Published: Feb. 10, 2020

Chemistry Club wins the 2020 ‘Battle of the Chemistry Clubs’ competition

Contact(s): Val Osowski College of Natural Science office: (517) 432-4561

Michigan State University’s Chemistry Club took first place in the 13th annual Battle of the Chemistry Clubs, or BCC, competition held Feb. 1.

The MSU Younger Chemists’ Committee sponsors the annual BCC competition to attract chemistry clubs from throughout Michigan. Held on the MSU campus, this year’s competition included 10 colleges and universities in teams of at least four students each. The BCC first began as a competition between UM-Flint and the University of Detroit, Mercy, in 2007.

"On behalf of the department, I congratulate our Chemistry Club champions,” said Robert Maleczka, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry in the MSU College of Natural Science, or NatSci. “This group of chemistry majors has shown a great esprit de corps and are terrific examples of students getting the most out of their MSU experience. A shout-out to the club’s advisor, Sheba Onchiri, is also most certainly in order!"

“I consider such competitions as one of the best ways to demonstrate students’ talents,” Onchiri said. “If we fail to provide these kinds of forums, some students may not discover their hidden talents and other skills they possess. Above all, these events help students build self-confidence, teamwork and other soft skills vital in the world today. I am so proud of the Chemistry Club and all they have accomplished in the short time they have been in operation. Go Legends!”

BCC events cover a full day. Competitive events in the morning include chemistry Jenga, a safety rules obstacle course, identifying elemental trivia in haiku poems and tests on International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, or IUPAC, knowledge. IUPAC is the unified system of nomenclature, measurements and atomic mass values for chemists. MSU dominated in all these categories and held first place after the morning’s events.

"Our expectation as we were waiting for the results of the morning was just to be in the top five,” said Natasha Perry, MSU Chemistry Club vice president.

MSU's club continued to hold its lead throughout the afternoon in the titration race and in timed events that tested students’ knowledge of density laws and regions of the visible light spectrum. The competition closed with jeopardy-style trivia questions on a variety of chemistry knowledge before moving on to the Final Jeopardy round and winning the competition.

“When we found out that we won, we were at first speechless,” Perry said. “I know that winning will allow our club to flourish and was an exceptional way for seniors to finish their last year."

A senior, Perry plans to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, with a focus on either organometallics or total synthesis. She is still deciding which graduate program to attend.

“I believe this success at the BCC will be very important for the future of MSU's Chemistry Club in attracting members,” said Austin King, MSU Chemistry Club president, who started the club in spring 2019. “Having fun and being passionate about chemistry is the club’s main focus; students will see the accomplishments the club has made and want to be a part of it.”

King will start graduate school in chemistry at MSU in the fall and looks forward to seeing new members help the club continue to grow.

MSU's Chemistry Club fosters and promotes passion for chemistry among students, who come from a variety of backgrounds and majors but share a common desire to expand their knowledge of the world around them. The club focuses on having fun and exploring chemistry topics rarely addressed in standard colloquia. Club members enjoy exploring some of the unusual as well as the practical applications of chemistry.

Chemistry Club members (L to R): Michael Schwanitz, Joseph Hendrian, Austin King (president) and Natasha Perry (vice president) displayed their extensive chemistry knowledge and unrivaled teamwork to bring home the gold for MSU! Courtesy photo.