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UAB’s American Chemical Society chapter honored for its work during COVID-19 pandemic

  • May 20, 2021
The UAB undergraduate student affiliates group of the American Chemical Society has been awarded its highest recognition for the 2019-2020 academic year, Outstanding Student Chapter Award.
Written by: Dylan Baggiano
Media contact: Brianna Hoge

ACS.3Members of the 2019-2020 UAB SAACSFor the fifth consecutive year, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s student affiliate American Chemical Society has received the Outstanding Chapter Award, for the 2019-2020 academic year. The award honors the members’ commitment to spreading the joy of science with their peers and fostering an interest in chemistry at local elementary schools, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By arranging an online chemistry learning session for elementary students, the UAB SAACS chapter members were able to share their love of science with younger children in the community, even during the uncertain times of 2020.

“They never missed a beat as they planned virtual events and transitioned from face-to-face events to virtual ones,” said Jaqueline Nikles, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Chemistry. “Several days before the online session, the students carefully made individual packages filled with supplies so students at Gwin Elementary School could perform the activities too.”

Social distancing and other health precautions raised some barriers to meeting and holding events; but with help from other officers, chapter members and faculty, they were able to find solutions, says Lucas Jaskowski, current president of UAB’s SAACS chapter.

“Though coronavirus has affected our ACS chapter’s activities, we have become a resourceful team, and with support from our community, we have been able to adapt and deliver our events through virtual methods,” Jaskowski said. “We were able to do this all while becoming more engaged in our Birmingham communities and inspiring younger students to become the chemists of tomorrow.”

For their dedication and determination, the ACS awarded the UAB chapter with the Outstanding Chapter Award — one of the highest honors a chapter can receive.

“Less than 25 percent of all the ACS student affiliates across the country receive the Outstanding Chapter Award, the highest honor, and the UAB group has received it every year for the past five years.”

– Jaqueline Nikles, Ph.D.

“Less than 25 percent of all the student affiliates across the country receive this award,” said Nikles, who also serves as the chapter’s faculty adviser. “The fact that the UAB chapter has received it for five consecutive years is a testament to all of the members’ hard work.” 

While Nikles give all the credit to her students, the chapter members say they would not have received the Outstanding Chapter Award without their adviser’s constant advice and support.

“She always communicates opportunities to us and helps our officers complete tasks that are critical to our chapter’s goals, like our community involvement,” Jaskowski said. “We truly could not do it without Dr. Nikles.”

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit, professional development organization, providing chemists with a diverse network of more than 150,000 scientists, with multiple international branches. Students attending institutions like UAB can join the ACS as affiliates, begin establishing their professional networks, and collaborate on chemistry-related projects as part of a national organization that has outreach to diverse communities and industries.