Bridging Generations Through STEM

Candice Bridge - Chemistry Magazine

On September 22nd, the Renaissance Orlando hotel hosted the 2015 National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemist & Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) conference. This annual conference gathers hundreds of underrepresented chemists and chemical engineers each year, who participate in events such as career fairs, professional training workshops, technical sessions and more.

This year’s conference theme was “Bridging Generations through STEM”; they focused on the interaction between young scientists and the industry professionals. This conference was highlighted in the Chemistry and Engineering News Magazine, November issue. The magazine touched on the purpose of the conference, how it builds relationships and creates a sense of community for the attendees.

Candice Bridge, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry with a joint appointment at the National Center for Forensic Science, attended the conference and participated in one of the educational panel sessions called “STEM’s Impact on 21st-Century Forensic Science”.  The panel was comprised of academics from UCF and the University of Mississippi; STEMversity, a private company who teaches scientific skills in forensics at the middle and high school age; and federal agencies such as Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Postal Service Crime Lab.

The majority of the participants were students of all levels, wanting to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields. The goal of this panel was to introduce students to the necessity of a STEM based degree in pursuing a career in forensic science. This panel focused on educational and career opportunities for students from middle school through graduate school. The academics spoke about the educational career path for undergraduate and graduate students. The agencies spoke about their responsibilities in assisting criminal investigations and the type of scientific education required to obtain a job with them.

The Chemistry and Engineering News Magazine quoted Dr. Bridge saying, “Everyone always feels like you have to have a forensics degree to go into forensics science and that is not true,”. Dr. Bridge expressed that a basic understanding of biology, chemistry, and instrumental techniques will provide the necessary background for a forensic science career. “The thing with forensic science is it’s all about the science.”

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