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     I: Community Update
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Getting to Know: Graduate student Edzna Garcia
    II: Community News           
Alum is first Latin American to lead ACS journal
Women in Chemistry Inclusive Leadership Award
New faculty member Mikael Backlund
Department demographics update      
    III: Upcoming Events
Krannert Multimedia Exhibition
Blackness and Anti-Blackness in American Public Life
Hispanic Heritage Month Event
Alumni Career Panel: Chemistry and Beyond
NIH Webinar Series
    IV: Resources 
Q&A with author who studies equity in science
#BlackinChem breaks down barriers
Thinking twice about testing
Quick fixes won't stop sexual harassment in academia



About National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month begins every year on September 15 and continues through October 15, celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. That time period is significant because Sept. 15 is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

 Head shot of Edzna Garcia

Getting to know: Graduate student Edzna Garcia

Graduate student Edzna Garcia, an organic Ph.D. candidate in professor Steve Zimmerman's research group, immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old. She first began exploring science in middle school and discovered that chemistry was her calling in high school thanks to magnet education programs in her South Central Los Angeles community. Garcia shares her story of perseverance as a first-generation college student, who nearly gave up on her goal of attending a four-year university. And she also shares why it's important to her to always make others feel welcome and included.



 Head shot of Erick Carreira

Alum Erick Carreira becomes first Latin American to lead Journal of the American Chemical Society

Alumnus Erick Carreira (BS, '83) has been appointed the next editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the flagship publication of the ACS. Carreira’s appointment begins in 2021.

Born in Cuba and based in Switzerland, he will be the first JACS editor-in-chief to live outside of the U.S. and the first Latin American to lead the journal, according to the announcement. Carreira obtained his Bachelor of Science from Illinois Chemistry, where he was an undergraduate researcher in Professor Scott Denmark's group. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1990.

 Head shot of Alison Wallum
 Alison Wallum

Wallum wins Women in Chemistry Inclusive Leadership Award, Toru wins runner-up award 

Graduate student Alison Wallum won the 2020 Women in Chemistry Inclusive Leadership Award during the Women in Chemistry (WIC) Retreat on Aug. 22, 2020. A fourth-year graduate student, Wallum will receive an engraved award and $1,000 towards participation at conferences and meetings that promote women’s scientific and professional development in science.

The Women Chemists Committee (WCC) also sponsored the WIC Inclusive Leadership runner- up award, which was presented during the WIC retreat to Hannah Toru. A third-year physical chemistry graduate student, Toru will receive $500.

 Head shot of Mikael Backlund

New faculty member Mikael Backlund excited to devote more time to science 

Since arriving on campus in early August, the Department of Chemistry's newest faculty member, Mikael Backlund, has been settling into his new office space and research lab on the first floor of the Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory, where he will be building and developing advanced optical and opto-magnetic microscopy systems. The physical chemist did his postdoc work in a physics lab in the Division of Atomic and Molecular Physics at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and in the Department of Physics at Harvard University. And now that his job search is behind him, he is "looking forward to thinking, talking, and breathing science again."

 Picture of exterior of chemistry building on campus

Update: Incoming student demographics

Every year, the Department of Chemistry has the privilege of welcoming the next generation of Illini chemists. We continue to make strides with our graduate recruiting efforts as our underrepresented populations are up again this year from last year’s 14.7 percent to this year’s 18.9 percent.

Graduate students

Here’s a quick look at our newest class of Ph.D. students. We have 58 new graduate students; due to the pandemic, three additional students deferred the start of their program to 2021-2022.  Of the 58 enrolled this fall, 38 are men, 20 are women; 47 are domestic, and 11 are international students.

Undergraduate students

For our first-year freshmen, Class of 2024, we have 96 students overall. Of those, 51 are male and 45 female, 75 are domestic students, and 21 international.

University-wide enrollment

The University's 2020 enrollment this fall is 52,331, surpassing last year’s record of 51,196, which administration officials attribute to demand for UIUC online graduate programs.  The total number of graduate students increased to 17,802, up from a record of 16,319 last year. Forty-two percent of graduate students are enrolled in fully online programs. An additional 2,025 new graduate students elected to delay admission to a later term, compared with around 300 in a typical year.

Enrollments more diverse

This year’s graduate student cohort also is more diverse. New enrollment of populations underrepresented in graduate education increased by 36 percent in the past year, with notable increases in African American and Latinx graduate students. The undergraduate population at Illinois also continues to become more diverse, with an increase in African American and Latinx undergraduate students.

Read more about university enrollment numbers for this academic year.




Black girls create a space of their own in Krannert multimedia exhibition

Aug. 27-July 3

A new Krannert Art Museum exhibition that opened Aug. 27 examines what it means to create space for Black girls and women to celebrate their creative lives. "Homemade, With Love: More Living Room" is a multimedia exhibition of collage, photography, sound, and interior design. The exhibition continues through July 3.

Blackness and Anti-Blackness in American Public Life 

3-4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 

As colleges and universities across America begin to grapple with some of the wider-ranging and material effects of racism, particularly anti-Blackness, three scholars—Lisa M. Corrigan, Alfred L. Martin, Jr., and Anjali Vats— will hold a joint book talk to chart cultural histories of Blackness through law, politics, and media. This event is co-sponsored by the Institute of Communications Research and Department of Communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

La Casa Cultural Latina at UIUC hosts Hispanic Heritage Month event 

5 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Sept. 30

Join La Casa for an evening with Elizabeth Acevedo, an Afro-Dominican performer, National Poetry Slam Champion, and the author of New York Times best-selling novel, The Poet X, which won the 2018 National Book Award. La Casa at UIUC is hosting in conjunction with Purdue University Latino Cultural Center and La Casa at Indiana University. Please register for this free event.

Alumni Career Panel: Chemistry and Beyond 

2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2

Hear Chemistry at Illinois alumni discuss their experience and careers in fragrance, project management, energy, and academia. Registration is required for this virtual event. Panelists: Tripta Holtz (BS, '10) Yantao Hughes (Ph.D., '03, van der Donk) Mark Pytosh (BS, '86) Olaseni Sode (Ph.D., '12, Hirata).

National Institutes of Health Webinar Series

The NIH is offering a series of webinars and small group discussions focused on helping undergraduate students, postbacs, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the sciences develop the resilience needed to thrive in high-knowledge environments. Register for the webinars using the links below or visit the website https://www.training.nih.gov, and check upcoming events.

Sept. 15: Part I: An Introduction to Resilience and Wellness

Oct. 13:  Part II: Understanding Cognitive Distortions, Imposter Fears and Stereotype Threat

Nov. 10: Part III: Emotions and Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Dec. 8:  Part IV: Self-Advocacy and Assertiveness for Scientists

Jan. 12: Part V: Developing Feedback Resilience

Feb. 9: Part VI: Managing Up to Maximize Mentoring Relationships




Q&A with book author who addresses equity in science

Inside Higher Ed recently interviewed Julie R. Posselt, associate professor of higher education at the University of Southern California, who has written the book, “Equity in Science: Representation, Culture, and the Dynamics of Change in Graduate Education.” According to Inside Higher Ed, Posselt challenges the belief that science is a meritocracy, finds patterns of bias as well as numerous efforts to improve and diversify science. Read more

#BlackinChem breaks down barriers

Chemical & Engineering News article talks about the #BlackinChem social media campaign that was August 10-15 and how it inspired hundreds of Black chemists to celebrate their research and participate in discipline-themed discussions ranging from favorite analytical techniques to favorite transition metals. Read more  

"Thinking Twice About Testing"

Inside Higher Ed reports that the National Association for College Admission Counseling issued a new report showing that many colleges have gone test-optional in admissions this year. The report does not state definitively that colleges shouldn't require a test, but it says that the assumptions of colleges when they adopted testing requirements may no longer be true. Read more

Quick fixes won't stop sexual harassment in academia, experts say

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy and her colleagues were authors of a 2018 report on the sexual harassment of women in academia published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and in a new opinion, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they focus on behaviors that communicate derision, disgust or disrespect for members of one sex or gender group, calling for institutions of higher education to directly address those responsible for hostile work environments many women face in academia. Read more