Women Chemists of Color Luncheon

With support from the National Science Foundation*, the American Chemical Society (ACS) hosted a Women Chemists of Color luncheon program at the 66th Southwest/62nd Southeastern Regional Meeting of the ACS in New Orleans.

The luncheon program featured a diverse panel of speakers to broaden awareness of challenges for women of color found at the very specific intersection of gender and ethnicity. Learn more about ACS Women Chemists of Color initiatives.

Luncheon Program

Friday, December 3, 2010 — 12:30 pm
Hilton Riverside Hotel, River Room — New Orleans, LA

Welcome Remarks
Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D., ACS President

Closing Remarks
Gloria Thomas, Ph.D.


Speaker Biographies

Shanadeen Begay
Graduate Student, Department of Chemistry, Boston University

Shanadeen Begay is a DinÉ (Navajo) woman from the southwest who develops theories and writes computer code as a Computational and Theoretical Chemist at Boston University. Her main project is focused on modeling protein systems, such as Methionine Enkephalin, to understand protein folding and binding in modified molecular dynamics simulations with enhanced sampling techniques developed in the Keyes Lab.

One of her main tasks as a graduate student organizer is advising for the Boston University Native American Student Association and participating in the American Chemical Society Younger Chemists Committee diversity initiatives. These roles allow her to explore the societal implications of gender and ethnicity as they affect the academic settings within which she and other minorities must effectively communicate.

Julia Chan
Professor, Department of Chemistry, Louisiana State University

Julia Chan attended Baylor University where she earned her B.S. in Chemistry in 1993. She then pursued a Ph.D. in Chemistry at UC Davis working with Professor Susan M. Kauzlarich working on transition metal zintl phases where she discovered a new family of magnetoresistance materials. After graduating in 1998, Dr. Chan was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Materials Science and Engineering Lab working on dielectric materials. Dr. Chan began her career in fall 2000 in the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University (LSU), where her research has focused on the crystal growth of novel intermetallics and oxides. Her many awards include a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities, an NSF Career Award, an American Crystallographic Association Margaret C. Etter Early Career Award, a College of Basic Science Graduate and Teaching Award, an LSU Distinguished Faculty Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, an American Chemical Society Exxon Mobil Faculty Fellowship in Solid State Chemistry, and she is one of twelve profiled in the 2002 C&EN “Women in Chemistry” series, highlighting women making an impact in the chemical sciences.

Sabrina Lewis
Information Specialist/Technical Researcher for Research and Development, Albemarle Corporation

Mrs. Sabrina Lewis has worked for Albemarle Corporation for 3 years as an Information Specialist supporting Fine Chemicals, Polymer Additives, and Catalysts divisions. Her area of focus is technical research for the R&D team. Prior to Albemarle, Mrs. Lewis worked for Ferro Corporation as a technical support chemist for 9 years working in the areas of Electrolytes, Glymes, and Catalyst. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and her Master of Science in Organic Chemistry from Louisiana State University. In addition, she has an Education Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Louisiana State University.

Gloria Thomas
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Xavier University of Louisiana

Dr. Gloria Thomas received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1996 from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA, where she was a Timbuktu Academy and Packard Foundation Scholar. She held several internships and also worked in the chemical industry for a brief period before earning a doctorate in chemistry at Louisiana State University in 2002 as a Louisiana Board of Regents and American Association of University Women Fellow. Thomas was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (2002–2003) and an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University (2003–2007). She is now an Assistant Professor at Xavier University of Louisiana.

Dr. Thomas is passionate about undergraduate education and broadening the participation of underrepresented groups in the chemical sciences. She has been active in the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) as a member of the Executive Board (2005–2009) and as chair of the National Science Bowl (2005–2007). In other work, she was a sub-committee chair of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Younger Chemists Committee and is the PI and 2007 Chair of the National Science Foundation Chemistry Division Leadership Group for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. In recognition of her experiences, she has received the 2010 Henry McBay Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring and the 2008 Outstanding Service Award, both from NOBCChE, and the 2007 ACS Stanley C. Israel Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences.

Dr. Thomas’ professional interests include bioanalytical applications of electrophoresis and microdevice technology, new technologies and strategies in chemical education and professional development among students. She also enjoys photography and iEverything, and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Linette M. Watkins
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Advisor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Texas State University-San Marcos

Linette M. Watkins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State University—San Marcos. She received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Trinity University (1989) and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Notre Dame (1996). After completing a postdoctoral appointment at Texas A&M University, she joined the faculty at Texas State in 1997. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanism of enzymes involved in the bacterial desulfurization of fossil fuels. She is actively involved in promoting early involvement of students in undergraduate research, and using undergraduate research as a tool for the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students in the chemical sciences. Over the last thirteen years at Texas State, she has mentored over 80 students. She is an active member of the American Chemical Society and has served in leadership roles in American Chemical Society local sections, divisions, and national committees.

Zakiya Wilson
Assistant Director of Graduate Studies in Chemistry and Executive Assistant of Strategic Initiatives, Louisiana State University

Dr. Zakiya S. Wilson received her B.S. degree, cum laude, from Jackson State University in 1998 and her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry, from Louisiana State University in 2004. In 2005, she took an appointment as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute University Program Coordinator at the University of Delaware, where she managed an undergraduate scholars program and provided academic advising to students. In 2006, she returned to LSU to lead the Department of Chemistry’s recruitment and outreach initiatives. Since that time, she has worked with faculty to dramatically increase the quantity and quality of domestic student population with the doctoral program. In 2009, she was promoted to Assistant Director of Chemistry Graduate Studies and was appointed as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives. Within the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI), she works collaboratively with the Vice Chancellor and program managers of OSI’s varied federally- and state-funded projects to increase and improve the educational experiences of students. She, herself, is the co-PI/collaborator of two state and one federally funded projects that support students in STEM disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels at LSU.

Beyond this, Dr. Wilson has a strong commitment to service. As a student, she was president of the LSU student chapter of National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and also served on the national board as the National Student Representative. She has chaired the NOBCChE National Science Fair Competition (2005–2008) and has supported the Timbuktu Academy Quiz Bowl Team of Southern University in Baton Rouge in 2009. She designed and implemented a tutorial program at a local church.

Dr. Wilson’s honors include the LSU Outstanding Staff Award, the Louisiana Board of Regents Graduate Fellowship, and the Board of Regents Economic Development Assistantship. She recently served as a co-organizer of the ACS Women Chemist of Color Summit in August.

*This material is based upon work supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under Grant #1027608. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.