Meet the YCC: Stephanie Ramos

Meet Stephanie Ramos, Associate Director of Undergraduate Research at Oregon State University and first-generation high school and college grad. Stephanie is a Member of the national Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) and also serves as YCC’s Secretary. Stephanie’s profile is part of “Meet the YCC”, a series of blog posts highlighting YCC Members and Associates and what they do both in and outside of ACS.

Stephanie Ramos (she/her/hers)

YCC Member

YCC role: Secretary

Education
B.S., Chemistry, Texas Tech University
M.Sc., Chemistry, Oregon State University

Connect: LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

When and why did you join the YCC?

I joined YCC in 2015 as a graduate student as I was excited to connect with other younger chemists to start building a network of support to help me excel throughout my academic journey.

What is your favorite project you have been a part of with the YCC?

I have enjoyed working with the Governance Interface & Outreach (GIO) group. During my time on that subcommittee (before taking on the role of YCC Secretary), I helped set up the ACS presidential candidates conversations event “Catalyze the Vote.” This event aims to increase voter turnout in the annual presidential elections. The program was so successful it was picked up by ACS Webinars to help us reach a larger audience.

What is your favorite part about being on the YCC?

The people. Hands down, the folks you meet on the YCC are dedicated and committed volunteers. They come from different walks of life but truly want to help other chemists be successful. I’ve made some amazing friendships through the YCC, and I always look forward to connecting with them as they advance through life and career changes.

A 7-mile run through rain and mud? No problem! Here I am at the finish line of the Silver Falls 2023 Trail Run in Silverton, Oregon.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing younger chemists today?

One of the most significant challenges facing younger chemists today is navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of scientific research and technology. As the field of chemistry continues to advance, younger chemists must continuously adapt to new methodologies, techniques, and instruments. This requires ongoing education and professional development to stay abreast of the latest innovations and trends.

What is something you want every younger chemist to know?

One crucial piece of wisdom I’ve gained over the years is the importance of perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges. In my own journey, I’ve encountered numerous setbacks and obstacles, but I’ve learned that each setback presents an opportunity for growth and learning. It’s easy to give up and harder to continue but knowing my “reason why” always keeps me moving forward.

What is something you are most proud of?

I take great pride in being a first-generation graduate of high school, community college, and college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Each of these milestones has instilled in me the belief that regardless of one’s starting point, persistence and determination can lead to success. As I pursue my doctoral degree in Science Education, I am constantly reminded of the distance I have traveled and the achievements that lie ahead. This journey serves as a testament to the limitless potential within each of us to overcome obstacles and achieve our aspirations.

I enjoyed visiting the hot springs at Yellowstone National Park. Chemists who love colors need to see this place! Credit: Juan Carlos Ramos

How has your career taken a unique or unexpected path?

I gave an example of this previously in a YCC blog post titled “The Power of Your Network and Tips to Start and Maintain It.” In that post, I shared the following story.

In 2010, as a freshman at a community college, I was afforded the opportunity to attend my first American Chemical Society (ACS) conference. I had never left Texas, much less flown on a plane, and here I was travelling by myself to Boston. I was supported by the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program (PBBP) where the director, Dr. Jaclyn Canas-Carrell, put me in contact with the ACS president at the time, Dr. Joe Francisco. This is an example of when you meet someone, you gain access to their network and to their immediate second and third degree connections. To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. After meeting Dr. Francisco, he invited me to shadow him and attend all of the events at the ACS conference. It was at this moment my network was first seeded.

Dr. Francisco took me to the ACS Scholars Program luncheon where I met Zaida Morales-Martinez (Mama Z) who encouraged me to apply for the ACS Scholars Program that gives underrepresented minority low-income college students majoring in chemistry a varying scholarship of up to $5,000 per year. I applied and was awarded this scholarship, which gave me the financial resources to pay for school and focus on my academics.

 My experience with the PBBP opened the door for me to become a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute CISER Program at Texas Tech University and also allowed me to have on-campus support with the Mentor Tech Program. As an undergraduate, I was also given the chance to attend the national Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and other research conferences to present my work. At each conference, I used my time wisely to meet mentors, colleagues, and friends every chance I got.

 In that post, I also share advice for creating and maintaining your network, so definitely check it out to read more about what I learned from this experience!

What are your favorite things to do for fun?

I enjoy a variety of activities that allow me to unwind and prioritize my well-being. Whether it’s immersing myself in a good book, going for a run or hike to connect with nature, or simply spending quality time with my loved ones and pets, I cherish moments that allow me to pause and rejuvenate both my mind and body.

 

Biographical photo at Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park credited to Juan Carlos Ramos.

Article by Olivia Wilkins, Ph.D.

Olivia Wilkins is an astrochemist and NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Goddard. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech and a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from Dickinson College.