Women in Chemical Sciences becomes InCS!

We think that it might be time to broaden the name of WCS to be inclusive to all forms of diversity in our department. We want to continue supporting the same events, workshops and lectures, just under a broader name to serve a more diverse membership. From now on, Women in Chemical Sciences will be known as Inclusion in Chemical Sciences!

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Welcome to Incoming First Years!

Welcome to all our incoming first years! We will have our first member meeting of the academic year on Wednesday October 3rd from 1-2 PM in CHB 439. We’ll discuss upcoming officer elections – the list of current officers can be found here. Hope to see you there!

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WCS and DICE host summer workshop series on building soft skills for a career in STEM

The Women in Chemical Sciences and Diversity in Clean Energy groups at UW are teaming up to start a career soft-skills workshop series. We are planning three workshops for the summer and plan to continue the series throughout the academic year.

The summer workshops will be focused on “LinkedIn profiles/online presence” (June 28th), “Resume building” (July 26th), and “How to network” (August 23rd). Our planned format is a 15-20 minute Q&A with one or more industry experts, followed by an hour for the attendees to practice what they’ve just learned.

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WCS annual lecture features ARPA-E’s Jennifer Gerbi

The 4th annual WCS lecture took place on Wednesday, May 2nd. Our speaker was Dr. Jennifer Gerbi, a program director at ARPA-E.

Dr. Jennifer Gerbi has been practicing physics and materials science for over 20 years, and has a keen interest in the intersection of high quality science and new business development. Currently serving as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), she manages the DELTA and SHIELD programs, developed the new SENSOR program, and manages additional projects for solar and power electronics. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Gerbi worked at Dow Corning in multiple capacities including portfolio building and new business development. She led teams in areas such as solar, batteries, and silicones for electronics. Prior to Dow Corning, Gerbi served as a Senior Materials Scientist at The Dow Chemical Company, focused on rooftop solar shingles. Gerbi served a postdoctoral fellowship at Argonne National Laboratory (vapor phase diamond thin film growth) and as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois (novel thin film diffusion barriers). Dr. Gerbi holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science (semiconductor focus) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also received an M.S. in Physics from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Physics from Bard College.

WCS members had the chance to sit down for lunch with Dr. Gerbi and discuss her career path.

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Upcoming event: FActing Workshop

 Do you want to share the passion you feel for your research in your presentations? In this hands-on workshop, learn how to apply acting skills to your own science communications, to better engage and inform your audiences. Snacks provided. (Feb. 16th, CHB 102, 12-2PM)

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Donna Nelson Visit

WCS members had the pleasure to attend lunch and dinner with Mangels Lecture speaker Donna Nelson last week. Donna also gave some excellent talks about both the Nelson Diversity Surveys and her work as a science adviser for Breaking Bad. Special thanks to former WCS president Beth Mundy for nominating this speaker and coordinating the visit!

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Coming up: Mangels Lecture with Donna Nelson – ‘The Science of Breaking Bad: A look behind the Hollywood screen’

WCS is hosting this year’s Mangels Lecture!

As science advisor of the hit TV series Breaking Bad Donna J. Nelson will speak about her experiences in Hollywood and how the world of science and film connect. She will reveal how the science and science-related information behind the show was crafted in order to support the actors and engage the public. Nelson also will discuss initiation of and interactions in the work with script writers, providing key insight in the world of chemistry.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The event will take place at 7:30 pm in Kane 102 on 1/10.

A link to the event can be found here, or on Facebook here.

In addition to the lecture, WCS will be hosting a conversation with Dr. Nelson on Diversity in STEM. This will take place on 1/9 at 4 pm in CHB 102.



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Physics seminar: Fixed and growth mindsets in physics graduate admissions

Last week, UW’s physics department hosted a seminar by Rachel Scherr, a UW physics alumna and senior research scientist at Seattle Pacific University who has also conducted research on diversity and education for the American Physical Society (APS). This discussion was prompted in part by the lack of diversity in this year’s cohort of physics graduate students: of 31 students, 30 identify as male. While the demographics of our chemistry department are much more balanced in terms of gender, the topic of diversity in admissions is important for anyone interested in graduate education.

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Edmonds Heights Outreach Event

Victor Lee, Abbie Ganas, and Katie Guye visited a local school during one of their science events, where they illustrated how different type of markers and pens are affected by mixtures of solvents on coffee filters. When these coffee filters are dried, these solvents create beautiful watercolor-like pictures. Similarly, the kids colored the book markers and then placed a drop of acetone on them and placed them in a bucket of water. The acetone then created different patterns on the book marker. These easy and fun demonstrations are a good way to teach children about diffusion and solubility. 

If you enjoy helping with children and show them how much science can be, we have several events coming up to give you the opportunity! Next week, we will also be at edmonds heights elementary on Friday, May 19th, at Penny Creek elementary. If that does not work for you, we will also have the Shoreline STEM Fest on that Saturday. See our calendar for more details or feel free to contact Abbie, our outreach coordinator, or any of the other officers for more info.


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Dealing with Controversy: Science Communication to Nonscientists

Joy Delyria talked to us about easing the difficulties that scientific controversy presents. As a scientist, we are not here to change an individual’s mind using one conversation. I mean, if we do, that is awesome! However, realistically, that is usually not the case. Instead, each conversation is about portraying the science and exposing the common myths. 

When starting this type of conversation, she first suggests to access one’s audience. How are they currently standing on the issue? Are they venters, on the fence, or on board? Talking to each different type of individual requires a different approach. Based upon the response, we are then able to establish frames of reference for audience. 

The second major subject is the potential traps that need to be avoided. A story about cute critters, for example, tries to invoke empathy by creating a narrative. However, this story solely focuses on a tiny aspect of the issue at hand and makes the audience feel as if they are being manipulated. Another important trap to avoid is the crisis or doom and gloom stories that tend to overshadow the subtle message of the talk and to explain the issue at matter too complicated and too difficult to understand. This type of trap also mainly focuses on incidents and accidents as evidence, which does not support scientific discussions.

While these conversations are occurring, some things are to be advised. Most importantly, it is vital to listen to what they are saying, and making comments that assure that. This usually means that the audience is more willing to listen rather than shutting down the argument immediately. Secondly, scientific concepts need to be clarified using good metaphors. Typically, scientists would show the effects of CO2 as part of the green house gases that would heat up the earth whereas a simple example of a blanket would suffice and be more relatable to layman. Creating more CO2 gas is like a blanket; the more layers you put on it, the hotter it gets. Secondly, addressing their values is important in this conversation. Do they personally feel responsible for the environment? Or do they feel more responsible for the community? Addressing these values of responsible management and stewardship would encourage a more positive conversation about the environment.

In conclusion, Joy reminds us that it is not up to us as individuals to change one’s opinion. What we can do, however, is to collectively show them our scientific perspective on these controversial issues in a positive manner. And this by itself is considered success.




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