Pictured above – Tech student Claudia McDavid.

McDavid said her time at Tennessee Tech has given her a strong foundation in both biology and chemistry

Cookeville – Claudia McDavid has received the 2023 Student Leadership award from the American Chemical Society. One of only 14 in the world to do so, McDavid is a junior from Kingsport and a chemistry and biology double major with minors in sociology and Honors.

She serves as the secretary of the Tech chapter of the Student Members of the ACS and is a peer mentor for the university’s Honors program. The ACS Leadership award recipients are selected from competitive pools of students from both national and international universities based on their leadership skills and extracurricular activities. The application was open to any undergraduate ACS member in the world. The selected students possess the skills and potential to become future leaders within the ACS professional society.

McDavid attended an invitation-only ACS Leadership Institute in Atlanta, Georgia in Jan. as part of her selection. She was able to meet and learn from the immediate past ACS President, current ACS President, ACS president-elect, the ACS National Board, technical division leaders, local section leaders and others. She was also able to learn more about the inner workings of the ACS and further opportunities for leadership within that organization.

“I was able to make connections with chemists who were at varying stages in their careers. I met other undergraduate student chapter leaders, like me, professors, chemists who work in industry, graduate and postdoctoral students, plus many others,” McDavid said. “Everyone present was a leader in the ACS. I connected with several people who were also interested in forensics and were able to learn more about their journey. I met other chemists with different backgrounds, perspectives and interests.” 

When looking at colleges, McDavid wanted to find a program that specifically had forensics. She was also interested in attending medical school at that time, so she wanted a school that had a good pre-medicine program. 

“When touring here, I found that Tech’s chemistry program has a forensics concentration. I didn’t add the biology major until later in my college career, but it opens more opportunities for my future career goals,” McDavid said. “I decided to attend Tech due to the fact that I felt Tech would give me a personalized education and great opportunities, which it has.”

McDavid said her time at Tech has given her a strong foundation in both biology and chemistry “which is vital to success in forensics.” Within the chemistry department, she participates in research with Jeff Boles, chemistry department chair, and her project focuses on forensic chemistry. She received a Computer and Information Science and Engineering grant for the summer of 2022 to further her research. She presented this research at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the ACS in San Juan, Puerto Rico in Oct. 2022, and plans to present at the National Meeting of the ACS in Indianapolis, Indiana in March 2023.

“This gives me valuable hands-on experience related to my career goals. I have gained leadership experience through my involvement with the SMACS,” McDavid said. “ACS has given me the opportunity to present my research at regional and national conferences, which has allowed me to connect with other like-minded people.”

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech.

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