Belhaven University Co-Hosted Major Chemical Society Conference

February 21, 2024 (Clinton, Miss.) - Belhaven University co-hosted the 53rd American Chemical Society Southeast Undergraduate Research Conference (SURC 2024). Students representing small, private colleges to large public universities presented original research during the conference on February 16-17 at Mississippi College. 

“Students who do research have better success post-graduation,” said Dr. Brandon Magers, Belhaven’s Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Physics, who served as the Chair of the SURC 2024 Organizing Committee. “Presenting at a conference looks great on a resume, but it also gets students excited and gives them ownership of their research.”

Magers and Dr. Ariel Kelley, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Belhaven, aided in reviving this event focused on honing research presentation skills in undergraduate students.

SURC 2024 is geared toward these undergraduate chemistry researchers. The program included student oral presentations, poster sessions, awards, a graduate school and career fair, dinner, and social event. Dr. Angela K. Wilson delivered the keynote address. She is the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives in the Michigan State University College of Natural Sciences, and Director of the MSU Center for Quantum Computing, Science, and Engineering.

Belhaven students like McKenzee Henson, a senior biochemistry major, enjoyed participating in the conference and gained valuable experience defending her research. “Participating in this research conference enriches my education and paves the way for medical school, showcasing my commitment to advancing in the field.”

Misa Meadows, a senior chemistry major, won an Oral Presentation Award at the conference this year. Meadows has already been accepted to two doctoral programs at University of Alabama and Purdue University. Magers adds, "Ph.D. graduate schools are coming to the conference to recruit students to their programs.  Students with undergraduate research experience are top picks."

Hosting a regional meeting for one of the nation’s largest scientific societies brings no small amount of prestige to Mississippi College and Belhaven University – two small, private Christian colleges in the heart of the Deep South. “It shows that both MC and Belhaven have strong undergraduate chemistry departments and that we are big supporters of undergraduate research,” Magers said.