15 p.m. the night of the game so that team breakout rooms can be set up. If you'd like to watch the game without participating on a team, send your email to julie@culockdowntrivia.org by 5 p.m. on Dec. 18.




C&EN offers a "Grad Student Survival Guide"

Chemical & Engineering News has launched an eight-week "Grad Student Survival Guide" that students can subscribe to receive. According to C&EN, the guide will help you navigate the toughest chemistry grad school challenges. Read more

Black Auburn University alumni advocate for change

Auburn University has come under fire for its diversity and inclusion -- or lack thereof --and now its alumni are fighting for real change. Read more

Study finds gender bias in evaluations of TAs

Students’ biases about gender and other factors have been shown to affect their evaluation of their professors' teaching, so what about teaching assistants, who aren’t quite faculty, but whose instruction is still often rated by the students with whom they interact? This article explores whether the same biases show up. Read more