SAACS awarded grant for work with Waukegan schools

The national American Chemical Society (ACS) recently approved a grant proposal submitted by Lake Forest College’s Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) organization.

ACS is celebrating 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry by awarding student chapter grants that seek to promote their goals of increasing the interest of the public and young people in chemistry.

Lake Forest SAACS members proposed creating an educational outreach program in collaboration with Waukegan public middle school districts that is designed to show underprivileged children the utility and need for studying chemistry.

“When you study in a classroom, especially a middle school classroom in a high-need school district, it is simply not the same as actively doing it in the field,” said Maria Zawadowicz `12, who wrote the grant proposal. “We wanted to provide that experience for the Waukegan kids.”

While at Lake Forest, Zawadowicz has helped research and develop better ways to optimize testing for air samples. She presented her poster “Method optimization for non-equilibrium solid phase microextraction sampling of HAPs for GC/MS analysis” alongside graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and principal investigators from leading institutions at the American Geographical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco this past December. Her work and its quality also has been acknowledged by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, which awarded her a grant-in-aid of research that partially funded her summer work and nominated her for membership at the national level in the summer after her sophomore year.

Zawadowicz still finds time to focus on the College’s volunteer initiatives and outreach to neighboring communities. SAACS plans on starting their work in Waukegan this spring.  They will be training the middle school students how to use their water quality equipment to collect water samples, then take the students on several field trips to surrounding harbors to collect data, and then help interpret their results.