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Chemistry student wins award for inspiring youth

February 29, 2008

Laura Thomas demonstrates the Thermite Reaction at Ben Franklin High school.

Loyola University New Orleans chemistry senior Laura Thomas will be awarded the Pittsburgh Conference Extra Effort award at a dinner meeting on March 3 at the New Orleans Marriot. The Pittsburg Conference is the world’s largest, most comprehensive conference and exposition for laboratory science.

Thomas earned the award by leading and organizing part of the 2007 Motorola Foundation Green Chemistry Experience, which included a series of outreach events involving demonstrations of “green chemistry” at elementary and high schools during the spring and fall of 2007. Green chemistry involves any modification of an existing organic process that removes environmentally harmful solvents or reagents, reduces waste or involves recycling of materials.

Thomas was assisted by Christa Simmers, chemistry senior, Eric Ramos, chemistry alumnus, and Dr. Kurt Birdwhistell, her chemistry professor.

“I am very pleased that Laura is receiving this award,” Birdwhistell said. “She is a great role model for Loyola. In her role as the university’s American Chemical Society president, Laura organized the students for these events which greatly enriched the chemistry education at the participating schools.”

The 2008 Extra Effort Award recognizes and rewards individuals in the New Orleans area who have made significant contributions to the quality of education in their respective disciplines or districts. Award recipients may have taken steps to minimize the effects of Katrina, helped with recovery efforts, improved school relations with the community and/or industry, offered enrichment programs for peers, or demonstrated exceptional perseverance in spite of extreme difficulties.

For more information, contact Dr. Kurt Birdwhistell at 865-3272 or birdwhis@loyno.edu.

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