Chem Department CSC WIDE Initiative Spotlight Videos!

Chemistry graduate students and researchers contributed to the Canadian Society for Chemistry WIDE initiative this year and put us on the map with their Spotlight videos!

The Working for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (WIDE) Committee is a permanent committee of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC). CSC WIDE works to create a fair, barrier-free chemistry community that understands, values, and adheres to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Spotlight Videos highlight individuals from the CSC community who identify as members of historically underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities/racialized groups, and of LGBTQ2+ communities. Spotlight videos are shared with science outreach organizations across Canada to provide the next generation of scientists with diverse role models. Spotlights are also compensated financially for their time and stories.


Chemistry Department Video Entrants

Dr. Blaine Fiss (part of Professors Ragogna and Blacquiere Research Group) - 2023

Dr. Fiss makes materials to clean contaminants from wastewater streams. He synthesizes α-aminophosphine oxide- and sulfide-based materials for metal sequestration. Those materials are then combined in a polymer to build the optimal filter that grabs all contaminants of interest. Dr. Fiss highlighted that improving accessibility in chemistry departments benefits everyone involved, not only scientists for which those accommodations are a necessity. He wished that not only universities and supervisors, but also manufacturers of glove boxes, spectrometers, and other chemical equipment would be more open to consider being more accessible. He also notes that conference poster sessions and presentations could be made more accessible by relatively simple, subtle changes, such as accessible font and colour scheme choices.

Robert Addai (part of Professor Hedberg's Research Group) – 2023

Robert Addai is a first-year Ph.D. student studying the corrosion and environmental effects of different road salts. His aim is to find the best and most cost-efficient road salt for Canada. He uses chemical, electrochemical, and material characterization techniques to study the corrosion of important infrastructure materials, both in field tests and laboratory tests. Because of financial constraints, he and his siblings could not obtain higher education. After learning a trait, Robert was finally able to finance higher education and come as an international graduate student to Western University. He wished that more students from Western Africa would get a chance in Canada, as he loves the equipment and opportunities at Surface Science Western and the Department of Chemistry.


Mria Chowdhury (part of Professor Hudson's Research Group) – 2022

Mria Chowdhury is a Ph.D. student modifying the building blocks of nucleic acids. She designs and synthesizes new nucleobase/side fluorophores with molecular rotor properties. As the only woman scientist in a team of 20 in India, she proved everyone wrong about what she is able to accomplish. She says that more women should be inspired to become and stay as scientists in chemistry. Learn more about her inspiring journey and equity work!

Ekrupe Kaur (part of Professors Hedberg and Biesinger Research Group) – 2022

Ekrupe Kaur is a M.Sc. student developing X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy peak models to study materials and understand their surface chemistry. Among others, she studies the surface of leather and the oxidation states of chromium on the leather. This is important to understand if and when leather could pose a human health risk. She explains how she copes with the high stress levels of graduate school not to trigger her immune system. She wished that more professors would take on students with autoimmune conditions or disabilities, and that chemistry and lab environments in Canada and around the world would become more inclusive.

To view the entire video series, click here