The Waynesburg University chapter of the American Chemical Society [ACS] has a long history. The student run ACS chapter has been around since the 1950s, according to Dr. Evonne Baldauff, chairperson for the Chemistry and Forensic Science department and associate professor of chemistry.The chapter started receiving recognitions and awards in the early 2000s, and has been recognized as “Chapter of the Year,” for three years in a row.
For Baldauff, what makes chapter of the year such an achievement for the students and staff involved is that it’s a highly competitive process. Baldauff said, each May, the chapter submits a report of all the events, ranging from community outreach programs, professional development, presentations, social events and home school labs to name a few.
“There are hundreds upon hundreds of chapters that submit for the award each year,” Baldauff said. “Only 40 of those hundreds of chapters get the award. For the past three years, we’ve been lucky enough to receive the honor [of being one of the 40 selected chapters].”
2016 was the first year of the chapters recent run of success. In 2016, the chapter ranked third in the country in total activities in a given year. The chapter hosted more than 104 event that year. Some of the events that fall into that category are the Haunted Chemistry Lab, seminars, National Chemistry Week and chemical tie dye.
One of the other events Baldauff hopes to add to their growing list of yearly events is a partnership with Waynesburg Central teachers and students.
“We want to go out in the community more,” Baldauff said. “We want to help teachers do what they want to do with their students and to help them be more effective with that.”
One thing Baldauff attributes to Waynesburg’s success compared to other chapters is that there has been a lot of “young interest” in the ACS. Baldauff said that in the past, most of the chapter was made up of juniors and seniors that never really had any growth up until recently. There has been a much higher number of underclassmen membership and participation the last few years.
This upcoming March, the chapter will travel to Orlando, Florida, to officially accept the award. Accepting the award won’t be the only thing the chapter does at the national conference.
The president of the chapter, Jenna Gearhart, will be giving give a presentation on a research project she is working on. Several other students in the chapter will also present their work.
Baldauff said that officers of the chapter usually get first dibs , s to events like the national conference, but she always wants a few juniors to go as well.
“When juniors go to conferences like [the national conference] they tend to bring back the enthusiasm for science and the experience they had for the upcoming members, especially with the seniors graduating,” Baldauff said.