The Chem Scholars Program was established in 2011 to recruit and retain high-achieving chemistry students and to increase the number of chemistry students pursuing PhD or MD-PhD degrees, with an emphasis on under-represented students. Students involved in the program meet monthly to learn about summer research programs and post-baccalaureate opportunities, receive career advice, participate in peer-to-peer mentoring and receive professional development and mentoring from Chemistry faculty.
The learning community is modeled after the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which was established by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program directed by Dr. Michael Summers, a UWF Chemistry alumnus. The program incorporates four key components: academic and social integration; knowledge and skill development; support and motivation; and monitoring and advising.
Since the UWF Chemistry Scholars Program was established, the number of under-represented chemistry students pursuing PhD or MD-PhD degrees has increased from 2 percent during the 2009-2012 academic years to 26 percent in 2012-2013.
“The success of the Chemistry Scholars Program is a direct reflection of our chemistry faculty’s passion to educate students through intense mentoring in combination with our students’ fervent motivation to achieve their goals,” said Molek. “This combination creates an environment where students learn about research, scholarship and outreach opportunities, how to distinguish themselves from their peers and how to network with scientists at national conferences.”
In the News
Chem Scholar Accepted to DOW-MIT ACCESS Program
The University of West Florida is encouraging high-achieving chemistry students to pursue doctoral studies through the Chemistry Scholars Program. Hailey Egido-Betancourt, a sophomore Chemistry Scholar, recently attended the prestigious DOW-MIT ACCESS Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She was the first UWF student to participate in the weekend program this September, which introduces talented sophomores, juniors and seniors to the benefits of a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering and materials science. Students are advised on how to best compile a competitive graduate school application and are required to present a research oral presentation to MIT faculty and graduate students. Egido-Betancourt was accepted into the Chemistry Scholars program in January and has been conducting research with Dr. Karen Molek, assistant professor in the UWF Department of Chemistry.
Egido-Betancourt said being involved in the UWF Chemistry Scholars Program has been a rewarding experience.
“The Chemistry Scholars program has provided me with scholarships and leadership experience,” she said. “It has also given me opportunities to develop as a scientist and to meet great scientists throughout the country.”
ACS Scholars Program
Two University of West Florida students were recently invited to join the American Chemical Society Scholars Program, a prestigious accomplishment awarded to approximately 82 students nationwide per year. Since 2012, five UWF students have been named ACS Scholars and have received a total of $25,000 in annual scholarships.
Freshman Amanda Tonnaer and sophomore Chiena Whitt were awarded a total of $6,000 in renewable scholarships through the ACS Scholars Program this fall. They will also have the opportunity to work with a mentor through the program and network with fellow scholars and scientists at future ACS National Meetings.
Both students are also part of the UWF Chemistry Scholars Program, which was established in September 2011 to recruit and retain high-achieving chemistry students and to increase the number of chemistry students pursuing PhD or MD-PhD degrees, with an emphasis on under-represented students.
Whitt is currently conducting research under the direction of Dr. Pamela Vaughan, associate professor in the UWF Department of Chemistry. She credits both the ACS Scholars Program and her academic experience at UWF with impacting her future career goals.
The ACS Scholars Program was established in 1994 to attract African American, Hispanic and American Indian students considered underrepresented in the chemical sciences by the National Science Foundation to pursue careers in the field. The program also aims to help build awareness of the value and rewards associated with careers in chemistry and assist students in acquiring skills and credentials needed for success. For additional information about the ACS Scholars Program, visit www.acs.org.