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Chem Scholars

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 Chem Scholars program is designed to support high-achieving students based on academic merit. Students must meet the following criteria: 

  1. Full-time Chemistry students maintaining a 3.0 GPA or higher
  2. Demonstration of academic competency in Chemistry and/or research productivity
  3. Interest in pursuing a career in chemistry or a graduate or professional degree beyond UWF
  4. Participation in outreach/mentoring activities relevant to the study of Chemistry
  5. Have an interest in the advancement of underrepresented groups in Chemistry
  6. Taken General Chemistry I

Chem Scholars applications are closed for Spring 2024. They will open again in Fall 2024. 

If you have any questions, please contact Meagan Russell at 


Chem Scholar Taylor Best examining flasks.

Program Highlights

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.

The Chem Scholars Program has positively impacted the entire department by catalyzing an increase in the number of chemistry majors, the percentage of underrepresented majors, and the percentage of all majors matriculating to graduate school, especially underrepresented students. The underrepresented Chemistry graduates increased from an average of 6% during 2009-2012 to an average 30% during 2012-2017. The percentage of underrepresented students pursuing PhD degrees has increased from 0% during 2010-2012 to an average 60% in 2012-2017. 

“The success of the Chemistry Scholars Program is a direct reflection of our chemistry faculty’s passion for educating 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.”

Aaron Mena, De’Zhanae McCall-Butler, and Constance Smylie receive National American Chemical Society scholarships, named ACS Scholars for 2016-17

Three UWF chemistry students receive National American Chemical Society scholarships, named ACS Scholars for 2016-17

Three students from the University of West Florida Department of Chemistry were recently selected to join the National American Chemical Society Scholars Program. A total of 12 UWF students have been named ACS Scholars since 2013, receiving more than $100,000 in renewable scholarship funds.

“The success of UWF students in the ACS Scholars program is a direct result of the students’ hard work and our departmental mentoring and advising efforts,” said Dr. Karen Molek, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. “It is absolutely a group effort by all of our students and faculty.”

De’Zhanae McCall-Butler, Constance Smylie and Aaron Mena were awarded scholarships of up to $3,000 each and invited to join the prestigious ACS Scholars program, which encourages students to maintain high academic standards and work with a mentor to ensure success in the field of chemical sciences following graduation.


UWF chemistry department achieves high acceptance rate for students attending top 25 professional doctorate programs

The University of West Florida Department of Chemistry recently announced an 88 percent acceptance rate among graduates who applied to doctorate programs. Of those who applied, 43 percent were accepted to top 25 ranked programs.

Of the 26 students who graduated during the 2016-2017 academic year, 14 applied and were accepted to graduate or professional doctorate programs. One chemistry graduate was accepted to a top 10 professional program and three were accepted to top 10 professional doctorate programs. All of the students accepted to top 10 institutions were Chemistry Scholars and involved in undergraduate research with chemistry faculty at UWF.

“We have a long tradition of focusing on preparing our chemistry majors for success in graduate school, professional school and the workplace,” said Dr. Alan Schrock, professor and chair of the chemistry department. “Our chemistry faculty are typically engaging in research with our undergraduates for several years, and this real-life laboratory experience translates into chemistry graduates who are very well prepared for direct employment in the chemistry industry, as well as high levels of success in graduate and professional school.”


For more information, please contact:

Karen Sinclair Molek, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Chemistry
Administrative Fellow for Student Engagement, Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering
MARC U*STAR Scholars, UWF STEM Scholars, and Chemistry Scholars Program Director

Meagan Russell
Program Coordinator
Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering