Q: How do you ensure a smooth officer
transition from year to year?
A: During the spring, our chapter holds elections for the new officers in time for the new
officers to facilitate a general meeting with
the assistance of the present officers. Previous officers meet with new officers and brief
them on their duties and give them a binder
with materials and documents needed to
keep the officer running smoothly.
Q: Do you have any unique positions?
A: We have a historian, a demonstration coordinator, and a webmaster. These positions
handle the most important parts of our
mission, which involve community involvement and promotion. The demo coordinator
communicates with community members
and finds opportunities to spread the love of
chemistry through our area schools.
Q: How do you celebrate National
Chemistry Week? Chemists Celebrate
A: For NCW we hand out buttons and flyers
to promote the upcoming NCW events.
Our favorite activity is the “make your own
mole/mole T-shirt” competition. On Earth
Day we plant trees around the periphery of
a schoolyard at a local elementary school.
Q: In what ways does your chapter give
back to the community?
A: Our main focus is community outreach.
Through classroom visits and involvement
Q: What types of activities do you
in school district science nights, our organi-
zation aims to help elementary and junior
high school students maintain their natural
A: During exam weeks, we sponsor and conduct two organic chemistry review sessions
for the sophomore students taking the
exam. We also sponsor a chemistry triath-lon each year for local and regional high
school students and a full-service and free
chemistry tutor room that typically handles
4000–4500 student visits a year.
Q: Do you collaborate with other clubs
on campus on activities?
A: We work closely with two sister organizations: the teachHOUSTON Student Society
(tHSS) and the Pre-Pharmacy Association
(PPA). We recently conducted a “Pie your
Prof” event in which students could throw
a whipped cream pie at their chemistry professor, and our advisor.
Q: What is your most successful
fundraiser to date?
A: Almost all of our funds come from sales
within our ACS store, which is run out of our
tutor room. We sell items needed for undergraduate chemistry laboratory classes and
review materials for organic and physical
chemistry courses. This is our most successful, and longest-running, fundraiser and has
run since our inception.
Q: Describe a special project the chapter
recently did or is now doing.
A: We are going to train at least 25 members
in the demonstrations that our chapter conducts around the city. This way, our officers
will have much more help in conducting
these events and our members will gain
valuable experience in community service.
We are also conducting periodic small-group
trainings. We currently have 12 trained
Chapter president: Aaron Pontifes Number of chapter members: 139 Number of ACS student members: 46
www.acsatuh.com Institution description: Large, public, urban, minority-serving, 4-year institution
Simon Bott, 12 years
Q: Why did you become a faculty
Bott: I became the undergraduate advisor and it was a natural inclusion. I think
the most important part of our positions
at a university is to mentor and interact
professionally with students. Being chapter advisor was and is a wonderful way in
which to do this.
Q: What has been the most
rewarding aspect of your service as
a faculty advisor?
Bott: The development of our students
in general. One specific student always
stands out. She got a C in the first half
of general chemistry and was going to
become a business major (from pre-med). Through class initially and then
involvement in the ACS chapter, she
became a chemistry major, became president of the group, and is now finishing her
Ph.D. in chemistry in a top- 10 department.
Q: What advice can you offer to
those new to the advisor position?
Bott: Remember that the students are
18 to 22 years old. They need to grow
and develop as people and as chemists.
You can’t expect them to be as respon-
sible as your colleagues. You also have to
appreciate that the year-to-year change
in students and levels of involvement
mean that you cannot ever rest on your
laurels. The UH student chapter provides a free tutoring program to students, and the tutor room
typically receives 4,000– 4,500 student visits a year.