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November 14, 2008

Science Conference Hosted at St. Francis College

SFC Hosts Northeast Conference for National Organization of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)

More than 125 academics, professional scientists and experts came to St. Francis College November 14 and 15 to help draw attention and spark interest in the sciences across the region as part of the 2008 Northeast Regional Meeting of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

"We had a tremendous collection of people here sharing ideas and research, including NOBCChE President, Dr. Victor McCrary of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and many other members of the board." said St. Francis College Chemistry & Physics Assistant Professor Filomena Califano, who also organized the conference. "Our students had amazing exposure to professionals in the fields they are studying to enter. Now many of the students will be following up to earn internships for this summer."

"It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to interact with professionals at the frontiers of science through poster presentations and talks," added St. Francis Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Physics Gerard Davidson. "It gave our students an idea of the intellectual vigor required when presenting scientific data and reminded them that they can also have fun doing it. I think our students acquitted themselves exceptionally well." Dr. Davidson also spoke during a panel aimed at increasing the popularity of the sciences among younger generations.

The mission of the conference was to expand the horizons of science by promoting an increased interest among minority communities in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering. But the conference also including presentations in other fields such as Physics, Biology and Mathematics and sought to bring together scientists and students from all ethnicities, cultures and ages.

One way this was accomplished was by bringing a group of 60 high school students to the conference. These students were shown the many educational and professional opportunities available to them if they decided to pursue a career in the sciences. Specifically, they were given a tour of the College and told about generous financial aid packages that can make a private college education affordable to anyone.

Dr. Kathleen Nolan, Chairwoman of the St. Francis Biology Department, in addition to working out much of the logistics for the conference also delivered an inspiring introduction Saturday morning on behalf of AWIS (Association of Women in Science) based on her own personal experiences as a woman in the sciences.

Biology Professors Dr. Steven Lipson and Dr. Irina Ellison presented their research in the session, Chemistry, an Interdisciplinary Science while St. Francis undergraduate students and alumni presented their research during an exclusive symposium.

Leah Kovenat, who supervises the laboratories at the College, conducted a tour of the Chemistry labs and along with her students demonstrated several of the experiments conducted there.

Conference attendees were able to take in a variety of other speakers during the two days, including Friday's Keynote Speaker, Virginia McNeil Montague, President of the New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women, who spoke about the reality of the real world at work. Terrence Buck of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Moses Koffi (NASA Proyecto) spoke about the importance of inspiring future generations to take up the mantle of scientific research. Saturday's Keynote Speaker Dr. Jose Rodriguez of Brookhaven National Laboratory presented his research into clean hydrogen and fuel-cell efficiency.

The NOBCChE Northeast Conference was hosted by the St. Francis College Chemistry & Physics Department and sponsored with generous support from Rohm & Haas, Brookhaven National Laboratory & St. Francis College.

Photographs: 1 - (L to R: St. Francis Graduate Michael Estrella, Dr. Jose Rodriguez & Terrence Buck)
2 - (High school students with Dr. Victor McCrary)

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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