The Chemistry of Creativity and Collaboration

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November 03, 2023

“Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

Students watch on as a Chemistry Department member makes ice cream with liquid nitrogen
The Chemistry of Creativity and Collaboration

Famously quoted, Helen Keller wrote, “Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.” Her words exemplify the collaborative work librarians do with students, faculty, staff, and researchers across Dartmouth and beyond. For two years running, one such collaboration continues to build awareness -  and appetites - for STEM at Dartmouth, National Chemistry Week. 

National Chemistry Week is a fun and engaging way to demonstrate the impact of chemical research in everyday life. The events hosted during this week connect Dartmouth’s Chemistry Department’s faculty and students with each other across disciplines and interests.

The goal of the week is to share our mutual joy of chemistry with the rest of the Dartmouth community. - STEM Librarian Dr Lilly Linden

Lilly joined Dartmouth Libraries in early 2022. Her love for the scientific world and her specialty as a herpetologist positions her as a champion and advocate for STEM research at Dartmouth. Building connections with students, faculty, and researchers is what brings Lilly joy, and National Chemistry Week was an opportunity she knew would help nurture those relationships.

Collaborating with the Chemistry department creates avenues for building deeper relations with the community. For a lot of people, the services offered by modern libraries are a bit of a black box. Events like National Chemistry Week give me the opportunity to connect with the Dartmouth community and have conversations about the services that Dartmouth Libraries has to offer. - Lilly Linden

As the event coordinator, Lilly’s Chemistry Department collaborators recognized her enthusiasm and contributions that made this week such a success. “This year, she was even more active and spearheaded the organization and logistics for the department to take chemistry demos and activities to a more central campus location where we were able to reach a much broader audience,” says Dr Anita Prasad.

students, faculty and staff participate in National Chemistry Week events
a student receives some homemade ice cream made with liquid nitrogen

National Chemistry Week events included making ice cream with liquid nitrogen - a theatrical crowd-pleaser. When a student asked Lilly why these demonstrations were happening and then heard what it was all about, they replied, “Well, every department should do something like this. I never thought of Chemistry as a cool discipline. This is so cool!” Other “aha!” moments came from students learning how artisans used gold nanoparticles to make stained glass in the 4th century. 

When asked about their perspectives on the importance of collaboration and the benefits of events like National Chemistry Week at Dartmouth, Chemistry Department members shared the importance of empowering students on their research journeys and elevating scholarship at Dartmouth. 

“It’s refreshing for me to go across campus and interact with faculty, staff, and students who I might not interact with otherwise. This helps us make new connections and learn from one another in meaningful ways.” Wendy Epps, senior Lecturer in Chemistry.

“Interdepartmental collaborations can push the envelope of science beyond the traditional limits of the fields individually. For example, someone developing a spectroscopic technique in the physics or chemistry department can collaborate with someone in biology or medicine to look at the biological processes. This mutually benefits both departments to learn from each other's complementary expertise, training students, and postdocs in diverse fields, and founding new niche areas of scientific research.” Mahima Sneha, Assistant Professor in Chemistry.

When asked why collaborating remains an important aspect of Dartmouth’s community, Lilly stated,

Working collaboratively across departments and centers will only improve how effectively the library and other campus partners continue to support our student and faculty communities. I hope that we keep trying new things and work on creating community-building moments whenever possible. 

 

*photos courtesy of Phoebe Yusen and Shefali Patra

National Chemistry Week events with Lilly Linden helping run an event
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