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First Class

ONU welcomes new chemistry honor society

As a signature academic program at Ohio Northern University, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is a leader in student success, undergraduate research and post graduate placement. However, until this past weekend, there was one area where it was conspicuously absent.

This year’s Honor’s Day saw the installation of the Pi Gamma chapter of the Gamma Sigma Epsilon chemistry honor society at ONU, the first of its kind for the department and the 44th at ONU. The chemistry honorary was founded in 1919 at Davidson College and seeks to “foster a more comprehensive and cooperative study of that great branch of Science.” The honor society has more than 40 active chapters nationwide.

The genesis of the chapter came from a group of students who felt the need for one after Honor’s Day festivities last year.

“The chemistry department here at ONU is really good, but we didn’t have an honorary. So after last year, some of us decided to look into what was possible,” says Zach Dunn, a junior chemistry major from Harrod, Ohio, and president of the Pi Gamma chapter.

In the fall, Dunn approached Dr. Catherine Albrecht, dean of the Getty College of Arts & Sciences, about the honorary and received her blessing to pursue it. Dunn and his fellow students spent time this year wading through the approval process, seeking a faculty sponsor, and writing the chapter’s by-laws and constitution.

“The establishment of the honorary society is, I think, a very appropriate step for us to be taking,” says Albrecht. “The aims of this association – to promote scholarship and interest in chemistry – are exactly the aims of the department and its students. It’s a very, very good fit.”

The installation ceremony featured remarks from Albrecht, faculty advisor Dr. Trilisa Perrine and Dr. Peggy S. Biser, the executive president-elect of Gamma Sigma Epsilon. When time came for the officer initiations, the ceremony took a somewhat whimsical turn when, with lights dimmed and candles lit, beakers of blue liquid began bubbling and frothing as Dunn was sworn in as the grand alchemist (president), Courtney Olson as the alchemist’s apprentice (vice-president), Lindsay Wiener as the keeper of the formulas (secretary), Allison McCarthy as the keeper of the solvents (treasurer); and Ryan Christman as the sergeant-at-arms.

In all, 15 students were inducted as charter members of the Pi Gamma chapter of the first honor society for chemistry and biochemistry at ONU. Even after these students graduate and move on to promising careers in their field, the honorary they created will remain for future students to ensure that Honor’s Day is a bit more special for those majoring in “that great branch of Science.”