The home of our school, the Molecular Science and Engineering building.
For chemistry professor Rigoberto Hernandez, peering into the world of molecules, nanorods and proteins is only part of the day’s work. The other part comes when he strives to encourage kids, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, to study chemistry. Now, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is recognizing Hernandez’s efforts by honoring him with the ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.
"I am very grateful for the recognition that the ACS Award has just provided. But I am most excited by the fact that it provides visibility to our continuing efforts in mentoring students broadly,” said Hernandez.
“It will also increase the awareness of our programs aimed at reducing any diversity inequities in policies or practices that may be adversely affecting academic chemistry departments around the country. This, in turn, will accelerate the pace at which we are able to move the conversation between chemistry and the social sciences in discovering and implementing practices to make chemistry departments more effective in teaching and research."
Hernandez works tirelessly to increase diversity in the sciences, as well as other disciplines at Georgia Tech. He serves this goal in a number of ways at Georgia Tech. He’s on the College of Sciences Diversity Council. In addition, he serves on Georgia Tech’s Diversity Programs Committee as well as the Vice President for Institute Diversity’s Faculty Advisory Board. But he doesn’t limit his efforts to those housed at Georgia Tech, he also serves on the Sloan Foundation Minority STEM Ph.D. Advisory Committee.
He’s currently leading the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) program at Georgia Tech. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy, this five-year, nearly $1.6 million effort, is aimed at increasing the representation of minorities in chemistry departments nationwide.
For Hernandez’s efforts, the ACS will donate a grant of $10,000 to an institution of his choice. He intends to direct those funds to Georgia Tech to support OXIDE. In addition, he’ll receive an award of $5,000.