Spotlight: University of New England Student Chapter

University of New England student chapter members.

  • Chapter presidents: Molly Wright, Megan Perry
  • Chapter members: 25
  • ACS student members: 15
  • Facebook page:
  • Institution description: Small, private, rural, four-year

How did you celebrate National Chemistry Week (NCW) and Chemists Celebrate Earth Day?

Every year our chapter celebrates NCW (we call it Chemapalooza) with daily events, demonstrations, food, and raffle prizes in the campus quad. For last year’s theme, Chemistry of Colors, we baked and decorated periodic table cupcakes and provided information on the dye mol­ecules in the frosting. We also performed colorimetric reaction demos, made rain­bow slime and elephant toothpaste, and made our own liquid-nitrogen ice cream in various colors. For Mole Day, we had a bonfire and members made a very lifelike (and safe) mole piñata.

What is your most popular or unique chapter activity?

Our most popular events are NCW, our Valentine’s Day fundraiser, and our Chemistry Club Trivia Lunch. For the Valentine’s Day fundraiser, we attached cheesy, science love-puns to plastic test tubes filled with candy. It was a huge hit that allowed us to raise money and get people interested in our club. Chemical & Engineering News even re-tweeted about it! Chemistry Club Trivia Lunch is a favorite because it allows the depart­ment to bond in a fun and educational way by giving us a reason to eat pizza and have a little friendly competition. All are welcome, and many of our professors come. We don’t just have chemistry or sci­ence questions; we do general trivia, and sometimes there are trivia facts about our professors.

Do you collaborate with other clubs?

We have collaborated a little bit with the University of Southern Maine ACS student chapter. Last year was our first successful attempt to reach out to other chapters, so our gatherings were primarily about get­ting to know each other. We took turns hosting cookouts and celebrated Mole Day together in order to get familiar with each other’s clubs and exchange ideas for fundraising. We are looking forward to fostering that collaboration with other student chapters in Maine and northern New England.

What career-related events does your chapter do?

Just last year our club began attending the Beyond Benign Green Chemistry Outreach Fellows training held at the Warner Babcock Institute in Massachusetts. Not only was it a great way to introduce outreach opportunities; members also had a chance to learn about up-to-date chemistry concepts in relation to modern industry. It was a fantastic stepping stone, especially for students who are interested in elements of chemistry and the environment. We have also started hosting Program in a Box ( events.

Faculty Advisor: Amy Keirstead

Co-advisors: Chris Ambrose and Jill Tenny

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your service as a faculty advisor?

The most rewarding moments are those when I step back and let my students “do their thing” – and they just blow me away with their leadership and their skills and their abilities. From taking them to ACS meetings and watching the students engage with professionals, to run­ning outreach activities and doing demos with children, to brainstorm­ing and executing a fun fundraiser, to getting new members involved through social activities, they have really made me proud.

What advice can you offer those new to the advisor position?

Work with your students, but act as an advisor. Let them take the lead, unless it’s critical that you intervene. Letting them do the lion’s share of the work helps them as they develop their skills and build character and leadership traits. It also allows them to take pride in their successes and learn from their failures. One last piece of advice is to start small. We started our chapter by focusing on doing a few key events each semester really well, which helped us build our chapter and become more known on campus.