CHEM 491-494: Department Seminar

Section 001-002-003-004, Course# 13063-13064-13065-13066; 0.0 Credit Hr. – Fall 2021


Time/Location: 11:00 - 12:00 R (synchronous instruction), Zoom (via Blackboard)

Professor: Dr. Maria C. Gelabert,

Office/Phone: 314A Sims Science Building/323-4939

Office Hours – M 12:30-1:30 (Sims 305 or Zoom, F 3:30-4:30 (Zoom) or by appointment

Prerequisites: Grade of C or better in CHEM 301

Registration Calendar (important dates for registration, S/U, graduation, etc.)

Seminar Calendar


Seminars play a critical role in science, providing a venue for public dissemination of scientific methods, results and advances.  Seminars also provide "networking" opportunities through face-to-face contact.  A typical seminar usually involves an introduction of the speaker, a presentation by the speaker followed by a time for questions and discussion.  The department typically seeks speakers from other universities, industries and government agencies to provide students with a broad perspective of the chemistry enterprise.  You'll likely be attending scientific seminars throughout your career (and/or presenting your own), regardless of your chosen field.     

Course Goals   

The goal of the seminar program is to give students opportunities to interact with scientists and researchers outside (sometimes within) the university.  In some respects, chemistry has a "culture" of its own.   Seminars often provide chemistry students a sense of this culture.  These interactions can lead students to consider careers not previously contemplated.  Sometimes, speakers set aside time after the seminar to meet with and talk to students in a smaller group or individual setting.  And sometimes, a student might learn about a summer or job opportunity...internship, fellowship, cooperative experience, post-graduate opportunity, etc.     

University Competencies

Winthrop University's faculty adopted a set of four University Level Competencies (ULCs) that describe the qualities our students develop during their Winthrop career.  It is easy to see that the seminar topics involve solving problems and developing written/oral communication skills.  However, you will also learn the responsibilities of chemists to the greater good of our planet and society, as well as the global nature of chemistry.  Within the discussions of the seminars, I think you will find this course fits well with all four competencies.      

Competency 1: Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems. This course asks you to take in relevant information from multiple viewpoints. The variety of seminars allow you to see broad context, examining how others think through and critically solve problems. 

Competency 2: Winthrop graduates are personally and socially responsible. In this course, you will learn about the perspectives of others, and reflect on your experience and learning process, giving you a greater sense of inclusion within the chemistry community, as well as broader scientific community. 

Competency 3: Winthrop graduates understand the interconnected nature of the world and the time in which they live. In this course, you’ll better understand context of discipline, and come to recognize your own potential career path in connection to other fields. You are engaging with your peers and other members of diverse academic, professional, and cultural communities as informed, active citizens.   

Competency 4: Winthrop graduates communicate effectively. This course asks you to communicate in written and online form, to interact with others and to practice writing organized synopses for the formal assignments.

Student Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, you will:

·      Have an understanding of how scientific seminars are presented.  

·      Understand the role of the seminar in disseminating scientific information. 

·      Have a broader understanding of oral presentation methods and skills.  

·      Develop a sense of the culture of the chemistry enterprise and its role in society and our world. 

·      Develop a wide appreciation of the topics that chemistry touches.       

Communication Expectations

For a general course or content-related questions, please first check the “Ask the Instructor” forum to see if any other students have asked your specific question. In the spirit of a learning community, students are encouraged to help each other by responding to questions from other students. For personal messages to the instructor or another student, use email rather than the discussion forum.

Course Communication

Plan to be “present” in the course by logging in regularly, updating your calendar as needed and completing all the online assignments by their due dates.

1.      It is essential that you use your Winthrop email account for communication in this course. I usually respond within 24 hours except during the weekends.

2.      If you have general questions that may be shared by other students, please ask them in the “Ask the Instructor” forum. If another student asks a question there, and you know the answer, feel free and encouraged to respond. The quality of the learning experience will be better for all if we act as a learning community and support each other.

3.      When interacting with your fellow students online, in discussion forums or on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, or via email, remember to communicate with the same level of clarity, professionalism and respect that you would practice in face to face communication.

4.     For backup purposes, compose messages and posts in a word processor, then copy and paste the message into the discussion or message.

5.     For private messages to the instructor or to another student, use email rather than the public discussions.

Student Responsibilities in an Online Course

Many students find that responsibilities for online courses differ significantly from traditional courses. The following statements outline some of your basic responsibilities for this course, developed as online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you believe you will have difficulty meeting these responsibilities, it is essential that we find a way to maximize your learning experience. Please be in contact with me about any challenges, and pledge the following:

1.     I will ask questions immediately if I don't understand the instructions or due dates for assignments.

2.     I will organize my time in order to complete my assignments in a thoughtful and timely manner.

3.     I understand that failure of technology is not an excuse for absences or late assignments.

4.     I will review the technical support information in the Blackboard Tutorials & Campus Resources, contacting support services as needed.

5.     I understand that there are other sources of technology for me to use if my primary source fails, such as libraries, campus labs, or friends' computers.

6.     I will participate fully in seminars by attendance, attention, and asking questions of the speakers to promote discussion, and contributing to Discussion Forums.

7.     I will log in to class regularly and spend an appropriate amount of time completing course materials.

Student Conduct Code

As noted in the Student Conduct Code: ''Responsibility for good conduct rests with students as adult individuals.'' The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in Section V of the Student Conduct Code in the online Student Handbook


Seminar is required for all chemistry degree programs.  For satisfactory completion of the course, you MUST: 

·      Attend ALL scheduled seminars for the entire time. (The point is to attend….) 

·      During the seminar, or during Q/A, questions can be written by Chat.

·      Discussion Board participation is required for pre-recorded seminars, and generally encouraged for live seminars.

·      For each seminar, a brief (one paragraph) summary of each seminar is required, except any grading done by Discussion Board. Electronic submissions are due no later than one week after the seminar.  Treat the summary as a “professional” document. (To see if you’re engaged….)       

Letter grades  

The course is graded S/U.      


You are expected to attend each class meeting for the full scheduled time. The seminar program is often key for development of future career opportunities.     

Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access

Winthrop University is dedicated to providing access to education. If you have a disability and require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 803-323-3290 or, Once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Disability Services, please inform me as early as possible in the semester.

Campus Resources for Online Learners

Students who are enrolled in online courses are entitled to the same campus resources available to on-campus students. These resources included admissions counseling, library, student services, and recreational facilities. A list of these resources is provided in the Blackboard Tutorials & Campus Resources, found in Blackboard.

Syllabus Changes 

I reserve the right to update and edit this syllabus as necessary, including assignments, seminars added/rescheduled, and policies. You will be notified immediately of any such changes.


Seminar Calendar  

Tentative Schedule (subject to change)



August 26


September 2

Brief Introduction (11-11:30)

September 9

Kate LaMonaca, Senior Scientific Recruiter, Life Sciences at Actalent, Charlotte, NC

Breaking into the Scientific Industry with Actalent

September 16


September 23



September 30

Expert Panel, Indoor Air and COVID Transmission (online event May 10, 2021) 

Exploring the Science of Humidity and its Impact on Viruses, their Hosts, and Human Well-being

October 7


October 14


October 21

Justin Crumrine, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, cbdMD, Charlotte, NC

Cannabinoids from an Industrial and Manufacturing Perspective

October 28


November 4


November 11


November 18

Dr. Jory P. Weintraub, Science Communication Program Director and Senior Lecturing Fellow, Science & Society, Duke University, Durham, NC

Science Communication to Real People in an Era of Fake News

November 25


December 2