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Program Officer Silvia Ronco Elected CUR Chemistry Division Chair

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has named Silvia Ronco to a two-year term as chair of its Chemistry Division. Ronco is a program officer for Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), a foundation that funds the high-risk/high-reward research of academic-based scientists. RCSA also supports undergraduate research in the physical sciences at American colleges and universities. Both RCSA and CUR believe that encouraging students to take part in the real-world research projects of their professors offers the very best educational experience. "This is a marvelous opportunity to further the cause of undergraduate research," Ronco said. "Brian Andreen, a former vice president of RCSA, was instrumental in founding CUR in the 1970s, and now it has more than 7,000 individual members." Andreen and others created CUR as an organization for chemists from private liberal arts colleges, Ronco said. Today it encompasses many other disciplines, including those in the humanities and social sciences and all types of institutions. CUR defines undergraduate research as: An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. Ronco was voted into the chairmanship by the Chemistry Division's 24 councilors comprising the division's leadership. She will oversee the division's committees and represent it at organization-wide meetings and task forces. Together with one of her chemist colleagues, Mel Druelinger, she will also oversee a CUR-sponsored symposium for new faculty at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Ronco noted that the CUR offers program review services to departments or divisions of primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). Three to six chemistry departments a year take advantage of this service, she said. The Chemistry Division also offers a mentor service to help early career chemistry professors learn to deal with job and grant applications, tenure documents and other issues. Ronco came to RCSA in September 2003 from the University of South Dakota where she was professor of chemistry. Her research interests involve the synthesis and electron transfer studies of transition metal complexes with applications in solar energy conversion, and the design of luminescence sensors and photocatalysts. She received a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the National University of La Plata in Argentina. Before joining the USD faculty in 1992, Ronco did postdoctoral work with Guillermo Ferraudi at the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory and with John D. Petersen at Clemson University. Ronco has served on the NCUR board of governors, as well as a chemistry councilor for CUR (2000-present). As chair of the CUR Chemistry Division she succeeds Prof. Roger S. Rowlett of Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. CUR is headquartered in Washington, D.C. RCSA, the second oldest foundation in the U.S. and the first devoted wholly to academic-based science, is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona.

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