Chemistry across the continents

Fourth year stu­dent Chris­tine Dunne loves to travel. During high school she spent two months in China while her mother taught accounting. Later the family ven­tured to Thai­land, laying the ground work for wan­der­lust that pro­pelled Dunne to explore nine coun­tries on a back­packing trip through Europe last summer.

Unfor­tu­nately, her major is chem­istry, a career not typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with travel. But the Amer­ican Chem­ical Society is trying to estab­lish a wider inter­na­tional pres­ence, said Dunne. They rec­og­nize, as many others do, that the world is a small place with com­plex prob­lems. Until we learn to talk to each other, across cul­tures and lan­guages, many of them will go unaddressed.

Last year, while attending a Young Chemists Con­fer­ence in Fort Worth Texas, she was invited to fur­ther that effort by rep­re­senting the United States at the Inter­na­tional Con­fer­ence for Young Chemists in Jordan. Over twenty coun­tries were rep­re­sented, including Israel, Pales­tine, Pak­istan and Saudi Arabia. Each country sent one under­grad­uate and one grad­uate student.

While in Jordan, Dunne pre­sented research she car­ried out as a co-​​op at Novartis, iden­ti­fying metabo­lites of an anti-​​nausea drug that has not yet been approved for use in the States. The inter­na­tional group of stu­dents also toured the campus labs at the Uni­ver­sity of Jordan, which cel­e­brated its 50th anniver­sary last year. Dunne was sur­prised by the lack of some basic safety equip­ment that she takes for granted here in the States, like latex gloves and eye goggles.

While she enjoys research, this expe­ri­ence opened her eyes to the pos­si­bility of get­ting into man­age­ment, per­haps at the Amer­ican Chem­ical Society, edu­cating people around the world in safe chem­ical han­dling tech­niques and estab­lishing guide­lines that ensure the pro­tec­tion of both researchers and the envi­ron­ment. Since she will never give up trav­eling, this may just be a good way to marry her two interests.

Dunne has excelled here on campus as well, serving as pres­i­dent of the ACS chapter as early as her second year, an unprece­dented feat for such an active stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion. During her tenure, the chapter has won three awards, most recently the green chem­istry award, from the national organization.