Lesson from the Lab – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Lesson from the Lab

Alison Williams will give a Sigma Xi distinguished lecture on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the associate director of diversity programs and graduate recruiting in the department of molecular biology at Princeton University. Her lecture, Monday, March 31, will be held at 8 p.m. in Coxe 008.

“Professor Williams is an African-American woman who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and a faculty position at Princeton University,” says Professor Emeritus Larry Campbell, secretary and treasurer of the Geneva chapter of Sigma Xi. “As the Associate Director of Diversity Programs at Princeton, she is in a unique position to help increase the numbers of minorities and women pursuing degrees in science. Her lecture will reflect upon her own experience as an African-American woman interested in a scientific career.”

Williams' talk, titled “Lessons from the Lab: An African American Woman's Journey from Manure to DNA,” is sponsored by the Geneva Chapter of Sigma Xi, a society founded in 1886 to “honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering.” The lecture will be held in conjunction with the Geneva Chapter of Sigma Xi's annual dinner and induction ceremony for new members.

“One of the purposes of Sigma Xi,” says Campbell, “is to reach out to society at large with the message that scientific research is important for everyone, scientist and non-scientist alike, and to encourage our citizens to take an active interest in scientific matters. An important part of this outreach effort is to encourage young people to take up science as a profession, and particularly young people of color, who are not represented in the sciences at anywhere near the levels at which they are represented in the general population.”

Williams received her B.A. in chemistry at Wesleyan University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Rochester. She has taught at Swarthmore College, Wesleyan University, Rutgers University and Princeton University.

She received the Lloyd N. Ferguson Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. Additionally, she has been named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer for 2006-2008. Her research has explored the chemistry of biologically important molecules such as nucleotides nucleosides DNA and RNA.

On the evening of Sunday, March 30, Williams will have dinner with students at the Intercultural Affairs House. The following afternoon, before her talk, she will meet with students on campus and also travel to Geneva High School to talk with students there.