Senior Chemists Committee

Virtual Seminars on December 6 and 8, 2021

Through the Mini-Grant offered by the National Senior Chemist Committee, SCALACS’ Senior Chemists Committee hosted two 60-minutes virtual seminars on December 6 and December 8. Among the attendees were high school students, teachers, and fellow chemists. We were honored to have Dr. Roger Turner as our presenter for both webinars. Dr. Turner is the Science Museum Curator of the Science History Institute in Philadelphia. Dr. Roger Turner developed “Science Matters: The Case of Rare Earth Elements,” a science curriculum module where high school students can learn about sustainable technology. He created a digital exhibit about the emerging field of Mechanochemistry titled “The Science of Crush.” Dr. Turner earned his Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. You can watch the recorded webinars here.



CAM students
Students from California Academy of Math and Science (CAM) were among the attendees of webinars.


OCTOBER 9TH, 2021, 1:00 – 2:30 pm


Krishna Kallury, Gerald Delker, Sofia Pappatheodorou, Eleanor Siebert, Barbara Sitzman, Oliver Seely, Surya Prakash, Carlos Gutierrez, Florence Lin, Kathy Flynn, Gloria Takahashi, Candice Groat, and Edye Udell (9 of the participants are Senior Chemists from SCALACS).


Krishna Kallury chaired the meeting. He welcomed the participants and thanked them for attending the meeting. He gave a brief on how the National Senior Chemist Committee offered mini-grants for local sections and their vision that it could be used for promoting interaction between the Senior Members of the local section and how their knowledge/experience could be utilized for training local high school and college science students and their teachers. He pointed out that in the grant proposal, three in-person breakfast meetings were planned to get together the Senior Chemists Members of SCALACS to get to know each other and plan how their services can be utilized for training the students. Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, such in-person meetings could not be organized and instead a zoom meeting was planned to plan future activities. He spoke about the agenda that was distributed to all participants, which consisted of four major points, viz, subjects/topics for presentation to local school districts, what formats are to be used to educate students, resources available and scheduling the events. With that, the floor was left for open discussion and suggestions by participants.

The points that emerged from each of the participants are summarized below:

  • Seminars by Nobel Laureates from the region focusing on how their research work evolved during their careers culminating in the awards
  • Involve/invite students from all over CA including college students in the planning and conduct of events along with the Junior
  • Chemists and Senior Chemists of the region
  • Preparing 20 minute zoom video presentations and build a library in a centralized place which can be accessed by teachers and students
  • Arranging chemistry lab competitions/demonstrations
  • Conducting poster sessions
  • Organizing science fairs
  • Cannot just reach out to the top students only, but cater to the lower and middle level students to bring them on par with the main stream
  • Recruit teacher volunteers for help
  • Mentoring the lower brass students to enhance their performance skills/levels
  • Introduce the students to the concept of research
  • Create an on-line drop box and ask students to drop their questions/problems that can be answered by appropriate senior chemists and/or teacher volunteers
  • Stress on every day problems like gas or oil leaks or pollution and discuss how to minimize and/or eliminate them
  • Design contests in hands-on things to do
  • Bring out the inter-relationship between various branches of science and the inter-dependence of science/engineering/medicine/biotechnology/computer programming
  • Award cash incentives for student activities
  • Conduct visit to university research laboratories
  • Zoom seminars on history of science – how it evolved during the last century
  • Create virtual field trips
  • Offering extra credits or some other perks to students to energize them to take science-oriented careers
  • For those taking Career Technical Education Courses (CTE) in School Districts, give hands-on training in various industrial sectors with the help of Senior Chemists from Industry and Researchers at the Industry
  • Senior Chemists can participate in zoom or in-person seminars and/or round table discussions and appraise students on their career experiences

    Observations by Participants:

  • Teachers cannot afford to give up class time for accommodating the in-person or zoom interactions and presentations/discussions with students
  • Students do not have a lot of time either
  • Chemistry competitions reach out to only the top students, not the lower brass
  • Activities must cater to all students, not the top few
  • City Council Members must be contacted and be involved
  • To not cut into class times, conduct evening pizza/supper events
  • In-person training is good, but difficult to implement
  • Seek teachers’ help in reaching out to minority students
  • Follow the lead of Magnet Schools conducting mentoring
  • Three of the SCALACS senior chemists offered donations to augment the “small grant” given by National Senior Chemists Committee
  • Young Scholars programs (implemented in the 1990s) paid students for attending mentoring sessions and can be considered in the present planning of events
  • Couple of examples of Nobel Laureates belonging to the Hispanic community were mentioned, late Mario Molina and Louis Alvarez
  • Saturday training sessions attracted very few students and no underrepresented student showed up
  • Teachers volunteering to train students can be paid for their work
  • Some kids are motivated by “certificates of training received” which they can include in their college applications, but other kids may not be interested
  • Involvement of ACS in this certificate incentive may or may not work
  • Retired Senior Chemists can bestow some time during the weekends, unlike those who are still working, to participate in the short duration zoom or in-person events
  • Encourage students belonging to the minority communities to organize clubs on their campuses and participate in competitions or training sessions
  • Sub-committees must be constituted to make one person take charge of each planned event and organize them
  • Names like Sarah Feakins and Megan Fieser from USC were suggested to address current climate and related issues and get students to understand and act upon them
  • A list of teachers who can be contacted can be provided to the planning committee

    A video recording of the proceeds of this meeting is available with Krishna Kallury and can be provided to anyone interested.

    The meeting concluded with Krishna Kallury thanking all participants for their input and for making it convenient to attend the zoom panel discussion meeting.