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SMAACS earns travel grant for national conference

| Friday, February 2, 2018

The Saint Mary’s Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, or SMAACS, recently received a grant to travel to New Orleans in March for the 255th American Chemical Society Meeting.

As an affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS), SMAACS members were able to apply for the travel grants associated with the national meetings held twice throughout the year. They were subsequently awarded $300 and the opportunity to present their research to other ACS members. This grant and additional funding from other grants and scholarships offered at Saint Mary’s will completely cover travel expenses for the 12 students attending. All 12 students and three faculty presenters will present research conducted through the summer and the academic year.

Senior and secretary of SMAACS Kate McMahon spearheaded the application process with the help of junior and SMAACS historian Heather DiLallo and faculty advisor Jennifer Fishovitz. As a fourth-year member of the group, McMahon said she is especially appreciative of this opportunity to share her work and further explore the world of science.

“Most of us have been involved with the work for a while, with some of the participants having been doing research for over a year here at Saint Mary’s,” she said in an email.  “This is an opportunity for us to talk about the research we are doing with other students and professionals in the field, to gain ideas, network and just have a good time celebrating the work we have done.”

The research will cover a variety of topics, including counterfeit medicine, new instrumental analysis techniques and biochemical protein research. Most of the participating students will be part of a symposium on “Chemistry in the Developing World.”

McMahon said this award will shed light on research at Saint Mary’s and open a door to the greater scientific community. 

“This accomplishment is just another opportunity for us to showcase how great the work that is being done at Saint Mary’s really is. We have a lot of fascinating and progressive ideas being researched right here on campus, and this accomplishment represents that,” McMahon said.  “It not only shows our own community that we are capable of ‘keeping up with the big boys,’ but also proves this to the public sector as well. We are strong and capable women here at Saint Mary’s, and we need to highlight and celebrate that fact.”

Fishovitz, a professor of chemistry and physics, said the most rewarding aspect of this trip will be an increased awareness of the innovative research taking place at Saint Mary’s.

“We will be able to spread awareness about the research that’s being done at Saint Mary’s — not only at the conference where the students will get to network with graduate schools, medical schools and other prominent scientists — but also here on campus,” Fishovitz said.  “We’ll show people that our students are doing research, and they’re doing research that is able to be presented at a national meeting with chemists from around the world.”

DiLallo said she is looking forward to representing Saint Mary’s at the national meeting, spending time sharing ideas with colleagues and learning how to utilize a scientific background to improve the world. 

“This is a huge accomplishment for SMAACS to be recognized by the national American Chemical Society as a student chapter that is actively making an impact on our campus and in our world, as well as providing opportunities for undergraduate student research at an early age,” DiLallo said in an email.  “I think this is even more of a reason for Saint Mary’s College to continue to develop a vibrant research culture on campus so that Saint Mary’s students can present at conferences like these and demonstrate the unique and empowering women’s education we receive here.”

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