American Chemical Society awards bridge program to ASU's School of Molecular Sciences

May 17, 2021

Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences is one of three institutions nationwide selected this year to join the American Chemical Society’s Bridge Program.

Although underrepresented populations make up a third of college-age U.S. citizens, they only earn about 11% of U.S. chemistry PhDs. To address this gap and recognize ASU’s efforts to help all students succeed, the American Chemical Society has selected ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences as a site for its Bridge Program. ASU will receive funding from the ACS to set up a bridge site in the School of Molecular Sciences and to support at least two Bridge Fellows annually. Anne Jones Professor Anne Jones (left) mentoring a student in her lab (prior to pandemic safety protocols) in ASU's School of Molecular Sciences. Photo credit: Mary Zhu Download Full Image

Many students find it difficult to jump directly from a more structured undergraduate degree to a research-based PhD program, but chemical sciences master’s degrees are uncommon. The School of Molecular Sciences Bridge Program will develop transitional master’s degrees in chemistry and biochemistry to provide a pathway for students from diverse backgrounds from baccalaureate degrees into PhD programs in chemical sciences. The evidence-based program consists of rigorous, graduate-level courses complemented by personal coaching and mentoring from a team of faculty and peers to ensure success.

“The ACS Bridge program recognizes that different students can take different pathways into science, especially those from underrepresented populations,” said President’s Professor Ian Gould, interim director of the School of Molecular Sciences. “The School of Molecular Sciences is leading the way in designing a new pathway into our PhD program for underrepresented students, and the ACS has recognized that this will have a real impact for real students.”

Leading the program at ASU is Professor Anne Jones, from the School of Molecular Sciences, who is also currently an ASU Provost Fellow.

“This project relies on a strong team of complementary and collaborative faculty dedicated to student success. We are excited to partner with the American Chemical Society to develop and disseminate best practices to improve graduate education in chemical sciences and at the same time to help individual students achieve their dreams,” Jones said.

Associate Professor Ryan Trovitch, with the School of Molecular Sciences, will manage the process of recruitment and selection of fellows and provide personalized coaching to fellows for their graduate applications.

“ASU is an ideal partner for the ACS Bridge Program given our school’s commitment to include underrepresented groups in research,” Trovitch said. “This program will offer students with less than perfect transcripts an opportunity to earn a fully funded MS degree while making significant contributions to experimental science. The students who participate in our Bridge Site will gain the expertise needed to earn a PhD in chemistry or biochemistry and become a leader in their chosen field.”

SMS team

From left: Anne Jones, Ryan Trovitch, Ara Austin and Barbara Munk. Image credit: Mary Zhu

Clinical Assistant Professor Ara Austin, who is managing director of online programs for the School of Molecular Sciences and director of online engagement and strategic initiatives for The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will lead efforts to evaluate the impact of interventions developed for this program and recommend evidence-based modifications to improve outcomes.

Clinical Assistant Professor Barbara Munk is managing director of school operations in the School of Molecular Sciences. Together with Austin, Munk has built a very successful undergraduate peer mentoring program in the School of Molecular Sciences that links campus-immersion students with online learners. The program will be expanded to include peer-to-peer graduate mentoring as part of this project. Munk has worked extensively in industry, and she is currently a member of ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services advisory board, experience invaluable in mentoring graduate students.

The American Chemical Society Bridge Program is part of the larger Inclusive Graduate Education Network, a collaboration of more than 30 professional societies and institutions, leading a paradigm shift in increasing the participation of Black, Latino and Indigenous students in graduate programs in physical sciences.

Jenny Green

Clinical associate professor, School of Molecular Sciences


ASU assistant professor receives Fulbright US Scholar Award

Tess M.S. Neal to study the admission of psychological expert evidence in Australian, US courts

May 17, 2021

The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board have announced that Tess M.S. Neal, assistant professor of psychology in Arizona State University's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Australia.

Neal will conduct research at the University of New South Wales as part of a project titled “Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Australian Judges Screening out 'Junk Science'?” Tess Neal ASU Assistant Professor Tess M.S. Neal. Download Full Image

Psychological testing, based on psychometric science, is often used in court to aid judges in making legal decisions that profoundly affect people’s lives. Although judges are required by U.S. law to screen out junk science, many psychological tests that lack scientific validity are nevertheless allowed into court. Australian evidence law is far less demanding than in the U.S., but anecdotal reports suggest Australian judges may be doing a better job policing the credibility of expert psychological evidence that U.S. judges.

This project will investigate and compare experience with psychological assessment evidence in U.S. and Australian courts, focusing on country-level differences in evidence laws and the implications of these differences for all expert evidence.

As a Fulbright scholar, Neal will share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and Australia. Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.

Upon returning to their institutions, labs and classrooms in the United States, they share their stories and often become active supporters of international exchange, inviting foreign scholars to campus and encouraging colleagues and students to go abroad.

As Fulbright scholar alumni, their careers are enriched by joining a network of thousands of esteemed scholars, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 39 who have served as a head of state or government.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants from over 160 countries the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.  

Media and Events Specialist, The School of Social and Behavioral Sciences