On Nov. 14, NEIU hosted the third annual Women in Science conference which celebrates women’s contributions to the field of chemistry. Associate Professor Dr. Jing Su was responsible for leading the Women in Science planning committee and her research focus is Medical Chemistry. The conference is one of several initiatives from Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (CHEC).
Chicago CHEC is a large collaborative grant involving NEIU, Northwestern University and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a mission to reduce or eliminate healthcare disparities in cancer across the city of Chicago. The program is currently funded through a five year grant and is currently in its fourth year. Chicago CHEC fulfills its mission in three ways; through public outreach, research funding and education. The Women in Science conference’s purpose is to meet the education portion by bringing together students, professionals and professors by using hands on science.
Research Center Manager Dr. Jolie Brinkman said,“The women in science conference is to elevate and bring attention to women and get women, particularly here at Northeastern, interested in the sciences.” Brinkman continued to give a brief history on the last two conferences. Last year, the theme was based on women’s contribution to mathematics and the first year was biology.
“Commonly there’s a sense of not having any role models or mentorship so that’s really what the conference is all about to really highlight… Every year we include a career panel… We try to get a diverse set of people in different careers to talk and the audience to ask questions. We look for a higher profile keynote speaker, if possible, somebody who is pretty established in the field of that year and we do a cultural program every year.” Brinkman said.
The conference began with an opening speech by Dr. Christina Ciecierski followed by two open sessions on women’s contributions to physics and chemistry. The conference also featured two career panels featuring: Dr. Michael Stern, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research at NEIU; Dr. Marzenna Weresa, Dean of the Collegium of World Economy at Warsaw School of Economics; Dawid Majcherek, Collegium of World Economy, at Warsaw School of Economics. Dr. Lidia Filus, Chair of Mathematics, at the College of Arts and Sciences at NEIU.
The Volunteers at the conference were chemistry graduate and undergraduate students: Vanessa Dasilva, Annie Fritz, Najlaa Alzahrani, Marya Al Homoud, Nida Ali, Monica Mahida, Denisse Feliz, Daisy Barrios, Stephanie Salazar, Martinez Malvina Haxhiu, Paula Sanchez Garcia. They performed experiments in an effort to help people understand the chemical science that surrounds us in everyday life. The experiments included making ice cream with dry ice, testing cleaners for acidity and basicity and demonstrated making polymers. The conference concluded with Maria Boundas Bakalis reading an excerpt from “Discovering Marie Curie.”
Chicago CHEC fulfills part of its mission through its paid summer fellowship program. Through this program students from any major can participate. NEIU students get the opportunity to meet fellows from UIC and Northwestern along with university leaders from each campus. So far, this program allowed students to go to a cadaver lab as well as participate in a congressional letter campaign. If anyone is interested in joining the fellowship, their application will be available Dec. 2 and due by Feb. 28. Students can volunteer for next year’s conference by emailing Dr. Brinkman at [email protected]