High school girls visit SFU for Women-in-Chemistry Day

High school girls visit SFU for Women-in-Chemistry Day

The Chemistry Department hosted Women-in-Chemistry Day on Nov. 9, welcoming 29 high school girls to campus for the event.

SFU female chemistry faculty and students discussed their research, shared information about their careers, and served as tour guides at the event.

The day included two sessions of five stations, with 10-minute chemistry activities. Seniors Jessica Schulte, Kayla Grasso, Hannah Boyd, Grace McKernan, Kelsey Patterson and Megan Snider; junior Michelle Karpinsky; and sophomore Ivory Krise all conducted sessions.

Chemistry faculty members Michele Hargittai, Rose Clark and Samantha Radford also conducted sessions with the visiting students.

Roundtable discussions allowed those in attendance to meet and talk to chemists in small, informal sessions. Clark and fellow SFU chemistry faculty member Erika Varner participated in the roundtable, as well as SFU alumna Kate Knorr (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Jennifer Weyant (New Pig Corporation) and Diane Gormley, a retired manager at the Albermarle Corporation.

Knorr delivered the keynote address at the event. She told the students she wanted to become a chemist because of the television show CSI.

After graduating from SFU, Knorr earned her master’s degree and applied for an internship with the FBI. She was placed in the latent fingerprint unit.

Knorr later accepted a computer position at the FBI. She currently works as the next generation identification program manager of the latent print units for the FBI Laboratory.

“She was very relatable in everything she talked about,” said Karpinsky. “She wasn’t afraid to tell us, straight up, she wasn’t a fan of chemistry, but knew she needed the chemistry to reach her goal.

“It made it relatable and personable.”

Karpinsky’s research station highlighted the atomic force microscopy (AFM) research that she is conducting with chemistry professor Ed Zovinka. She showed the visiting students how the AFM microscope can be used to study surfaces on the nanoscale, using a calibration grid standard.

Karpinsky is studying how acid and metals from acid mine drainage (AMD) affect calcite surfaces. Her work includes testing calcite at different concentrations and pH levels to see what aluminum does on a calcite surface.