Fifth-year honours chemistry student Sydney Acton has received the 2015 Association of the Chemical Profession of British Columbia (ACPBC) Undergraduate Student Member Scholarship.
The $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to an ACPBC student member enrolled in the third or fourth year of an undergraduate chemistry program at a British Columbia university. The student must also have strong academic performance in all completed chemistry courses and demonstrate service to the chemistry profession.
“I am very thankful for the recognition of my efforts to help build a strong community among chemistry undergraduates, professors, and teaching assistants at UBC Okanagan,” says Acton. “It is important to me to leave a positive impact on the chemistry community, but also to try and improve the experience of individual undergraduates. It wasn’t until I joined the Chemistry Course Union (CCU) executive in my third year that I really started interacting with my professors and building supportive relationships with students outside of class. The CCU was a catalyst that transformed my undergraduate experience. I’ve invested so much time expanding the CCU’s activities because I want it to benefit as many students as possible in the same way.”
“Very few undergraduate students are able to point to a deep body of non-academic activities that make a positive impact on their discipline as a professional practice or promote it as a valuable human endeavor,” says Associate Professor of Chemistry Stephen McNeil who teaches in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. “Sydney is president of our highly active CCU, which under her leadership has established an ambitious mission statement that includes not only academic support, but also professional development and community outreach to promote the role of chemical sciences to our students and the local community.”
McNeil goes on to describe Acton’s contribution in establishing the CCU as a student chapter of the Chemical Institute of Canada, a national organization for the chemical sciences. He believes joining the Institute will help transform the CCU from a campus-based student club into an organization with regional and national outreach.
“This is a remarkable achievement for a group of students in a relatively small program on a small campus, but is exactly in keeping with the kind of experiences and opportunities that UBC Okanagan provides to its students outside their regular classroom studies,” says McNeil.
Acton, who won an Irving K. Barber School Undergraduate Research Award in 2014 and an NSERC Undergraduate Research Award in 2015 under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Fred Menard, feels incredibly lucky to have had so many available undergraduate research opportunities at UBC Okanagan over the past two years.
“This campus provides research opportunities and experiences that are truly unique and personal. My research in the Menard Lab has shown me the ups and downs that I can expect in graduate studies, and has taught me the perseverance needed to reach my personal research goals.”
Acton is currently in the process of applying for graduate studies in the areas of organic chemistry and chemical biology.
Previous UBC Okanagan winners of the ACPBC award include: Afton Hiscox (2010), Cate Collins (2013) and Anis Fahandej-Sadi (2014).