The University of Southern Mississippi’s American Chemistry Society student member chapter was recently named Chapter of the Year by Mississippi’s branch of the organization.
The USM ACS chapter was invited to attend a banquet at Mississippi State University to receive the award. The award ceremony will begin on April 21 at 6 p.m. All Mississippi ACS members are invited to attend.
The awards banquet will include a keynote address from the 2015 Mississippi ACS Chemist of the Year Edwin Lewis and the award for the Johnnie-Marie Whitfield Service Award will also be presented.
David Sliman, president of the USM chapter, said he felt relieved when he learned they would be named chapter of the year.
“It’s a big sigh of relief because we’ve been working really hard as a group,” Sliman said.
He said it felt satisfying to get the recognition from the state level.
Sliman and chapter have completed 17 outreach programs this year that reached over 500 children and clocked in over 50 hours of volunteer time.
The American Chemistry Society’s mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people, according to their web page.
“For almost 140 years, we have been improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry,” the ACS said.
According to the USM webpage, the chapter’s objective is to afford an opportunity for students of a chemical science to become better acquainted and knowledgeable about chemical science as well as gain experience in preparing and presenting technical material before an audience.
Sliman said he believes that the student chapter is important for students to participate in, even if they do not necessarily have a chemical science background.
“We’re the basis of everything. Everything you learned about science was discovered by someone in a lab,” Sliman said.
This is the message Sliman gave to young elementary and high school kids on his outreach programs.
Sliman also said it is much easier to work on something in the laboratory rather than hear it explained in a lecture.
“There are times where I’m in class and I have no idea what he’s talking about. Then I’m in lab and I’m thinking ‘Oh, this makes so much more sense,’” Sliman said.
The ACS chapter works with faculty and students to help achieve a much broader understanding of chemical science. Sliman believes both teachers and students benefit the most from the program.
“We give the teachers a way to showcase what they’re teaching,” said Sliman.
The question many ACS chapter members get when traveling to middle schools and high schools across the state is “Why do I need this?”
“I often ask those kids, ‘Do you want to be a doctor?” Sliman adds “do you want to cure cancer or do you want to cure Zika virus? This is how you get there.”