Chemistry alumna helps advance science through communication
Gwendolyn Bogard ’20 grew up in the Philomath and Corvallis areas and loved her high school science courses and trips to the Oregon coast. She also enjoyed the performing arts, balancing her love of playing the violin and taking theatre courses as well. With her lab work in high school not so appealing, she focused on theatre arts as she looked for colleges. With SOU also having a thriving Honors College with cohorts added every year, she applied thinking she would major in theatre arts.
Once on campus, Gwendolyn lived in the Cascade housing complex and loved her experiences in the Honors College. She adored the like-minded, academically-focused community and even lived with two cohort members the rest of her collegiate career. She missed science courses though and longed for that challenge. The summer after her freshman year, she decided to spend her next academic year exploring science courses. “Everyone goes through an existential career crisis in college. Fortunately, mine was early on,” she said. It was a course called “Science and Democracy” taught by Prakash Chenjeri, where the lightbulb was turned on and she became very interested in how science influences society and vice versa.
She changed her major and began with the chemistry sequence taught by Anna Oliveri. She quickly built a great rapport with her and even got to edit a paper for Anna which led to her volunteering as a research assistant for her. “I really loved how we had teachers with PhDs teaching us in our core classes. That’s a different story at big research universities where recent undergrad, graduate teaching fellows teach the courses. I think that kind of preparation really helps our STEM grads for graduate school, medical school, etc.,” she added. Gwendolyn became an avid Chemistry Club member which really got her interested in the science communications and community building aspects. She would later focus on science communications for her Honors College Capstone.
In 2019 she earned an internship with the non-profit Research! America and travelled to Washington, DC for three months to work on advocating for biomedical and public health research. “I got to learn about lobbying, strategies, marketing, non-profit operations and how the three branches of the federal government function. A very enlightening experience that further piqued my interest in science communications,” said Gwendolyn. The winter of 2020 she interned for the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology and loved her experiences on Capitol Hill. Gwendolyn graduated summa cum laude with her bachelor of arts in chemistry June of 2020 and a minor in Spanish.
Immediately after graduation, Gwendolyn was hired by the non-profit American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. She serves as a Government Relations Associate and helps shape policy, communications, outreach and event planning. “Working for the AAAS is a dream job for me! My interest in science communication started at SOU my sophomore year and now I get to do this daily. I love my job!”
“The foundation of education and support I received at SOU was key to finding a career that combines my passions and allows me to advocate for issues I believe in. I owe so much to the chemistry and Honors College faculty in particular for supporting my exploration and setting me up for success.”