Mentorship is key to the program’s success in diversifying the chemical sciences.
Dr. Patrick Meier was the kind of mentor who could be in the hospital and would still want to take the time to catch up with his previous students, which is exactly the story Professor Kathryn Meier told about her late husband. “He actually always envisioned himself as a teacher,” said Kathryn when commenting on how Patrick would describe his profession.
Individuals and businesses are scrambling to find new ways to protect themselves from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. With this interest, the effectiveness of new technologies that promise to improve indoor air quality has taken center stage. University of Wisconsin–Madison chemists have accepted the challenge of evaluating those technologies and the work is moving quickly, thanks to the lab’s partnership with HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) specialists at Johnson Controls.
On Wednesday morning, more than 60 members of the Chemistry Department joined a zoom meeting to participate in the first Chemistry Conversation of the year. The event, organized by the Faculty and Staff Wellness and Professional Development Committee, included presentations from Professors Sam Gellman and Lloyd Smith about their work on COVID-19 research.
Vozza Professor of Chemistry Susanna Widicus Weaver arrived at UW–Madison in May to conduct research in prebiotic astrochemistry and on how life may form with the evolution of stars and planets. Weaver received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Illinois Wesleyan University (2000) and her Ph.D. in chemistry at California Institute of Technology (2005). She most recently was a professor of chemistry at Emory University.
Our public engagement programs reach large audiences in person, on the radio, in print, via television, social media and the internet. The Science is Fun truck traveled to schools, libraries, farmers markets, public parks and other community centers.
This year’s pandemic-induced online instruction did not stop students from enrolling in chemistry courses, but it did give instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) experience using a different instructional medium. “Teaching CHEM 344 online was definitely a unique experience,” said TA Maggie McEwan. “Teaching online requires a different set of skills compared to teaching in a classroom or lab, so I think I learned a lot this summer right along with the students.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a call to action for many within the scientific community. Long-time collaborators, Lloyd Smith, professor of chemistry, and Nathan Sherer, associate professor of molecular virology and oncology with the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and Institute for Molecular Virology, set out, along with their students, to contribute to the global understanding of SARS-CoV-2 by adapting the Smith group’s Hybridization Purification of RNA-protein complexes followed by Mass Spectrometry (HyPR-MS) technology to the study of SARS-CoV-2.
Prof. Samuel Gellman and his group have been working on strategies to prevent infection by pathogenic viruses for several years. They are now using that work as a launching pad for research on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
When COVID-19 first hit, many people hastily adopted work-from-home protocols. Trips outside were limited to grocery runs; suddenly, fruits and vegetables became synonymous with ramen and ready-to-eat food choices. Social lives compressed to the six inches of mobile phone screens. Facetime Fridays with steaming cups of coffee, arguably with three too many shots of espresso, became routine. Today, even with the pandemic running rampant, things are very different. Slowly people are participating in more in-person activities; however, often without a complete understanding of the risks.