The Texas A&M University Department of Chemistry is set to roll out the maroon carpet this week for two days of back-to-back symposia celebrating all things graduate student education, research, service and networking, graciously underwritten by private support and gifts of time from former students and industry partners alike.
On Tuesday (May 22), the department will play host to the inaugural Dr. Matthew A. ’82 and Patricia J. Harthcock Professional Development Symposium, followed by Wednesday’s (May 23) fourth annual Dow Symposium and Graduate Awards Ceremony. Both day-long events will be held in Texas A&M’s Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB), with special segments slated for adjacent facilities as indicated below.
The Harthcock Symposium is generously supported by an endowment established last June by Matt and Patricia Harthcock through the Texas A&M Foundation. The primary purpose is to fund an annual symposium that brings Texas A&M Chemistry former students back to campus to educate current graduate students by offering first-person insight into the wide range of professional opportunities available to them by virtue of obtaining a graduate degree in chemistry from Texas A&M. Other than a networking luncheon restricted to chemists, all sessions of the event are open to the STEM graduate student and postdoctoral communities at Texas A&M.
The Dow Symposium, which began in 2015, is funded primarily through the Dow Chemical Aid to Education Fund, one of many philanthropic initiatives sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company. Roxanne Jenkins ’10, an associate research scientist at Dow since 2010, the same year she earned her doctorate in chemistry from Texas A&M, is serving as the event coordinator on Dow’s behalf.
Tuesday’s Harthcock Symposium will kick off at 9:50 a.m. in the ILSB Auditorium with opening remarks, followed by panel discussions on transitioning into the working world, led by recent Texas A&M chemistry graduates now in academia and industry. After an RSVP-required luncheon for senior chemistry students at the University Club, the symposium will resume at 2 p.m. with concurrent academic and industrial career sessions, held in Room 255 of the Chemistry Building and the ILSB Auditorium, respectively. The two sessions will feature academic job-searching perspective from the Wooley Laboratory’s Dr. Rachel Letteri and Texas A&M chemist Dr. Holly Gaede, as well as firsthand experience in career trajectories, product development and lessons learned in the chemical industry from three seasoned Texas A&M chemistry graduates: Harthcock, INEOS Olefins & Polymers’ Mike Killough ’75 and 2016 College of Science Academy of Distinguished Former Students inductee John Beckerdite ’76. The day will conclude with 4:30 p.m. closing remarks and a brief reception in the lobby of the YMCA Building.
“I am delighted that Matt and Patricia have provided support for a unique professional development program in chemistry,” said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of Texas A&M Chemistry. “Their commitment to develop a platform to allow our graduate students to engage with representatives from industry and academia is greatly appreciated and will increase the competitiveness our students in the job market.”
Wednesday’s Dow Symposium features an expanded format that includes a morning of hands-on industrial professional development workshops, set for 9 a.m. to noon in Room 601 Rudder Tower. The series of three breakout sessions — culiminating in the Presentation 101 two-minute drill — is designed to help students better describe and promote themselves and their science, courtesy of direct feedback from former students regarding their resumes, interviewing and communication skills. As in years past, the afternoon poster session from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in the ILSB lobby will allow students to practice describing their research to industrial representatives, with the top presenters as determined by Dow representatives earning prizes. A reception in the ILSB lobby will close out the day’s events immediately following the department’s 4:30 p.m. Graduate Awards Ceremony in the ILSB Auditorium.
“We are thrilled that our former students from Dow have generously donated their time to participate in hands-on workshops that provide our students with feedback on their communications and interviewing skills,” said Dr. Joanna Goodey-Pellois, instructional assistant professor of chemistry and associate graduate advisor. “Dow has long been a valued partner of Texas A&M Chemistry and Texas A&M University as a whole, and this event is testament to that tradition of support.”
Harthcock, a native of Springfield, Mo., earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from Missouri State University and his doctorate in chemistry from Texas A&M under the mentorship of Dr. Jaan Laane. He has served since 2010 as director of engineering and quality for Ohio-based Schneller LLC, a TransDigm Company and the world’s largest supplier of interior laminates for commercial airlines and other engineered decorative materials with an ever-expanding array of custom applications. Prior to that, he was a research manager at Dow Chemical (1982-1997), a technology manager at GE Plastics (1997-2000) and a research and development director at L&L Products (2000-2010).
A member of the American Chemical Society, the Society of Plastics Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Phi Lambda Upsilon National Honorary Chemical Society, Harthcock has authored dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals and also holds several patents. He has served on the College of Science External Advisory and Development Council since May 2017 and also is a member of the Missouri State University Department of Chemistry Advisory Board as well as the MSU Foundation Board of Trustees.
“Patricia and I are honored to work with the Department of Chemistry to provide a meaningful professional development symposium for chemistry graduate students as they prepare to enter an industry rich in opportunities for exciting and successful careers,” Matthew Harthcock said. “Texas A&M provided me the strong foundation that continues to allow me to have a challenging and rewarding career. We are pleased to give something back in return to help support current and future Texas A&M students.”
To learn more about either event, go to the Texas A&M Chemistry Graduate Studies website or call (979) 845-5345.
Visit the Texas A&M Science Flickr archive to see photographs from the Harthcock Symposium as well as the Dow Chemical Symposium and Graduate Awards Ceremony, from the morning workshops and afternoon poster session to the awards grand finale.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Joanna Goodey-Pellois, (979) 845-7112 or email@example.com