Younger Chemistry Education Scholars Report, Spring 2019

YCES Asks for DivCHED Input on Recruitment into CER

The Younger Chemistry Education Scholars (YCES) has the mission of recruiting new students into the CER field and creating a network for those students. Traditionally, YCES has focused our efforts on the latter goal by hosting professional development, networking events, and a variety of activities with the goal of connecting CERers whether they come from large programs or whether they are the only one in their department doing CER. We are by no means abandoning this goal and will continue to put on these events. However, we would like to focus on an area that we have not traditionally put as much emphasis in the past; recruitment.

Thanks to DivCHED, YCES been able to operate a booth at the Spring ACS for the last few years that promotes CER to the undergraduates that visit the Graduate Recruitment Fair. We interface with 50 – 150 students through this channel and have been able to reach several chemists about the benefits of CER. Most of the reactions we see are in the tune of “this is really interesting; I don’t think I’ve heard of this kind of research before.” While we are happy to reach the students that we can, we feel that we can do more to actively spread the word about options in undergraduate, and postdoctoral opportunities in CER as well as CER in general.

YCES is particularly interested in the recruitment of new students into CER. As a recent article in JCE1 has demonstrated, CER has grown impressively, but at least 17 programs that once offered Ph.D. or M.S. degrees no longer do so. Spreading the word about CER and actively recruiting students is likely vital to its long-term survival, and younger members of the CER community feel this impact. Less CER programs means less opportunities for graduate work, postdoc positions, and faculty positions. Fewer people at conferences lead to less interactions and sharing of ideas, potentially isolating students further. I do not wish to come across as mongering fear, but do believe that young CERers particularly would benefit greatly from CER’s expansion and experience detrimental effects from its shrinkage.

This, along with a variety of other reasons, is why YCES would like to renew our interest in recruiting students to CER. However, YCES cannot (and arguably should not) do this by ourselves. Therefore, we would like to solicit the help of all DivCHED members as well as offer up our assistance to anyone with similar goals. YCES will be brainstorming ideas for how we can disseminate CER to chemists and recruit more students into the CER field. We have a google doc where we have been listing our suggestions that will be discussed at our upcoming meeting in Orlando (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NimA7VhWmG5No_Qy9YoD8pGAEL-t6koVsX7HmEDLPAw/edit) that all are welcome to provide their input. We will not likely be able to engage in all activities listed, but welcome any suggestions.

We fully understand that YCES is not the only party interested in this goal, which is why we would like to collaborate with anyone dedicated to recruitment and dissemination of CER. If you have activities in place and need foot soldiers on the ground to conduct them, please let me (Jordan Harshman, jharshman@auburn.edu) know what we can do to help. If you have ideas but don’t have the luxury of time to put those ideas into action, we are happy to help in anyway we can. And if in the future YCES decides to pursue various activities, we will likely be reaching out to you and we hope that you will consider helping us achieve our goal.

1Deborah G. Herrington , Ryan D. Sweeder , Patrick L. Daubenmire, Christopher F. Bauer, Stacey Lowery Bretz , Diane M. Bunce, Justin H. Carmel, Renée Cole, Brittland K. DeKorver, Resa M. Kelly, Scott E. Lewis, Maria Oliver-Hoyo, Stephanie A. C. Ryan, Marilyne Stains, Marcy H. Towns, and Ellen J. Yezierski. “Supporting the Growth and Impact of the Chemistry-Education-Research Community” J. Chem. Educ. ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.8b00823

Jordan Harshman
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Auburn University
268 Chemistry Building
harshmanresearchgroup.com

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