An Organization with 70 Years of Strong Chemistry

By Frances Clause

Youngstown State University’s student chapter of the American Chemical Society is celebrating its 70th anniversary and National Chemistry Week with the theme “Chemistry is Out of This World.”

The ACS is a nonprofit organization and the world’s largest scientific society with over 158,000 members at all degree levels and fields of chemistry.

“The general topic for National Chemistry Week this year is outer space, and each year a different theme is designated at the national level by the ACS,” Saidah Yusuf, a junior biology major said. “Last year’s theme was ‘Chemistry Rocks,’ which focused on geochemistry.”

Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

Yusuf has been a member of YSU’s ACS since she was a freshman and is the historian for the organization this year. She takes pride in educating the community about chemistry with the group.

“Chemistry is important because it is everywhere and is branched out in all aspects of life,” she said. “Chemistry is involved in food, exercise, outer space — just name it, and there is chemistry involved.”

Yusuf takes pride in reaching out to the community with the hands-on experiments YSU’s ACS hosts at different schools in the Youngstown area. She said the demonstrations are a great way to show children how important chemistry is to everyday life.

Michael Serra, the adviser of YSU’s ACS for the past six years, said he is proud of the way students in the organization, like Yusuf, promote chemistry on campus and in the community.

“The YSU ACS is an active organization that does multiple chemistry shows and presentations throughout the year,” Serra said. “[The ACS] has volunteered for Silly Science Sunday, since it first started and hosts demonstrations at the Canfield Fair that draw sizable crowds.”

Along with the presentations and experiments, the organization also volunteers at Penguin Preview Day, the Rescue Mission and the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Serra said the goal throughout National Chemistry Week and the entire year is to make students aware of the positive impacts of chemistry.

“Chemistry is often referred to as the central science because understanding it is important to so many fields of science,” he said. “Chemistry’s contributions range from health to medicine and so much more.”

Salam Picard, a junior chemistry pre-med major and president of YSU’s ACS, said along with promoting and educating the community about chemistry, he is determined to make a bigger impact through the organization this year.

Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

“With the funds raised from raffle baskets during National Chemistry Week and the ACS’s T-shirt sales in the spring, the organization has been accumulating money in the account,” he said. “The YSU ACS has been looking into what to do with these funds.”

Picard said he wants to donate money to other organizations that promote chemistry and purchase science kits for schools in the Youngstown area.

“This new goal is important in shaping minds into realizing one does not have to be a chemistry major to recognize the impact chemistry has on the world and get involved,” he said.

From Oct. 22 through 26, the ACS is raffling off YSU and chemistry-themed baskets in Ward Beecher and Moser Hall. All students are also welcome to attend the 70th year celebration Friday at 3 p.m. in Ward Beecher, where the raffle winners will be announced.