Professor Pamela Mertz, Associate Professor Kelly Neiles, and Assistant Professor Shanen Sherrer organized and presided over the symposium, “Becoming a Chemist: Integrating Professional Skills into Undergraduate Curricula,” at the virtual Spring 2021 American Chemical Society national meeting. This symposium included talks from five SMCM faculty members as well as other institutions. Neiles and Mertz started the symposium with a Call-to-Action talk, addressing the urgency of teaching professional skills with evidence from employers, graduate schools, and scientific societies. They each gave an additional presentation on aspects of the department’s professional skills curriculum along with Sherrer, Assistant Professor Daniel Chase, and Assistant Professor Geoffrey Bowers.
Mertz overviewed details on the curriculum and the process for scaffolding professional skills using backward design. Neiles provided details on a professional skills co-curriculum in General Chemistry, which focuses on mindset and learning strategies important to first-year students. Chase presented on career skills taught in Organic Chemistry lab, including writing resumes, cover letters, and personal statements. Sherrer talked about professional communication experiences in Biochemistry I using scientific poster presentations. To finish the presentations from St. Mary’s College, Bowers described an alumni networking program in Physical Chemistry I.
Many of the presenters in this symposium were also chapter authors of an ACS Symposium book that was published in December 2020. Both the ACS Symposium book and the corresponding Spring 2021 symposium are products from chemistry and biochemistry faculty efforts at St. Mary’s College of Maryland towards the CUR Transformations Project (NSF DUE #1625353).