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Chemistry students earn 14th straight Outstanding Chapter Award

Chemistry students perform a demonstration in White Hall during the annual Fire and Light Demonstrations. (Photo by Zac Calvert)
Chemistry students perform a demonstration in White Hall during the annual Fire and Light Demonstrations. (Photo by Zac Calvert)

JACKSON, Tenn.Dec. 10, 2012 – For the 14th year in a row, Union’s Student Members of the American Chemical Society received the Outstanding Chapter Award from the nation’s leading chemistry society for their 2011-2012 school year activities.

One of the chapter’s main events during the year was helping with a prescription drug take-back event the Jackson Police Department and Union’s School of Pharmacy hosted. SMACS students invited the general public to return out-of-date prescription drugs to the police department for proper disposal.

After the event, the chemistry students distributed information about safe ways to dispose of old prescription medications at home to people from the community.

SMACS students also hosted their annual Fire and Light Demonstrations, an event in which they partner with physics students to perform a stream of demonstrations that produce bright lights and loud explosions. The demonstration is the student finale to presentations and events celebrating Chemistry Week each October.

Student presentations to other SMACS members about a Green Chemistry Labs Manual earned Union SMACS the Green Student Chapter Award from the ACS for the 2011-2012 school year. Sally Henrie, professor of chemistry, led the development of the laboratory manuals for high school students taking introductory chemistry courses.

Kathy Shelnut, SMACS president and senior chemistry major, said the group consists of biology and nursing majors, in addition to chemistry majors.

“The environment at the SMACS meetings is very jovial and busy at the same time,” Shelnut said. “Many are glad to see their friends that may not be in the same classes as them, such as upperclassmen seeing underclassmen and vice versa. No matter the year of the people in SMACS and those that are involved in the chemistry department, many of us are close.”

Professors are key in creating the chemistry department community, Shelnut said.

“The professors are there for you if you need them,” she said. “It takes a lot for a person not to be able to find a chemistry professor in their office. They want you to come to their office and ask them questions about a test or just the class in general.”

The professors sometimes join in the social events, Shelnut said. When SMACS students went bowling, their professors went, too.

Shelnut said her main goal for SMACS is two-fold: that students will learn that chemistry is fun and that they can use science to help others in their community.

By Samantha Adams (’13)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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