Managing Stress Workshop

Do you feel overworked, burnout, and overwhelmed? The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on our mental health, in addition to its impact on our physical well-being. 

UAWIC is inviting you to attend the Managing Stress Workshop presented by Rachel Greenly – nurse, graduate student, and Mental Health Consultant. The workshop will run from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (MST) on Thursday, March 4th via Zoom (link: https://zoom.us/j/96266833891?pwd=cEU4RFlRdVNGUzRKZnZ0SExnclk1UT09 , passcode: contact us at wic@ualberta.ca). The workshop will focus on understanding stress and the impacts on your health, recognize common stressors, learning coping strategies, and identifying where to get help. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us!

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IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast 2021

This year we hosted a virtual IUPAC Global Women’s Breakfast! IUPAC aims through these events to provide a platform for women chemists to expand their network of contacts, both locally and internationally. The #GlobalBreakfast celebrates women at different stages of their careers and encourages discussions about equity, diversity and inclusion in the STEM field. Engaging discussions were had about: identifying barriers along the chemistry career path, characteristics of a strong mentor/leader, and work-life balance and stress management tips during a global pandemic. Lastly, three lucky winners were chosen for a $20 gift card to our local restaurant, Sugarbowl!

Margaret Ann-Armour Lecture Series 2021: Dr. Jen Heemstra

The University of Alberta’s Working for Inclusivity in Chemistry (WIC) group is excited to announce our third student-invited speaker, Dr. Jen Heemstra. The lecture series, named after Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour, aims to celebrate diversity in Chemistry by providing a platform for chemists who do outstanding work both in the lab and in promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM. Dr. Heemstra gave two seminars and took the time to meet with numerous students and faculty both from the Chemistry Department and the University community. It was a wonderful opportunity to have Dr. Heemstra discuss her research on nucleic acid molecular recognition and assembly as well as providing wonderful insight through her Imposter Syndrome Workshop.

The events were held virtually over a span of two days:

January 20, 2021: Interrogating enzymatic reactions using nucleic acid molecular recognition and assembly

Nucleic acids are exquisitely adept at molecular recognition and assembly, enabling them to direct nearly all of the processes that make life possible. These capabilities have been fine-tuned by billions of years of evolution, and more recently, have been harnessed in the laboratory to enable the use of DNA and RNA for applications that are completely unrelated to their canonical biological roles. In our lab, we seek to use DNA and RNA for applications in biosensing and biomolecular imaging. Specifically, we utilize DNA aptamers as recognition elements for the development of new assays for small-molecule detection and enantiopurity measurement. This has enabled applications including high-throughput monitoring of small-molecule enantiopurity for reaction optimization. We have also harnessed the specificity of protein-nucleic acid recognition for selective enrichment of inosine-containing RNAs using EndoV, enabling the identification of new sites of A-to-I editing in cells.

January 21, 2021: Imposter Syndrome Workshop

Join Dr. Heemstra for a one-hour interactive session on handling Imposter Syndrome in the workplace. Dr. Heemstra is an advocate for mental health in Academia (see Twitter and her advice column on Chemistry & Engineering News). All students, staff, and Faculty are welcome to attend to learn about managing their own imposter syndrome, as well as tools to create a more supportive environment for the minimization of imposter syndrome for colleagues and mentees.

Thank you Dr. Heemstra for a wonderful, engaging and thought-provoking lecture series!

Diversity in STEMinar Series with Dr. Vincent Ziffle: Chemistry and Indigenous Knowledge

UAlberta Working for Inclusivity in Chemistry (UAWIC) hosted our third Diversity in STEMinar Lecture on Friday, December 11, 2020! Dr. Vincent Ziffle (Assistant Professor from the Department of Indigenous Knowledge and Science at the First Nations University of Canada) is a strong advocate for inclusivity in STEM, specifically through incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge and Food Traditions in Chemistry.

Dr. Ziffle talked about the development of a new Chemistry of Food and Cooking course offered at the First Nations University of Canada. The course has been designed to engage students with practical knowledge in chemistry, and its application to food and cooking. The course covers fundamental chemistry topics including acids and bases, chemical synthesis, accuracy and precision, reaction rates, nomenclature and chemical decomposition of proteins. In addition, diversity and inclusivity is emphasized by highlighting Indigenous Food Traditions with discussions with members of the First Nations (i.e. Elders, chefs, and other Traditional Knowledge holders). This course provides an interactive opportunity for students through in-class demonstrations and an unconventional food laboratory. Despite the ongoing pandemic, students were provided with laboratory manuals and kits to continue their chemistry education from the comfort of their own kitchens. The Chemistry of Food and Cooking course has provided an interdisciplinary approach to the chemistry laboratory, with a great focus on integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Food Traditions in the field of chemistry.

Armour Lecture Series 2020: Dr. Molly Shoichet

This year’s Armour Lecture Series student-invited speaker was Dr. Molly Shoichet. She paid a visit to our campus on February 24 & 25, giving two seminars and taking the time to meet with numerous students, chemistry faculty, and the Dean of Science. It was a pleasure to meet with Dr. Shoichet and discuss the exciting developments in hydrogels as well as her journey to a fulfilling career in academia.

Dr. Shoichet received her SB from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and a PhD in Polymer Science and Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1992. She then began her academic career at the University of Toronto, where she currently holds the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering. Her research is focused on drug and cell delivery strategies in the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, retina) and 3D hydrogel culture systems to model cancer.

Dr. Shoichet served as Ontario’s first Chief Scientist in 2018 where she worked to enhance the culture of science. She has co-founded three spin-off companies, is actively engaged in translational research and science outreach, and is a founder of Research2Reality. She has received numerous awards such as the L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate for North America (2015) and the Killam Prize in Engineering (2017). She has been inducted into all three of Canada’s National Academies – of Science, Engineering, and Health Sciences – and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all our volunteers in organizing a great visit and to our sponsors, University of Alberta Department of Chemistry and CCWEST, for their financial support.


Diversity in STEMinar Series with Dr. Lisa Willis: Applying EDI in STEM Fields

Working for Inclusivity in Chemistry (WIC) is hosting their second Diversity in STEMinar Lecture! Dr. Lisa Willis (Assistant Professor from the Department of Biological Sciences) is a strong advocate for inclusivity in STEM, and has developed a series of workshops and talks to help identify discriminatory biases and guide the creation of inclusive workspaces. She has also been featured on CBC’s Quirks & Quarks discussing women in STEM.

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Dr. Willis’s talk will focus on the realities of discrimination in STEM, and offer suggestions for incorporating equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into existing systems. There is a profound lack of diversity in science labs and classrooms, which has a negative impact on productivity. Scientific research demonstrates that diverse groups are more creative and better able to solve problems. Though the perception is that things are improving, NSERC’s recently released report shows that attrition rates in Canadian STEM fields are higher for women than for men at all career stages and that the percentage of women has not changed substantially in the last 15 years. Racialized and Indigenous people are also underrepresented at Canadian universities. This seminar will explore the scientific research behind discrimination, including both overt and unconscious bias, and provide ideas for how to improve EDI in our everyday lives.

Please join us at 4:00 pm in CCIS 1-430 on Tuesday, November 26th to hear from Dr. Willis. Light refreshments and PD credits will be provided. The event will also be live-streamed via Twitter (@UofAWIC). Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend!

Meet & Greet: Dr. Jim Tung

We are excited to welcome Dr. James (Jim) C. Tung to University of Alberta this week!

Dr. Tung will be speaking about the chemistry job market on Monday October 21 at 4 pm in CCIS 1-140 and will then share his experiences in process chemistry on Tuesday October 22 at 11 am in E3-25.

Join us in the chemistry lounge (E4-43) at 9:30 am on Tuesday October 22 for a chance to sit down with Dr. Tung. We encourage everyone to attend our events and will be providing light refreshments.

October Meet & Greet: Dr. Tara Kahan

We are happy to have Dr. Tara Kahan, Associate Professor of Chemistry from University of Saskatchewan and strong voice in USask Women in Chemistry, sit down with us for a meet & Greet! Dr. Kahan’s work focuses on ice surface reactivity, natural water pollutants,  urban surface chemistry and indoor chemistry.

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Join us on Friday October 4th at 10 am in the E4-43 for some coffee and chats!

September Meet & Greet: Susan Odom

We are pleased to kickoff the semester with our first Meet & Greet!

Prof. Susan A. Odom will be visiting our campus on Monday September 23rd. We encourage any interested individuals to join us for coffee & cookies at 10 am in E4-43 as we chat about her journey in chemistry! Prof. Odom’s research seminar, titled “Organic Molecules as Charge Storage Materials for Redox Flow Batteries,” will follow at 1 pm in E3-25.

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Dr. Odom is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, the same
institution from which she obtained a B.S. in Chemistry in 2003. Prof. Odom moved to Atlanta, GA, where she received a Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, studying electronic delocalization in organic radical cations. Prof. Odom then took position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she developed self-healing electronic materials and damage-indicating microcapsules, after which she joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky in 2011. Her independent research first focused on overcharge protection of lithium-ion batteries. More recently, her research scope expanded to include new materials for redox flow batteries. After receiving tenure in 2017, she took sabbatical leave to further delve into flow battery research with collaborators at MIT and Harvard. Outside of research, Prof. Odom serves as a co-organizer of the Expanding Your Horizons Conference at the University of Kentucky and is in the process of creating an open source textbook for undergraduate organic chemistry.

#LGBTSTEM Day

UAlberta WIC, in collaboration with Pride in STEM, held our 1st Annual Door Decorating Contest for #LGBTSTEM Day on July 5. Our goal was to raise awareness and support of diversity and inclusion in STEM (and of course, to win a ‘door’ prize – *cue the drums*)!

Thank you so much to all ten of the groups who decorated their doors! The department halls were very bright, and you put up some very creative and chemistry-filled displays. Thank you also to everyone who participated by voting on the awesome doors! The competition was tight, but our winning door belongs to the Serpe Group!

Most of the door decorations are still up, so if you missed seeing the decorated doors, don’t forget to take a wander to the Serpe, Lundgren, Vederas, Rivard, Styler, Veinot, Michaelis, Gibbs, Harynuk, and joint theoretical chemistry group offices!

As always, UAlberta WIC is dedicated to increasing visibility and support for under-represented groups in Chemistry – if you have an idea for an event or initiative, please reach out to us!!