Chemistry across the continents

Fourth year student Christine Dunne loves to travel. During high school she spent two months in China while her mother taught accounting. Later the family ventured to Thailand, laying the ground work for wanderlust that propelled Dunne to explore nine countries on a backpacking trip through Europe last summer.

Unfortunately, her major is chemistry, a career not typically associated with travel. But the American Chemical Society is trying to establish a wider international presence, said Dunne. They recognize, as many others do, that the world is a small place with complex problems. Until we learn to talk to each other, across cultures and languages, many of them will go unaddressed.

Last year, while attending a Young Chemists Conference in Fort Worth Texas, she was invited to further that effort by representing the United States at the International Conference for Young Chemists in Jordan. Over twenty countries were represented, including Israel, Palestine, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Each country sent one undergraduate and one graduate student.

While in Jordan, Dunne presented research she carried out as a co-op at Novartis, identifying metabolites of an anti-nausea drug that has not yet been approved for use in the States. The international group of students also toured the campus labs at the University of Jordan, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. Dunne was surprised by the lack of some basic safety equipment that she takes for granted here in the States, like latex gloves and eye goggles.

While she enjoys research, this experience opened her eyes to the possibility of getting into management, perhaps at the American Chemical Society, educating people around the world in safe chemical handling techniques and establishing guidelines that ensure the protection of both researchers and the environment. Since she will never give up traveling, this may just be a good way to marry her two interests.

Dunne has excelled here on campus as well, serving as president of the ACS chapter as early as her second year, an unprecedented feat for such an active student organization. During her tenure, the chapter has won three awards, most recently the green chemistry award, from the national organization.