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2019 Women in STEM Symposium

The Department of Chemistry hosted this year’s Women in STEM Symposium in conjunction with Pipeline Vols for Women in STEM. Activities included Career/Networking Fair, 5th Annual Women in STEM Research Symposium, Plenary Reception, Plenary Lecture, Q& A discussion lunches, and a Documentary Screening.

A special thank you to our keynote speakers:
Karen Lloyd, Dept. of Microbiology, UT
Heather Allen, Dept. of Chemistry, Ohio State University
Michelle Buchanan, Deputy for Science & Technology, ORNL
Rina  Dukor, Co-Founder & President, Bio-Tools, Inc.

The event concluded with a Speed Networking Meet & Greet for UT faculty, postdocs, and ORNL employees.

Awards were given out after the research poster session. The Department of Chemistry’s Paula Pimento and Avery Wood were just a couple that received an award for their impressive presentation. Paula’s research on “Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) Detection of Neurotransmitters” explored how current neurodegenerative disease diagnosis is highly invasive. By the time the patient develops symptoms neurons and their respective axon terminals have been lost in alarming numbers. Neurotransmitter decline in the brain is closely related to neurodegenerative disease. Hence, this calls for the immediate need of developing methodologies capable of in vivo analysis of low concentrations of neurotransmitters. Comprehending neurotransmitters quantities and functions in the brain is crucial to the scientific advancement in degeneration of nervous tissue. Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) can provide accurate detection in low concentrations paralleling those found in the brain. This innovative technique can potentially lay the foundation for the technologies that will lead to the progression of those suffering from these conditions to live a long and healthy life. 

For Paula Pimento, the women in STEM symposium was a motivating experience. She feels “The struggles women face in balancing their personal life and scientific career shouldn’t deter them from success in the field. Dr. Heather Allen is a revered scientist despite the fact that she started her career later on in life and this was very relatable to me. This symposium was very inspirational, but it also served as a reminder that nothing worthwhile comes easy. There will be failures, it’s what science is all about, but perseverance and hard work will get results”.

Pimento would like to thank PI Bhavya Sharma for her constant support and encouragement as well as Amber Moody for laying the groundwork in neurotransmitter detection.  

To view all of the photos from this event check out our album!