National University of Singapore ACS Student Chapter Stays Active, Plans for an Uncertain Future

ACS Student Chapter Executive Council at the National University of Singapore
ACS Student Chapter Executive Council at the National University of Singapore: Top row (from left): Samuel Lee (Program Director), Teo Rui Yang (President), Yau Wen Jie (Secretary). Bottom row (from left): Salena Yip (Vice President), Toh Yu Ting (Vice President), Kyna Khoo (Treasurer).

What have you done to ensure that your chapter stays together during the COVID pandemic?

We have stayed connected by meeting online using virtual conferencing tools. We are currently planning activities that can be done virtually to ensure that our chapter members remain connected during the pandemic. Currently, our chapter members are hoping to tutor less privileged students with their homework. We hope that through this program, our members will maintain their commitment to promoting chemistry to high school students. We have also been participating in the Social Distancing Socials organized by ACS. We talked about how COVID-19 has impacted our school life and shared the different events that we were planning during the pandemic. We were glad to have made global friends and to build our chemistry networks.

Have you done any virtual activities in place of in-person ones?

Because the COVID situation has made it more difficult for graduating chemistry students to find a job, we are currently looking into organizing a virtual fireside chat. Through the chat, alumni currently working in various chemical industries will be invited to share industry-related advice with graduating students. Students will be able to better understand the scope of certain industries and specific skills they need before applying for a role. We hope that this fireside chat will give the graduating cohort better insight into the chemical industries and, perhaps, result in less anxiety about the job application process.

How will you run and maintain the chapter if your campus remains closed this fall?

We are currently preparing for a series of virtual activities that could be conducted should our campus remain closed in the fall. Apart from the aforementioned virtual fireside chat and online tutoring services, we are looking into a mentorship program for chemistry undergraduates. In the program, incoming chemistry undergraduates will be paired with a senior chemistry student, allowing them to have a better understanding of the university’s chemistry curriculum. This is especially important since the present COVID situation would result in the majority of classes being held online and students may not have the necessary channels to seek advice.

How is your faculty advisor helping you?

Our faculty advisor, Professor Chin Wee Shong, has been inspiring us to continue engaging with our peers in chemistry. She is extremely supportive of our plans to move some of the activities to an online format. She has also provided us with invaluable feedback on the feasibility of our plans. 

What advice would you give chapters who are struggling to keep their clubs active and engaged?

We hope student chapters around the world will take the COVID-19 pandemic in stride and seek to serve segments of our society who might have been badly affected by the pandemic. By adopting a meaningful cause, such as providing online tutoring to underprivileged students, we believe that members will be more engaged. We also hope that other student chapters can leverage various online platforms or tools to promote chemistry within their communities.