East Central Illinois ACS conference gives undergraduates opportunity to share research

Jennifer Tasneem

After two years of virtual conferences, the annual East Central Illinois ACS Undergraduate Research Conference returned to an in-person format on Nov. 12, 2022, at the Illini Union on the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign campus.

Several Illinois chemistry students delivered oral and poster presentations about the research projects they have been part of as undergraduate researchers in Department labs. The presenters were Aidan Lindsay, Zhuoran Zhong, Matthew Dake, Hunter Carrell, Isaiah Lopez, Megan Murphy, Qasim Sikander, and Zoe Wachtel.

The conference is co-sponsored by the East Central Illinois local section of the American Chemical Society, the UIUC ACS Undergraduate Student Chapter, the ECI Women Chemists Committee at UIUC, the ECI Younger Chemists Committee, and the SACNAS and Friends Chapter at UIUC and provides undergraduates involved in research in the chemical sciences an opportunity to present their research through oral and poster presentations. It also offers networking opportunities with conference sponsoring organizations and a keynote address. This year, Jennifer Tasneem, Career Services Coordinator for the School of Chemical Sciences at UIUC, was the keynote speaker: “From College to Career: Opportunities in the Chemical Sciences and Beyond.”

As the Career Services Coordinator at the School of Chemical Sciences, Tasneem provides support for undergraduate students, graduate students and postdocs in navigating various aspects of career exploration and professional development.

"The best part about working with students is seeing how they grow academically and as individuals during their time at Illinois," Tasneem said. "As a former international student myself, I especially love to hear the varied snippets of stories that students share about their experiences and cultures. Being a small part of their journey and seeing students get to their end goals is enormously gratifying."

At the conference, Tasneem shared the wide variety of opportunities that are open to students in the Chemical Sciences – from research to working in industry to pursuing higher education. She also described the skills necessary to be successful in the field, how students can use their time in college to hone their skills, and shared different types of graduate degree programs and how to decide between pursuing higher education versus working after graduation.

Tasneem received her B.A. in Chemistry from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts then her M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University where she joined Professor Lara Estroff’s lab to develop new semiconductor oxide/plasmonic

nanoparticle heterostructures. Her interest in career advising began during her undergraduate years when she was a Peer Career Advisor at the Career Development Center at Mount Holyoke.

Even during her graduate studies, alongside academic research, Tasneem was a Graduate Peer Advisor at the Engineering Career Center at Cornell University where she spearheaded advising sessions for graduate students in the College of Engineering. Tasneem strives to support and equip students with resources for lifelong academic and career success and is extremely passionate about empowering students in STEM.

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