Introducing the Margaret-Ann Armour Lecture Series

UAlberta student-led initiative kicks off new lecture series to advance diversity in chemistry.

Andrew Lyle - 10 January 2019

A new lecture series is honouring the work of a champion for diversity and continuing the conversation to further the cause. January will see the inaugural lecture in the Margaret-Ann Armour Lecture Series, with guest speaker Geraldine Richmond, as part of a student-led initiative to foster increased diversity in the field of chemistry.

The lecture series is being led by the campus organization Working for Inclusivity in Chemistry (WIC), and is named in recognition of Margaret-Ann Armour. In addition to Armour's research in hazardous chemical management, she has been a tireless champion for diversity in science, founding the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, and Technology (WiSEST) program, and continuing her work as associate dean of diversity in the Faculty of Science.

"In the Department of Chemistry, we have a few named lecture series-normally named in honour of an exceptional individual who has made an impact on the department," said Sorina Chiorean, a PhD candidate, co-chair, and co-founder of WIC. "We also have student-invited lecturers, and with the Margaret-Ann Armour series, we're combining both aspects, to bring speakers that students want to hear from on topics of research and diversity."

The lecture series will highlight both aspects, with each lecturer presenting twin lectures focusing on their scientific pursuits as well as diversity topics and the importance of inclusivity in conducting high-quality science.

"In the same way that Margaret-Ann Armour has pushed diversity forward in the department and the broader science community, we want to invite people who are conducting research and have made a similar impact in advancing diversity," said Meagan Oakley, PhD candidate and co-founder and co-chair of WIC.

Breaking barriers

The first guest speaker of the new series will be Geraldine Richmond, presidential chair and professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oregon. Richmond is also a member of of the Committee of Advancement of Women in Chemistry (COACh), an organization that aims to reduce career barriers to female chemists and develop support networks for female scientists in developing countries.

"It is well-documented that STEM teams and groups are more innovative and creative if they are comprised of members from different racial, ethnic, and gender groups," said Richmond. "Given all of the challenges that we face today, we cannot afford to waste talent or creativity. Diversity works."

Richmond's two lectures will cover her research on nanoemulsions, a cutting-edge application of nanotechnology with uses in the fields of pharmaceuticals, food production, materials synthesis, and cosmetics, as well as her work to advance diversity in science through COACh.

The inaugural lectures will be held on Wednesday, January 16th, and are open to all members of the campus community. For more information and to register, visit the WIC event page.

Want to learn more about the Margaret-Ann Armour Lecture Series? Check out the Working for Inclusivity in Chemistry website for more details. Interested in diversity initiatives at the University of Alberta? Visit the Faculty of Science diversity hub for information on groups working to empower women and foster diversity in science.