February 21, 2018

VSU’s Megan Slater Recognized as Emerging Leader in Chemistry Field

Megan Slater

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s Megan Slater recently received the 2018 Student Leadership Award from the American Chemical Society.

Slater, a chemistry major from Valdosta who expects to graduate in Fall 2018, was one of 15 students nationwide selected for the award. The accolade recognizes her as an emerging leader with “tremendous potential” in the field of chemistry.

“It was extremely validating to be chosen,” said Slater, president of the VSU chapter of Student Members of the American Chemical Society. “I have put a lot of time and effort into my student chapter and into the American Chemical Society in general. Receiving this opportunity meant the American Chemical Society saw the potential in me to become an even greater leader in my community.”

The award came with the opportunity for Slater to attend the 2018 American Chemical Society Leadership Institute in Dallas, Texas, in January. There, she participated in leadership development courses and built relationships with fellow student leaders.

“This experience gave me the opportunity to network outside my typical community,” she said. “Not only did I connect with the other student leaders, but I also met staff members and even the directors of the American Chemical Society. There were a lot of resources offered that I have been able to pass on to my members to help advance their academic and professional careers.” 

In addition to her work with the Student Members of the American Chemical Society, Slater serves as vice president of VSU’s Genders and Sexualities Alliance and works in the Academic Support Center — formerly known as the Student Success Center — as a general chemistry tutor and a supplemental instruction leader. She previously worked for two years in the Department of Chemistry stockroom.

Slater is a Zell Miller Scholar and a Valdosta Noyce Scholars Science Teacher Preparation and Retention project participant. She plans to eventually teach high school chemistry.

Slater performed paid organic research in Summer 2016 with Dr. Jenny Baxter-Vu, a former VSU professor. She has also done research with Dr. Thomas Manning, professor of chemistry at VSU, since Spring 2017.

Slater built a remotely operated vehicle and attached sensors to collect data on temperature, pH, and other qualities of water. She presented the research at the poster session of the 2017 VSU Undergraduate Research Symposium and at the 2017 Southeastern Regional Robert Noyce Connections Conference in Mobile, Alabama. She is continuing the research in 2018 by adding new wireless sensors with the ultimate goal of creating an activity for middle and high school students.

Slater also worked with fellow chemistry students in Fall 2017 to develop and patent a new method of synthesizing graphene, the strongest material ever discovered.

“Megan has very good grades, excellent research and work experience, and a long list of community service activities,” said Dr. Linda de la Garza, associate professor of chemistry and faculty advisor of Student Members of the American Chemical Society at VSU. “She is off to a great start as a leader, and her interests and abilities should be fostered.” 

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