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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 a career and networking fair, the Fifth Annual Women in STEM Research Symposium, a plenary lecture and reception, Q&A discussion lunches, and a documentary screening.

A special thank you to the keynote speakers Karen Lloyd, UT Department of Microbiology, Heather Allen, Department of Chemistry, Ohio State University, Michelle Buchanan, Deputy for Science & Technology, ORNL, Rina Dukor, co-founder and president, Bio-Tools, Inc., and Polly Arnold, OBE FRS FRSE FRSC.

Chemistry graduate students Paula Pimento and Avery Wood

Chemistry graduate students Paula Pimento and Avery Wood had the opportunity to share and present their research. Pimento’s research “Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) Detection of Neurotransmitters” explores 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,” Pimento said. “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. 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.”

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.

“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,” Pimento said. “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.”

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