TMCC to Host National Chemistry Conference

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Katkova and Kolbet and Leathen Image

Chemistry Professors Olga Katkova and Kathleen Kolbet, and Chemistry Instructor Matthew Leathen organized the 2YC3 216th Conference.

The chemistry faculty at Truckee Meadows Community College have been active members and facilitators in the Two-year College Chemistry Consortium (2YC3) almost from the time they each began teaching at TMCC.

Professors Olga Katkova and Kathleen Kolbet frequently attend 2YC3 institutes, along with Chemistry Instructor Matthew Leathen.

Their involvement in this professional organization has ultimately led to TMCC’s Physical Sciences Department hosting the national Two-year College Consortium’s 216th conference, “Chemistry Inside and Outside the Classroom” from March 31–April 1, 2017.

“I’m so proud that TMCC was chosen for a nationwide conference by 2YC3,” Professor Katkova said. “It’s a big honor for TMCC because chemistry faculty from all over the U.S. will be visiting us. We are expecting about 70 attendees.”

The TMCC Team Effort

A national conference is a big undertaking, and the event’s planning has so far been a hands-on effort by many individuals and departments at the College.

“We applied for the conference about a year ago and prepared for it much of last summer, working with the local hotels and casinos for catering or services that benefit groups coming into town,” Katkova said. “We’ll be having a social science event at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum as well, and all TMCC faculty are invited to the social and to keynote talks.”

The conference keynote speaker sessions are free for TMCC faculty, and all Washoe County School District science instructors. There will be an additional fee for anyone who would like to participate in the “Smartest Party in Town” social event at the Discovery Museum.

TMCC’s Web Services team has set up a dedicated conference Web page at for registration and information helpful to out-of-town guests. All chemistry educators across the U.S. from high school, colleges and universities are invited to "Chemistry Inside and Outside the Classroom". Registration for full-time college instructors is $50, and for part-time instructors $25. Students have free admission.

Facilities Operations and Capital Planning staff members have been meeting with the conference prep team to determine room set-up arrangements, media needs and optimum staging for the event.

The TMCC Science, Technology Engineering, and Math (STEM) Society student club has offered their help volunteering at the event, to assist with setup, registration and directions. Students will be helping to staff some of the stations at the event.

“Cathy Brewster generously offered to help with the nametags for conference attendees,” Katkova said. “Everyone is very helpful at TMCC with a positive approach—it has made a tremendous difference. TMCC is a family.”

Presenters to Include Desert Research Institute (DRI) and TMCC Faculty

TMCC physical science professors will be presenting three of the sessions for the 2yC3 conference.

Geology and Geography Professor David Boden will be leading a workshop, "The Chemistry of Geothermal Systems". Justin Weinberg, CEO of 101 Edu, Inc. will be presenting a session entitled "CHEM 101: Next-Generation Classroom Engagement Tools Built for Chemistry Students". Professor Kolbet will assist Weinberg as he outlines a new online homework tool being used for the first time at TMCC in Kolbet’s classrooms. Matthew Leathen will be presenting "Measuring Student Learning: How to Use Pre-tests for Improved Course Assessment".

TMCC President Karin Hilgersom, PhD, will give opening remarks.

Keynote addresses include the following:

  • Department of Atmospheric Sciences, DRI: Chemistry of Air Quality and Chemistry of E-Cigarette Vaping
  • 92nd Civil Support Team (WMD): Mobile Chemistry Lab
  • John Pollard, Associate Professor of Practice in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, University of Arizona: “Why Do We Gather Students In Class?”

More Background on the 2YC3

The 2YC3 is a branch of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Katkova said. The ACS is a nonprofit organization with the mission of “improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” ACS has about 157,000 members. “2YC3 is an organization that’s within, or a part of, the ACS Division of Chemical Education,” said Scott Donnelly, Future Sites Coordinator for the 2YC3. “It has an executive committee of officers that runs it.”

The ACS is a professional group for chemical engineers, chemists and related chemistry professionals, and 2YC3 members are chemistry educators. “The 2YC3 provides a forum for chemistry educators to enhance student learning through the professional development conferences,” Katkova added.

For more information about the 2YC3 “Chemistry Inside and Outside the Classroom” conference, please call 775-673-7197.