Uniting Women in Chemistry
Posted: Jul 09, 2019
In 2016, Dr. Stowers — a then new member of the Department — met with a handful of women in the department to discuss a potential program for female chemistry students. The meeting also addressed the challenges that female BYU students face within the chemistry major. This meeting was the catalyst for the idea of the Women in Chemistry Club. In Winter 2018, Naomi Flindt (a then, first year-graduate) approached Halle Murray (a chemistry student going into her senior year) and together they united their common passion to help girls in the major stay involved, and their common goal to start a club that empowers women to navigate the major. Naomi and Halle then approached Lara Grether (a senior in biochemistry at this time). “The diversity of the team was important as we wanted a representative from each undergraduate major in the department to help spread the word to their peers. These majors (Biochemistry and Chemistry) are very small in comparison to other STEM majors making it important to have a club specifically for chemistry and biochemistry. We felt there was a need for girls specially to have a community where they can turn to when they have questions about their major, classes, and career prep. We thought that this club could be a great place to start building the foundation for such a community”, said Naomi Flint. By the end of the summer the club was established, and now consists of a leadership of 11 and over 80 total graduate and undergraduate students. The club was also approved as an official American Chemical Society (ACS) affiliated club.
“The Brigham Young University Women in Chemistry Club is a student initiative group of women looking to build a community within the department of chemistry to inspire, support, and address issues concerning quality of life for women in chemistry”, says Naomi, “These aims are being achieved through informal monthly socials, annual panel luncheon, and an annual lecture symposium. We hope that this will also aid in enriching students scientific network inside as well as outside of BYU. We hope that this club will not only help with the retention of undergraduates in the major but will help them find a trajectory to successful careers in chemistry and biochemistry.”
The club hosted five activities last year. These informal activities are designed to foster peer mentoring, support, and to help undergraduates navigate career and research opportunities. This past year the club hosted a Q&A snack and chat with Dr. Van Ry and Professor Sansom. The highlight activity of the year was a luncheon with Geraldine Richmond. Dr. Richmond is a prestigious analytical chemist from the University of Oregon who serves on the national science board. She was previously awarded the Priestley Medal and runs an outreach program for early stage female scientists to succeed called COACh.
“We are extremely grateful to Dr. Stowers and her commitment to empower women in the department. We have been supported immensely by all members of the faculty in the department of chemistry and biochemistry. We have also received great support from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and BYUSA”, says Flindt.
Photos courtesy of Naomi Flindt
Article by Taelin Wilford