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Chemistry Undergraduates Named Volunteers of Distinction

Two undergraduate chemistry students were named 2023 Volunteers of Distinction. Drake Robins and Clay West were nominated by faculty members and joined the ranks of students from across the university being honored.

Drake Robins was a fourth-year senior studying analytical chemistry when he received the award. He is a member of the Air Force ROTC and has been working in Associate Professor Bhavya Sharma’s lab since his junior year. Robins expressed his gratitude for the award and his time at UT.

“Academics and research have always been a top priority for me throughout my time at UT, and I feel extremely blessed to be recognized for it this close to graduation,” said Robins.

Robins has since graduated and was commissioned into the United States Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant. After the summer, Robins plans to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. 

Clay West, also a fourth-year senior when he received his award, was a student in the department’s American Chemical Society certified bachelor’s degree program. West stated he was grateful to receive the Volunteer of Distinction Award and considers it to be a reflection of the work he has put into earning his degree.

Prior to graduation, West participated in the department’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, where he presented research conducted under the supervision of Professor Shawn Campagna. West plans to spend the next year applying to graduate schools and preparing to pursue a PhD in organic chemistry. 

The Volunteer of Distinction Awards were created in 2021 by the university to recognize students across campus who exhibit extraordinary academic achievement, professional promise, or excellence in research. Previous award winners from the chemistry department include Maggie Eslinger, Hannah Hagewood, Elijah Hix, Galvin McCarver, and Wilson Wang.