Building community as part of working on a project is one of Laura Pence’s trademarks. Her skills in this area were amply demonstrated in her role as the Thematic Program Chair for the spring 2010 national meeting in San Francisco. The most inclusive and extensive thematic program to date, “Chemistry for a Sustainable World” encompassed programming for high school teachers and undergraduates as well as programming by graduate students and 26 divisions including the Division of Chemical Education.
Her educational and professional interests similarly facilitate learning communities, whether by linking courses through first year interest groups or through sustaining the mentoring program for junior faculty at the University of Hartford, where she is a Professor of Chemistry. Online community building tools, familiar because of YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr, have also been adapted to enhance students’ chemical information literacy skills and to train students to assess electronic resources for quality and bias. Using these utilities as tools, not toys, Laura has engaged the interest of students ranging from non-science majors through senior inorganic students and graduate level environmental students.
Laura’s participation in the Division of Chemical Education has included seven years of service on the Division’s Program Committee and service as a Meeting Co-Chair for the divCHED programming at two national ACS meetings as well as organizing several symposia. She is also a member of the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement where she serves on the Education subcommittee and works on strategies to incorporate and recognize environmental sustainability across the chemical curriculum.
Laura received her B.S. in Chemistry from Lebanon Valley College, her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Michigan State University and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT. In 2006, she received the Roy E. Larsen Award at the University of Hartford for a career of Outstanding Teaching.