ACS: When was your CGSO started and what were the circum-
stances surrounding its creation?
UCLA CGSO: The CGSO was formed in 2005 when students
and one of the department professors noticed that the retention
rate for traditionally underrepresented groups, especially within
the chemistry graduate program, was significantly less than that
of the other groups. In response to this observation they decided
to form our CGSO, which is called the Organization for Cultural
Diversity in Chemistry (OCDC).
ACS: How often does your CGSO meet?
UCLA CGSO: We meet monthly at our lunch seminar where
members present a short research talk along with their personal
background. These meetings provided a platform for members to
learn about the different kinds of research going on in the department and practice scientific public speaking in front of a supportive audience.
ACS: What are the goals and objectives for your CGSO?
UCLA CGSO: OCDC is a group of graduate students with a
vision and passion to lead and promote diversity in the sciences.
Our purpose is to provide an all-inclusive community of highly
educated individuals to advance to influential science related positions in industry and academia, while simultaneously mentoring
the younger generation of underrepresented minorities. Through
our partnership with Procter & Gamble, OCDC provides invaluable networking opportunities by providing student-organized
diversity seminars. We continue to build scale within our UCLA
chapter by implementing innovative and sustainable outreach
programs spanning K- 12 to graduate level education, while maintaining excellence in our research careers.
ACS: What are some of the main activities of your CGSO?
UCLA CGSO: Throughout a representative year, we are engaged
in many diverse activities:
1. Our quarterly seminar series, sponsored by Procter & Gamble,
involves OCDC members selecting professors based on their
scientific success and status as a traditionally underrepresented
minority to give a research seminar and a diversity seminar
at UCLA. The addition of a diversity talk gives the speaker a
unique opportunity to describe his/her journey to professorship and any hurdles they may have had to overcome to arrive
at their present position. This program has brought over 30
professors to UCLA and continues to be one of the most popular seminars attended by both faculty and students.
2. We are actively involved in the Los Angeles community
through our quarterly community college outreach day. This is
a day-long event where OCDC brings a group of community
college students to UCLA. The day begins with a session by the
Center for College Center Programing (CCCP) on transferring to a four-year college and offers insight into the “life of a
transfer student” at UCLA. Following this information session,
there are research talks given by UCLA undergraduates who
are active in research and were once transfer students themselves. OCDC then gives laboratory tours of the facilities and
ends the day with a panel of graduate and undergraduate students. This program was developed by our group two years ago
and has already brought in four community college groups.
3. We are also partnered with the Culver City Middle School and
provide in-class chemistry demonstrations to their middle
school students. These demonstrations are designed to supplement the science curriculum and relate the material the
students learn in class to physical experiments and real world
examples. This is a bi-annual event that allows OCDC members to engage in the K- 12 community in Los Angeles.
ACS: So far, what has been your most successful activity?
UCLA CGSO: Our Procter & Gamble seminar series has given
OCDC members unique and invaluable interactions with very
successful scientists. These opportunities have led to the development of strong mentor-mentee relationships, research collaborations and an extended network of professions in chemistry and
ACS: How do you raise funds for all of these activities?
UCLA CGSO: We raise funds through our industry sponsor-ship from Procter & Gamble, as well as get funding from university student organizations, and other university programs. We are
constantly exploring other funding sources including ACS.
ACS: What chemistry organization meetings do the members
of your CGSO attend?
UCLA CGSO: We attend many difference scientific meetings including the National Organization for the Professional
Advancement of Black Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) West
Regional Meeting, the National Society for Advancement of His-panics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
Conference and are actively involved in the Committee for Minority Affairs with the ACS.
Crystal Valdez and Steven Lopez
Number of Members or Regular
Number of Officers in the CGSO: 3
Proportion of the chemistry graduate student body
at the university that are CGSO members: 5%
Highlighting Chemistry Graduate Student
The UCLA CGSO – The Organization for Cultural Diversity in
Chemistry (OCDC), University of California, Los Angeles