SC State junior ‘lifetime’ Ambassador for ACS

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Boaz BettSC State University junior, Boaz Bett, was presented with a ‘lifetime’ opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the American Chemical Society (ACS). The chemistry major represented his country, Kenya, at the 244th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition, held Aug. 19-23, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pa.

A national organization, the American Chemical Society unites scientists in the field of chemistry and other chemistry-related fields. With a membership of more than 164,000, the ACS is the largest scientific society in the world. It encourages its ambassadors to serve as spokespeople, advocating the importance of chemistry and exposing its relevance in a variety of career fields. 

“It is a great privilege to get to represent my country, my school and my continent as an ambassador of the ACS. I like talking about what I’m passionate about. It gives me a good chance to preach the gospel that the ACS gives students opportunities to study in the field of chemistry,” said Bett.

At the expo, Bett came across an ACS advertisement seeking ambassadors for the organization. Being in the right place at the right time and one of few Africans at the expo afforded Bett the opportunity to become an ambassador for his own country and his school.

As an ambassador representing Kenya, Bett is hopeful that his newfound position will bring awareness to rising issues in Africa. The continent of Africa is facing several challenges, lack of access to quality and affordable healthcare being one of the most severe.

According to Bett, healthcare is “expensive and difficult to access” in most African countries. Bett believes that chemistry offers answers in medical and pharmaceutical research, and by sending aspiring scientists from Africa to study and gain skills in developed countries, like America, the solutions that they subsequently find can be used to address health issues impacting the continent.

At the national meeting, many research presentations were made. Bett’s knowledge of the field of chemistry, which he gained while studying in Kenya and at SC State, prepared him to confidently give a presentation on the research he has been working on since his arrival to the university in September 2010.

Bett conducts research under the supervision of SC State Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Director of the Environmental Radiochemistry Laboratory Dr. Zheng Chang. He presented research on “Radiometric Analysis of 127mTe, 137Cs and 90Sr in Airborne Fission Products from Nuclear Incidents.” He is currently exploring new radiometric separation and analysis techniques.

In 2011, Bett worked with Chang and other researchers on a SC State 1890 Research-funded study. Chang’s research group offered a free service that tested for pollution and radon levels in well water supplies of families and businesses in the Midlands to Low Country regions in the state of South Carolina.

“Boaz Bett is a great example of the excellence and leadership we expect from the students who work with the 1890 Research Program. We congratulate him on his accomplishments for being honored as an ambassador for the American Chemical Society, which will also afford him opportunities to serve as an ambassador for SC State University,” said Dr. Louis Whitesides, 1890 Research administrator.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Bett plans to proceed to graduate school and gain a Ph.D. in chemistry. He will focus on pharmaceutical research that is directly related to cancer research. Once he obtains his Ph.D., Bett plans to return to Eldoret, Kenya, his hometown.