Raychelle Burks to Present Helen Murray Free Lecture

Rachelle Burks

Raychelle Burks, an associate professor of chemistry at American University and a popular science communicator who has appeared on TV, in podcasts, and at large genre cons such as DragonCon and GreekGirlCon, will make a pair of presentations as the speaker of the Helen Murray Free Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 21.

The first lecture, “Illicit indications: colorimetric and fluorometric visualizations for forensic science,” will begin at 11 a.m. in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.). Burks’ talk will focus on her team’s use of colorimetric and fluorometric sensors or sensor arrays, paired with image analysis, to detect and/or visualize targets of forensic interest such as illicit drugs, explosives, chemical weapons, and latent prints.

The second lecture starts at 7:30 p.m. in Gault Recital Hall of Scheide Music Center (525 E. University St.) and is entitled “Monsters, Murder, and Marvel.” This talk will explore what pop culture/fandoms teaches Burks about science, teaching, and learning. It’s a bit of a personal journey with some education and sci-comm research, science, and lots of pop culture references.

After working in a crime lab, Burks returned to academia, teaching, and research. Her research team is focused on the development of colorimetric and luminescent sensor arrays for the detection of analytes of mainly forensic and national security interest.

In addition to writing a science-meets-true crime column called “Trace Analysis” for Chemistry World in 2020, she was awarded the James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public by the American Chemical Society. Committed to making STEM accessible and equitable for all, Burks is a member of local, national, and international working groups focused on social justice and STEM.

Both lectures are free and open to the public. Masks are required to be worn in all campus buildings. The Wooster Section of the American Chemical Society will sponsor a reception immediately following the evening lecture. The Helen Murray Free Endowed Lecture Series was established by Helen’s children and endowed through the Al and Helen Free Foundation.

For more information, phone 330-263-2418.

Posted in Event, News.

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