College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Section of American Chemical Society Honored for Book Club Program

Group wins ChemLuminary Award for engaging activity

APRIL 29, 2016 | BY CHRISTINA STEUBE

Pictured (left to right): Martin Rudd, Chair of the ACS Committee on Local Section Activities; Jason Ritchie (UM Chemistry), John Wiginton (UM Chemistry), Ed Movitz (UM Health and Safety), Donna Nelson, President of the ACS

Pictured (left to right): Martin Rudd, Chair of the ACS Committee on Local Section Activities; Jason Ritchie (UM Chemistry), John Wiginton (UM Chemistry), Ed Movitz (UM Health and Safety), Donna Nelson, President of the ACS

The University of Mississippi’s local section of the American Chemical Society has been awarded the 2015 ChemLuminary Award for its Common Reading Experience program.

The award, for “Best Activity or Program in a Local Section Stimulating Membership Involvement,” honors the Ole Miss section’s dedication to member development and outreach through book club activities. More than 60 people participated in the program that allowed members to meet and discuss the scientific, historic and social aspects of the books distributed to the club.

The books, Warmth Disperses and Time Passes, The Alchemy of Air, and The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, consistently drew at least 30 participants to the discussions, including many students and young faculty members.

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Susan Pedigo and Nathan Hammer, faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, organized the program. The feedback from members has been extremely positive, and many members want to continue the program in coming years, said Jason Ritchie, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and councilor of the Ole Miss Local Section.

“It worked out very well,” Ritchie said. “Rather than coming to local section meetings and listening to guest lectures, members participated in a common reading experience and shared their thoughts and what they learned with each other. We learned that members really enjoyed this new social meeting model and were excited about continuing it.”

April Steen and Ryan Sessums (UM Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate students) participate in an ACS book club meeting.

Students April Steen and Ryan Sessums

Ole Miss Local Section Chair Jared Delcamp, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, became involved in the local section during these book club activities.

“I found the book club program to be exceptionally useful in meeting ACS members I had previously had few interactions with,” Delcamp said.

“Providing a central discussion focus through the provided books made approaching members I had not interacted with exceptionally simple.

“Through this program, I developed friendships across several Ole Miss departments while reading some interesting books.”

Through partnerships with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Ole Miss Local Section of the ACS advertised the activity through flyers, class announcements and emails to all graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in chemistry, as well as to area chemistry professors and scientists.