Queensborough Chemistry Professor Receives the 2018 Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences

Published: June 26, 2018

Dr. Paris Svoronos of the Chemistry department at Queensborough Community College received the 2018 Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences, by the American Chemical Society. The award ceremony was held earlier this month at the 46th Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, P.A.

A long-time champion of students in the sciences, Dr. Svoronos has promoted diversity in his selection of research students. All six American Chemical Society Scholars awards in Queensborough’s history were designated to underrepresented minority students majoring in undergraduate chemistry-related disciplines. Two of them, Kevin Chavez and Marjorie Morales, are currently medical doctors; Nadia Aboley is a pharmacist; Rosa Rosales-Ronquillo, is a research biochemist; Sandy Enriquez is a biochemist and Daysi Proano is a forensic scientist. Both Barry Goldwater and four of five Jack Kent Cooke scholarship recipients in Queensborough’s history have been guided by him and his colleagues in the chemistry department.

Some 20 years ago, Dr. Svoronos instituted one of the first Undergraduate Research programs nationwide at the community college level. Many outstanding students have thrived in the program. His first research student, Sadiah Anwar, was the first ever community college student to present her scientific findings at the American Chemical Society-NY section (ACS-NY) Undergraduate Research Symposium in 48 years. In 2000, she proceeded to do the same at the National American Chemical Society Meeting in Washington D.C. Over the years, Dr. Svoronos has continued to expand undergraduate research in his department in conjunction with his colleagues to approximately 20-24 students annually who continue to present at prestigious professional conferences.

“It is a joy to witness my students discover their true potential as outstanding researchers, gifted scholars, and perhaps as future mentors to aspiring scientists. I always ask them to come back and address the next generation of students and convince them that they will be judged not by their beginning but by their post-undergraduate success.”

This spring six chemistry students were awarded National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) summer internships. Originally from China, Jamaica, India, Colombia and Guyana, these students are conducting undergraduate research at such exclusive institutions as the University of Pennsylvania, SUNY Binghamton, Columbia University and Vanderbilt University.  The award includes $4,000-$5,000 for an eight to ten week period, including housing and, in most cases, transportation and/or food subsidy. Since the first student awardee in 2005, Queensborough students have earned internships at  institutions  such as Princeton University (twice), University of Pennsylvania (three times), Binghamton University (nine times), Boston University, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State University, Cornell University (twice), University of Washington and Purdue University. 

“It is not enough to be an exceptional student with an outstanding G.P.A. Successful applicants for the summer NSF REU internship at well-reputed institutions must also possess a strong resume. Securing solid recommendations letters that go beyond a plain statement of doing well in a course are particularly significant. Award committees would like to see prior research experience evidenced by professional conference presentations.”

In 2003, Dr. Svoronos was bestowed the “Community College Professor of the Year” award by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation Award, the only Chemistry professor to be honored with this award until 2010. The American Chemical Society (ACS) has acknowledged Dr. Svoronos both locally and nationally. He served as the 2015 chair of their New York section after having served as the 2002 chair of their Long Island sub-section. Dr. Svoronos has been selected the last two years by the ACS national exam committee to draft the 2016 and 2017 exams, which are the first conceptual versions.

He has also been selected twice to co-organize sessions at the National ACS Meetings where methods for the retention, graduation and nurturing of diverse community college students towards STEM careers were presented by chemists nationwide. Dr. Svoronos has presented on this topic at this conference six times. He has served as the General co-chair for MARM 2008 and Program co-chair for MARM 2016. In view of all the above he was awarded the 2016 Ann E. Nalley Regional Award for Volunteer Service  and the 2017 ACS-NY section Service Award.

The Stanley C. Israel Regional Award is sponsored by the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs and recognizes “individuals and/or institutions who have advanced diversity in the chemical sciences and significantly stimulated or fostered activities that promote inclusiveness within the region”. Eligible nominees may come from academia, industry, government, or independent entities, and may also be organizations, including ACS Local Sections and Divisions. The criteria for the nominee selection require that he/she “must have created and fostered ongoing programs or activities that result in increased numbers of persons from diverse and underrepresented minority groups, persons with disabilities, or women who participate in the chemical enterprise.”

 

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