On Campus: Student Leadership and Research at Middle Tennessee State University

This article is part of a new series of features on the work of our wonderful SENCER community members. NCSCE staff have the pleasure of corresponding with so many of you on a regular basis and are aware your efforts, but we realize that most members of our community may only have access to information about these great initiatives at our national or regional events. This series allows us to share the ingenuity and dynamic work of NCSCE participants and their partners with all of our readers. Each month, we’ll talk with educators, administrators, students, and/or staff to learn how they have implemented the SENCER approach, and how it has impacted their campuses and communities.


This month, we’re speaking with Rachel Marlin, a rising senior chemistry major at Middle Tennessee State University, where she works with Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, Professor of chemistry and Director of the Women in STEM Center (WISTEM). Dr. Iriarte-Gross, a leader in the SENCER community, received the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science from NCSCE in 2016 in recognition of her efforts. Ms. Marlin is Associate Director of the WISTEM Center. She has presented on her work at both the 2018 NCSCE Washington Symposium and the 2017 SENCER Summer Institute, as well as at a meeting of the American Chemical Society and during the MTSU College of Basic and Applied Science Day (pictured above). You can read the abstract for Ms. Marlin’s poster from the 2018 Washington Symposium on this page. Here, Ms. Marlin shares how she became involved with SENCER and the impact on her academic career and beyond. – Danielle Kraus Tarka


How did you get involved with SENCER activities at your University?

Marlin: I got involved with SENCER after taking an honors physical science class. The course was “SENCER based,” and at the beginning of the semester, I did not think the class would be too different from other classes. Around midterms, I realized this class was very different; it was a lot more work but it was very fun and much more rewarding. After I took that class, I became a mentee to the professor and have worked closely with her since. Working with Dr. Gross has saturated my academic career with the SENCER philosophy.

What projects have you been involved with?

Marlin: When I first worked with a SENCER class, our final project was to present research to fifth graders. My first project directly with SENCER was during the SSI 2017 at Stony Brook University. At the Summer Institute, I presented research I had been working on at my university. That same summer I presented a project at the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, DC. Since then, I have been heavily involved with doing research on a classic CHEM 1010 course at MTSU. I meet with the class once a week where they do activities, and they take surveys before and after (SALG) so I can gauge what they learn, retain, and still want to learn.


Recently, MTSU has opened the WISTEM (Women In STEM) Center, and I was honored to be given the title of Associate Director. Through this center, our mission is to offer any help possible to women in STEM, and we encourage all College of Basic and Applied Science students to get involved and be part of this larger movement, all to see a success in STEM!


A continuous project I am involved in is Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), which takes up a large space in my heart. EYH is an annual day-long event for middle and high school girls in Tennessee to come to the university and spend a day learning about STEM. We give them the opportunity to experience something they normally cannot during school. The girls go to workshops that are driven by faculty, Murfreesboro STEM professionals, and other women role models for these young girls. EYH gives girls the opportunity to express an interest in STEM and be free to ask questions. The atmosphere on campus that day is how I felt after I saw Wonder Woman – truly amazing and inspiring. It’s my favorite day of the year, for sure.

What impact has your involvement with these activities had on your college experience, and beyond?

Marlin: My involvement has impacted almost every aspect of my college career. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t involved with these. My involvement with these activities and organizations has improved my professionalism, my organization, my public speaking skills, and my research methods. They have also provided me with an amazing community that has a common mission to help women in STEM.


Thank you Rachel!

Posted in eNews, SENCER News.