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Chemistry student earns inaugural scholarship

Afton Hiscox, a fourth-year honours chemistry student in UBC’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, is the winner of the inaugural Association of the Chemical Profession of British Columbia student member scholarship.

“Afton’s contributions to the profession and the community and her academic standing were outstanding,” said Paul West, president of ACPBC.

Hiscox was selected from 16 applicants representing six universities around the province.

Criteria for awarding the $1,000 scholarship included membership in the ACPBC, academic standing, a declared major in chemistry, and exemplary activities that promote the chemical profession.

Hiscox started her studies at UBC’s Okanagan campus intending to focus on biology and psychology, but after enjoying a first-year chemistry class she decided to declare a major in chemistry.

Since then, Hiscox has been involved in the Chemistry Course Union, worked as a research assistant, tutored lower-level students, and is currently a teaching assistant for a first-year chemistry class.

UBCO professors Susan Murch and Paul Shipley teach 450 first-year chemistry students. Hiscox is a teaching assistant for their course.

“Afton puts in a lot of extra work and provides countless mentorship hours with the students,” said Murch.

“We have received several emails from students about how much they appreciate her.”

“The students love her and we as faculty members really appreciate her, too,” added Shipley.

“She formally assists with teaching, but she also helps us to identify and sort out problems, which benefits both professors and students.”

This year has been designated the International Year of Chemistry by the United Nations as Hiscox helped to organize kick-off events on campus.

She will continue to be involved setting up speakers and events throughout the year.

“Chemists in general are not easily mobilized for promotion,” said Murch.

“We are better known for staying in the lab, so the work Afton is doing to promote the International Year of Chemistry is really important.”

Her exceptional work helping students and promoting chemistry is one of the areas that stood out in Hiscox’s award application. She says being a student at UBC’s Okanagan campus gave her a big advantage when applying for the ACPBC award.

“This campus has given me a lot of opportunities that wouldn’t be available to me at larger universities,” she said.

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