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Students and faculty connect at national chemistry meeting

JACKSON, Tenn.April 21, 2002 – Fourteen Union University students and faculty recently attended the 223rd American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Orlando, Fla. to listen to conferences and present their research.

“This is the premier meeting for chemistry professionals in the United States,” said Charles Baldwin, Hammons University Professor of Pre-Medical Sciences at Union. “This meeting gives students and faculty the chance to hear presentations by the bright lights in chemistry, often including the contributions of Nobel laureates.”

While at the conference, students and faculty had the opportunity to attend lectures given by chemistry professionals in a variety of fields representing the newest advances and discoveries in chemistry. Students also presented their own chemistry research that they have worked on this year under the mentor relationship of Union professors. All the professors in the department agree that seeing their students present their work was one of the week’s highlights.

“The students did a fantastic job representing themselves and representing Union,” said Baldwin.

Though the participants always look forward to the trip, this year had a special reason for additional excitement. Union’s chapter of the Student Affiliates of the

American Chemical Society (SAACS) was recognized as an outstanding chapter for the third year in a row. They also received special attention for their work during National Chemistry Week last fall, an honor given to only twenty chapters across the United States.

Students and faculty had time to enjoy each other’s company during the week as well, at meetings and during a special dinner.

“It was a great opportunity for everyone to see each other outside of the classrooms,” said Michael Salazar, assistant professor of chemistry. This was Salazar’s first conference with the students.

“You get to see everyone’s values functioning in the real world,” added Baldwin. “At these conferences, students are representing Union, but most importantly, we’re reflecting the Lord.”

Along with the student presentations, three of the faculty gave presentations – Baldwin, Salazar, and Sally Henrie, assistant professor of chemistry.

“One of the most rewarding moments of this whole trip was speaking to a man in the hotel lobby after we had delivered our paper,” said Baldwin. “He told me how much he enjoyed our presentation and that he thought Union’s chemistry research program is a model that other universities should emulate. If there had been only that one person in our lecture, it would have been worth it.”

All the professors who attended think that the students who attend this conference will walk away from it changed in some way.

“The conference helps students make the transition from student to professional,” said Henrie.

“It’s important for students to attend these lectures to get exposure to the latest [research] in the field,” said Salazar. “It really helps students to see that even though this is professional level chemistry, they are at the point that they can understand the talks and what’s being said.”

“I always hope that this conference will bring about a change in the way students and faculty think creatively and imaginatively regarding the role of chemistry and how we can use it to improve society,” said Baldwin. “It would be hard to walk away from this and not see greater complexity and depth to God’s creation, not just to stand in awe, but to catalyze one to find their place in this creation because it glorifies the Creator.”

By Jody Webster,
Class of 2005


Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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