COOKEVILLE – It takes commitment to serving their members, their campus, and community for a student chapter of the American Chemical Society to succeed. Tennessee Tech University’s student chapter of the ACS is now ranked in the top 10 in the world for fulfilling those commitments.
“This club has been ranked as one of the top clubs in the country for many years now, first while Dr. Dan Swartling was the advisor, and for many years now with Amanda Carroll as the advisor,” Jeffrey Boles, chemistry department chair, said. “Each advisor has guided the students to higher and higher levels of achievement.”
In fact, they were recently ranked number seven in the world when the ACS published a list of the top 10 student chapters with the most events for 2020-2021 academic year.
“The Tech chapter has consistently received an Outstanding award, the top award given and a Green Chemistry award for the past nine years,” Carroll, senior lecturer, chemistry department, said. “This places our chapter in the top 5-10% of student chapters in the world.”
The top 10 ranking was based on the total number of events conducted by a chapter. Tech’s chapter of the ACS had a total of 80 events: 19 service events, 15 professional development events and 46 chapter development events. From these, seven included Green Chemistry aspects, which lead to their receiving the Green Chemistry award.
ACS looks holistically at the chapters; so, it’s not just about member size and whether or not they are “active.” They look to see what services they provide to campus and community, as well as the professional development of one-another, according to Boles.
“ACS is the largest professional organization in the world dedicated to a single discipline, so that makes our rankings that much more special, as there are lots of competing clubs,” Boles said.
Tech’s chapter of the ACS has approximately 65 members, which includes 17 national members with paid memberships to national ACS, and 48 local members with dues paid to the local student chapter which goes toward chapter events and activities, according to Carroll.
“Outstanding chapters are well rounded and provide thoughtful and in-depth responses to the report assessment questions, as well as a thorough and detailed reporting of all events with supporting documentation,” Carroll said. “Chapters are also expected to keep and report detailed and accurate financial information to ensure the chapter is in good financial standing.”
The Outstanding award is based on the overall activity by the student chapter in chapter development, professional development, service and budget. The chapter also has to answer self-assessment questions in their annual report to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses for the year and their goals.
Service events include outreach to the department, campus and community. This includes participating in events like Preview Day and Spring Showcase, doing science activities with the campus and community and assisting in the Chemistry Olympiad.
Professional development events include hosting and attending speakers, attending conferences, presenting research and writing grant and funding proposals to support activities and conference travel.
Chapter development events include chapter meetings, executive committee meetings, fundraisers and social events to help connect members. Green Chemistry events must promote the knowledge and practices of Green Chemistry to others.
“We also worked with the Nashville local section of ACS and hosted a virtual speaker who presented on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Respect in Chemistry,” Carroll said. “This earned our chapter a 2021 ChemLuminary award in Fostering Interactions between Local Sections and Student Chapters from ACS.”
Three of their events held in 2021 are currently finalists for ChemLuminary awards for the Nashville section of ACS. They include the Outstanding Community Involvement in CCEW – Nashville Earth Day and TN Tech Water Bottle Giveaway; the Outstanding Public Outreach Event Organized by a Student Group, TN Tech NCW Activities; and the Outstanding Sustainability Activities – TN Tech Sustainability Day Celebration.
The Tech chapter of the ACS plans to send students to the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the ACS in San Juan, Puerto Rico in October, depending on funding, according to Carroll. They will also attend the national ACS meeting in March 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“We also plan several activities for National Chemistry Week, Mole Day and Chemists Celebrate Earth Week for the upcoming year,” Carroll said.
Of the top 10 student chapters of the ACS in the world, six were in the United States, and four in Puerto Rico. There were 5326 chapter events worldwide in the 2020-2021 academic year. A total of 234 chapter awards were presented worldwide in the categories of Outstanding, Green, Commendable and Honorable Mention, with 189 of those being awarded in the U.S.
“We are very proud of our students and their dedication to maintaining this status,” Boles said.
For more information on Tech’s student chapter of the ACS visit, https://www.tntech.edu/cas/chemistry/student-organizations.php.