ACs & yOu
it’s All about teamwork
BY THY HO-PHAM
Every ten years, a joint ACS Southwest (SWRM) and Southeast (SERMACS) Regional Meeting is held in New
Orleans, LA — and for the 2010 program, I
had the honor of serving as student chair.
Planning for the undergraduate program began far in advance, with a committee consisting of student chapters from
Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) and
Loyola University New Orleans (LOYNO),
and the Louisiana Local Section Younger
Chemists Committee (LLSYCC). The collaboration among the three organizations
took a little time to develop, but to successfully organize such a large event and
densely packed program, it was imperative
that we all worked together and pooled
Because of the event planning experience
our chapter at XULA gained from hosting
the undergraduate social at the 235th ACS
National Meeting in 2008, the SWRM/
SERMACS planning committee asked us to
help organize its undergraduate program.
We took on the challenge, knowing that
this meeting had the potential for high
attendance. From the outset, we knew we
wanted our program format to be similar
to undergraduate programs presented at
ACS national meetings.
The XULA student chapter recruited
volunteers from its student body to be the
planning chair and committee members.
Once we had a committed group, mostly
juniors at the time, we started brain-
storming theme ideas for the undergradu-
ate program — ultimately choosing the
“Art of Chemistry.” Having a theme gave
us a unifying element for planning and
made it easier to select program events.
For event ideas, we looked at previous ACS
at national meetings
and saw that there were
typically certain recur-
ring events, including
a keynote speaker and
programs with hands-on
activities. We developed
a plan that included
similar events in our
For instance, we requested a large
conference room at the hotel to house
the entire undergraduate program and
refreshments for breaks and social events.
We also communicated frequently with
the national ACS Undergraduate Programs
Office, who helped us with funding and
provided a staff member to assist during
our undergraduate program.
Once the chair of the SWRM/SERMACS
planning committee approved all our
events, we recruited more help from XULA
chapter members. It was challenging to
convince some students to commit time to
help us, because many of them were freshmen who had never been to an ACS meeting and had no experience with the work
that needed to be done.
Collaborating with others
We also sought help from other area universities that had active ACS student chapters. LOYNO and the LLSYCC both agreed to
join the Undergraduate Program Planning