2020-2021 RIW: Distanced but Connected: Academia and Community in the Time of COVID

RIW stands for Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Charles McCrory

Coordinators: Muru Zhou, Shamalee Goonetilleke

Topic Statement:

Since COVID-19 began spreading through the world, our daily lives have turned upside down and the instability has posed a huge burden to everyone. Graduate students are not immune to these effects and have been facing unique challenges related to research, job searching, mental health and much more. The feeling of being disconnected from our community has disrupted our previously established atmospheres of collaboration and unity, and the uncertainty of the future has intensified anxiety among students. To help with these issues, our workshop seeks to find a bridge for graduate students, especially those working in polymer sciences and engineering, to reconnect with their professional community through virtual social events and community outreach. At the same time, we seek to help students navigate the post-COVID job market by hosting two online panel discussions, an industrial seminar, and two online academic talks. All the events will engage graduate students safely and virtually. 

The ACS POLY/PMSE student chapter serves to organize and sponsor activities for students interested in polymer science, engineering, medicine and technology. Our student chapter is closely connected to the Macromolecular Science & Engineering (MacroSE) program at the University of Michigan. MacroSE is an interdisciplinary program associated with the College of Engineering, the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Physics, and the Department of Biologic and Material Science at the School of Dentistry. The ACS POLY/PMSE student chapter consists of primarily MacroSE students which are distributed throughout various departments. The MacroSE program does not have the resources of a larger department and,  thus, the POLY/PMSE student chapter facilitates many of the professional development activities for which that would otherwise not be directly available to our students.The activities sponsored by our ACS POLY/PMSE student chapter bring together students and faculty in multiple departments and fosters student interest in the polymer science and research. Our events also attract numerous students outside the MacroSE program who have interests related to polymers, engineering, and science. “Distanced but Connected: Academia and Community in the time of COVID” workshops will benefit students from MacroSE and also the whole engineering community.