University of Northern Iowa: Affiliates of the American Chemical Society

We are the University of Northern Iowa Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society. For our sake and yours, we simply refer to ourselves as “ACS.” As our name implies, we are student members of a national organization known as the American Chemical Society. Chemists in all walks of life align themselves with the national organization in order to keep tabs on new developments in the realm of chemistry, improve themselves professionally and spread the word about their research.

Being a part of the national American Chemical Society is especially thrilling for us as UNI undergraduates. First of all, our membership helps connect us with chemistry graduate programs, if that is the path we choose to take after our years at UNI. Also, many of us choose to conduct research. Any ACS members at UNI who conduct research and has their abstract accepted by the national society can present that research at the society’s national annual meeting, with nearly all expenses paid by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as ACS.

All work and no play makes ACS members dull boys and girls, though. No worries — ACS is not in danger of becoming dull anytime soon. For instance, we’ve recently begun an annual intradepartmental competition known as “MarCHEMadness,” held in the month of March. Participating faculty divide themselves into several teams and recruit chemistry students to their teams, all in pursuit of the most coveted of chemistry awards, the Golden Erlenmeyer. A series of about half a dozen competitions takes place throughout the month, testing team members’ titration, video game, athletic, pie eating and poker skills. You haven’t completed your chemistry education at UNI until you’ve lost all your chips to your Inorganic Chemistry professor.

When our professors aren’t kicking our tails in Mario Kart, they’re instilling in us a passion for chemistry. To share our passion, we host several outreach events annually. Freshest in our minds is this year’s Halloween House. We targeted elementary children and were rewarded with an attendance somewhere between 800-1000 guests on Friday, October 21. For our guests, we performed chemistry demos in several Halloween-themed rooms, including the Bride of Frankenstein’s 1-2-3 Superconducting Magnet, fire on the high seas, in the Pirates’ Cove and gun cotton and methane bubbles demonstrations in the Devil’s Den.

As our favorite ACS T-shirt says, “Trust us. We know what we’re doing.”