Sizing-Up the Competition – A Report from University of Michigan Dearborn Chapter

By Amal Algahmi and Mariam Ayyash, University of Michigan Dearborn

DearbornLogoBack when I was a junior, at the end of lecture one day in biochemistry class, our professor called someone up to the front of the room. The guy announced that the Biochemistry Club was selling T-shirts and he had the forms if anyone was interested in buying one. I caught a glimpse of these T-shirts and I have to admit, they were eye-catching and pretty cute – black shirts with the classic Pac-Man game design on the front and a line that read, “All I ever need to know about biochemistry, I learned from Pac-Man.” That was my first encounter with our UAN chapter.

Fast forward to the end of that year, I was just starting to get my feet wet in a research lab on campus learning the ins and outs of doing PCR, running gels, and all of the other standard skills in a biochemist’s tool belt. My professor mentioned that a student named Mariam had expressed interest in working in his lab that summer.  Her name didn’t ring a bell to me. It was later at our Natural Science Department’s annual research presentations and awards ceremony that I first met my co-blogger. The two of us have been working in the lab ever since.

I’m bringing up these first-encounters because at one point in the universe, the two entities – the Biochemistry Club and Mariam – came together. She roped me into running for a spot on our chapter’s executive board. I think our conversation went something like this:

Mariam: “I’m running for President of the Biochemistry Club.”
Me (Amal): “Okay, I guess I’ll run for VP.”

And so, a dynamic duo was born.

In past years, our chapter has been moderately active, but this year it was no holds barred. We have a core group of eager members on our executive board and under Mariam’s leadership, we are on fire. Our main objective was to increase visibility of the chapter and the natural sciences as a whole on campus, and I can wholeheartedly say that we succeeded.

We kicked off the year with a science faculty and student social complete with nachos, bingo, and of course trivia. One of our vice-chancellors stopped by and proved that even non-scientists can be pretty stiff competition in a science trivia bowl. We then collaborated with our friends in the Chemistry Club to organize a day of science experiments called “The Magic of Science”.  We had more than a dozen interactive demonstrations (hydrophobicity, force and pressure, acid/base chemistry, you name it!) set-up outside in the main hub of campus.  And there was dry ice. Lots and lots of dry ice. So messy but so much fun. Everyone who walked by that day participated in the demonstrations.  Our chapter also did some philanthropic work and held more traditional speaker engagements, but the first two events are the ones that made our mark on campus.

This semester, we’re off to another great start.  We have more meetings scheduled, and are rebooting our popular Magic of Science event.  We’ll be hosting faculty from local graduate programs, and working with five other science student organizations to host a campus-wide trivia tournament. You could say we’re really competitive over here. We’ll definitely be bringing the competition to Boston this April when we present our research and UAN chapter activities posters. As Scar from The Lion King would say, be prepared.

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