From the Ground Up: Founding the Chemistry Graduate Student Association
20 September 2016
The experimental method begins with observation. As scientists, this type of thinking is ingrained in us. So when two graduate students, Inanllely Gonzalez and Susan Butch, observed opportunities for improvement within the department, they set out to test the hypothesis that they could make a positive change in the lives of Chemistry graduate students. In early 2015, with the help and support of Dr. Ray Schaak, former Graduate Program Manager Jaclyn Stimely, and former Department Head Dr. Barbara Garrison, the Chemistry Graduate Student Association (GSA) was established. The inaugural executive board completed by Sean McCarthy, Juan Callejas, Patrick Corrigan, and Roderico Acevedo came together to define and accomplish the GSA’s core missions:
1) To provide opportunities for professional development and outreach. The GSA launched a professional development seminar series tailored specifically to the needs of Chemistry graduate students. In addition, they have partnered with local outreach organizations to engage and inspire a future generation of chemists.
2) To foster a sense of community within the department. The GSA encourages graduate students to get to know each other and expand their network through events such as picnics, coffee hours, and intramural sports games.
3) To facilitate the recruitment and retention of Chemistry graduate students. The GSA, in collaboration with the graduate office, instituted a first-year mentoring program to help incoming students navigate the challenges faced during their transition to graduate school. The GSA also assists in planning events and recruiting volunteers for the annual open house recruitment event.
Today, the GSA executive board includes Inanllely Gonzalez, Patrick Corrigan, Kate Lebold, Erica Frankel, Michael Coco, Jimmy Morse, and Jamie Bingaman, as well as advisers Dr. Scott Showalter and Graduate Program Manager Hilary Dellapenta. The executive board, together with support from Department Head Dr. Tom Mallouk and over 100 additional active members, continues to carry out the GSA’s core missions by initiating events and programs to benefit Chemistry graduate students.