Chemistry Contains a Compound of Stars
Spelman’s chemistry faculty has stars. In 2011, Associate Professor Leyte Winfield was named an American Association for Cancer Research Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research. She has done research to foster the development of small molecules to inhibit the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells.
In addition, in 2010, chemistry Professor Lisa Hibbard received the Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award. In 2010, the department also was awarded a $450,000 partnership award from NASA. The attractiveness of Spelman increases for NASA as students participate in “research-based experiments involving lasers, spectroscopy, and other atmospheric measurement techniques incorporated into the chemistry and physics curriculum.” The department’s motto is “seek and you shall find excellence.”
Not Deterred by Small Beginnings
Prior to 1977, Spelman students majoring in chemistry completed most of their chemistry courses through cooperative arrangements with Morehouse College. Due to the rapid increase of Spelman students majoring in the natural sciences during the 1970s, Spelman's chemistry department was established as an independent department in 1977 and began offering the first two years of the chemistry curriculum on campus. Upper division courses were either completed at Morehouse or at the other colleges in the Atlanta University Center Consortium. Since that time, the number of biochemistry, chemistry, and dual-degree chemical engineering majors has increased from 24 in 1977 to 120 in 1993, representing an increase from 1.9 percent to more than 6 percent of the College enrollment.
As of the 1990-91 academic year, Spelman students were able to complete all of the basic chemistry courses and many of the chemistry electives on campus. Today, Spelman enrolls more chemistry majors than many comparable liberal arts colleges and major research universities throughout the United States.