Thursday, October 11, 2018

“Voyage to Mars: Red Planet Chemistry” Comes to Reynolds

Here we go marching to Mars
On a rainbow bridge, it don't seem so far
Steppin' into our universe
Moving towards life to solve the problems on Earth
Is there life in the universe?
(Yes, there's life in the universe)
We'll find life in the universe

-from Marching to Mars, by Sammy Hagar

“Science Fiction often pulls Science into the future. How many times have we romanticized about travel to Mars? Is it humanly, physically possible? What are the realities?” Reynolds Chemistry Professor Dr. Ann Sullivan poses these questions. On Tuesday, October 23 at 6:45 p.m. Reynolds science students, and anyone interested in the topic, will have a rare opportunity to get some answers. 

On that night Reynolds will host “Voyage to Mars: Red Planet Chemistry,” an International webinar offered by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Experts in chemistry, planetary geology, and aeronautical engineering will give presentations and field audience questions on subjects ranging from information gathered by the Curiosity Rover to what scientists currently know about the realities of space travel and sustainability. Dr. Sullivan has made this event possible through her membership and long years of dedicated service to the ACS.

Dr. Sullivan is passionate about providing her students with learning experiences. That’s why she started hosting these ACS webinars. The first of these was “The Chemistry of Sports.” Only 15 students attended, but that didn’t discourage Dr. Sullivan. Then came “The Opiate Crisis.” Attendance soared to 120. Then last fall, “Chemistry Rocks! Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals” and over 100 came to rock with the experts. 

“It just got bigger and bigger,” said Dr. Sullivan. It was clear: these webinars weren’t just boring presentations, but unique opportunities to connect with fascinating people far outside the galaxy of Richmond, Virginia. 

Dr. Sullivan is pleased. “In the last two webinars Reynolds has been one of the largest community college sites. For those programs, our attendance beat out VCU’s. Of the more than 100 Virginia sites for the last program, Reynolds was the ONLY community college site, right there alongside Longwood, Mary Washington, VCU, W&M, and JMU.” Now THAT is impressive. 

In the 25 years Dr. Sullivan has been teaching at Reynolds she has witnessed changes in students, faculty, staff, administration, buildings, and in the City of Richmond. Her years of experience have made her a keen teacher and innovator. She knows education today must be more than periodic tables and labs. For example, she exposes her students to the benefits of membership in professional societies like ACS where they can make meaningful contacts, find resources, and land interviews with big companies. She is intent on broadening their horizons along with their chemical knowledge.

“Voyage to Mars: Red Planet Chemistry” will be held in the Lily Pad (Room # 138 – under the stairs), in the Massey Learning and Technology Center on the Parham Road Campus on Tuesday, October 23. A Preshow will open at 6:45 p.m., the webinar and information sessions begin at 7 p.m. Pizza will be served. The event is free and open to the public, no RSVP is required. 

Don’t miss this chance to find out whether life on Mars is for you.