Chemistry Department Aims for Collaboration Through Schiller

Editor’s Note: This is a third in a series of articles about the preparations being made for the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society.

Boston College’s chemistry department possesses a unique view of the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, seeing it not simply as a means to grow its own department on an individual basis, but as an opportunity to continue and expand existing collaboration across many areas of science. Though the department is working to become stronger, according to Marc Snapper, chair of the chemistry department, its focus with regard to the Schiller is truly on reciprocity.

“There’s a hope that there’s going to be a mutually beneficial relationship, that we’d be integrated with the institute, and that’s going to be an opportunity to grow to some extent,” he said. “We’re thinking about ways that we can support the Schiller Institute [including] initiatives that we can present that would be exciting for them to adopt.”  

Snapper said many of the current faculty’s research efforts already align with the stated goals of the institute, with projects tying into the effects of science on society and ranging in topic from solar energy to pollution to human health issues. Furthermore, within these projects, Snapper emphasized that there is an existing commitment to integrated science and collaboration with other departments, such as biology and physics “at Boston College and beyond.”

“It’s already a kind of integrated science effort in chemistry, so I think that there’s somewhat of a good fit between those research efforts of chemical biologists, physical chemists, and organic chemists to the goals stated for the Schiller Institute,” he said.

As a result of the natural alignment of the chemistry department’s work and the goals of the institute, Snapper predicted that the institute will not prompt big changes within the department, but that it will bolster existing efforts and continue to encourage collaboration. For example, Snapper said he is not yet aware of how the Schiller Institute may affect potential new faculty for the department, but he is hopeful that there will be appointments across departments.

Previously, BC announced that 22 new faculty members would be added to the University’s total due to the addition of the institute, and hiring is already underway. Snapper said he hoped there will be people in the institute who will also be in the chemistry department, creating a merging of existing sciences within Schiller.

“I think it’s going to be a mutually beneficial synergy between what they’re doing [and] what we want to do,” he said. “We will help each other achieve those mutual goals.”

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Staff