Community Engagement

Advancing diversity in chemical science fields with ACS

Advancing diversity in chemical science fields with ACS

Education, PPG Foundation

A future materials engineer, an aspiring cosmetics formula researcher, a rising star in the biotechnology industry, and an advancing chemical engineer. Through the American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholars Program, PPG Foundation invested in the future aspirations of these four students in the 2019-2020 academic year and supported the Society’s mission to increase the diversity of chemistry professionals.

“The inclusion of diverse people, experiences and ideas leads to the advancement of chemistry as a global, multidisciplinary science,” said LaTrease Garrison, executive vice president, ACS Education Division. “The four aspiring scientists supported by PPG Foundation’s contributions will undoubtedly go on to shape their respective fields and advance the future of chemistry in our world.”

Pursuing chemical science degrees

Each year, the ACS Scholars Program awards academic scholarships of up to $5,000 to high-achieving college students from groups underrepresented in the field, who are pursuing chemical science degrees. They are selected based on their academic achievement, career objectives and more.

In addition to providing financial support, the program pairs these aspiring chemists with dedicated mentors and facilitates opportunities to help the Scholars explore different areas of the chemical sciences and gain the confidence to realize their full academic potential and pursue their professional dreams.

Since the program’s inception more than two decades ago, ACS Scholars have established leading roles as chemical researchers, professors, process and chemical engineers, entrepreneurs,pharmaceutical leaders and more, according to Garrison.

Meet the 2019-2020 PPG ACS Scholars:

Opeoluwa Abimbola is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Southern California. He is set to graduate this year. He is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Opeoluwa is currently interning for Micron Technology in technology development. He plans to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in materials engineering.

Destiny Durante is a senior at Pennsylvania State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She is the President and Social Media Chair for the Loving Our Curly Kinky & Straight Hair organization at Penn State and a member of The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). Destiny was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2019 and also received the Pfizer Award. Destiny currently works for Penn State as a cosmetic formula researcher. After graduating this year, Destiny plans to work for a cosmetic/personal care products company before earning a PhD in toxicology.

Amanda Hernandez is a senior at the University of California Berkeley, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Engineers for a Sustainable World, the Berkeley Investment Group, and the Hispanic Engineers & Scientists organization. Amanda currently works for the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) as an undergraduate researcher. After graduation this year, she plans to earn a PhD in chemical engineering or chemical biology before working in the biotechnology industry.

Michael Rivas Valadez is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of California Berkeley, and is set to graduate in 2020. He is a Senior Advisor and Media Chair for the UC Berkeley Student Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Michael currently works at Berkeley Lab as a research affiliate with the Balsara Group. His work entails “working in a dry box to create lithium pouch cells with different composition electrolytes for use in testing with potentiostat” and “using previously established test methods to characterize the transference number in a block copolymer electrolyte by measuring specific variables at different salt concentrations.” After graduation, Michael plans to enter the workforce before attending graduate school. 

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