CNS Natural Sciences Week focuses on diversity

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Photo Credit: Tristan Ipock | Daily Texan Staff

The Natural Sciences Council (NSC) hosted their annual Natural Sciences Week from Monday, Oct. 15 to Friday, Oct. 19. Each day, NSC hosted a different event for students in the College of Natural Sciences. NSC public relations chair and chemistry junior Alexander Mutammara said this year’s theme was diversity within the natural sciences.

“This year, one of our biggest focuses is on celebrating the diversity of majors and diversity of the student body and the organizations that are run by these students,” said Mutammara.

Joanna Chyu, NSC president and biochemistry and Plan II senior, said this focus on diversity was reflected in the planning stages of the event as they reached out to departments she felt are often overlooked, such as astronomy and human ecology. Chyu added that NSC also wanted to raise awareness for the diversity of campus organizations within the college.

“We definitely tried to reach out to organizations that maybe weren’t the biggest in the college or the ones that get the most name recognition but they still represent a really important community in the college,” said Chyu.

These organizations had the opportunity to make themselves known last Monday when NSC hosted Gone to Natural Sciences. This event welcomed the class of 2022 to the college. In addition to tabling from about 50 student organizations, the event featured a petting zoo, miniature horses and of course, an appearance by Hook ‘Em. Halfway through the evening, Paul Goldbart, the new dean of the College of Natural Sciences, gave words of welcome and encouragement to new students.

The second day, Dan Graham, founder of Build-A-Sign and Notley Ventures, spoke at the Startup Science Live! event. He spoke candidly about the challenges he faced in starting businesses and offered advice to students interested in a similar path.

In years past, Startup Science Live! was a collaboration between the College of Natural Sciences and the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship. According to Melissa Taylor, assistant dean in the College of Natural Sciences, this is the first year that the event was a part of Natural Sciences week as well.

Wednesday’s event was planned as a star party where in addition to a face painting booth, several physics and astronomy organizations were tabling. This tabling was more hands on, with the Society of Physics Students’ liquid nitrogen ice cream. The event was moved indoors due to the weather, but maintained the spirit of a star party through string lights and a playlist featuring tracks like “Rocket Man” by Elton John.

On Thursday evening, students could meet with representatives from seventeen employers including IBM and Oracle at CNS Connections. The event was conceived as an opportunity to get students used to networking in a low-pressure environment.

Natural Sciences Week culminated in Friday’s Art in Science exhibition showcasing entries to the annual Visualizing Science competition. In addition to announcing the winner, the event engaged the wider CNS community with virtual reality and 3D printing stations.

Now that the week is over, Chyu said she will define the event’s success by how it makes people think about their place in the college.

“Success at face value can mean biggest turnout …  and we were fortunate enough to have that,” said Chyu. “At the end of the day, if we even have one student in CNS …  give them a little more connection to resources, make them feel a little more welcome in the college, I would say that’s just one of the overarching goals that we have in mind for all of our Natural Sciences Week events.”