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MCCC Chemistry Wizard Helen Tanzini Recognized with Volunteer Award from American Chemical Society

1/19/18


Professor Helen Tanzini at home in the chemistry lab.

From left: On the road during National Chemistry Week in October are MCCC faculty member Jingrong Huang (Physics), students Christopher Racioppo, Tania Asmal, Anjali Ravichandran, Riddhi Parmar,and Nathalie Laurent, and faculty members Lisa Dunn (Nursing), and Helen Tanzini.

West Windsor, N.J. – Professor Helen Tanzini has been selected by the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) for the 2018 Local Outreach Volunteer of the Year Award. Tanzini, coordinator of the Chemistry program at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), was recognized for decades of volunteerism around the region to promote the magic and wonder of chemistry.

Each local section of the ACS has the opportunity to nominate one individual annually for demonstrating extraordinary outreach volunteer service. Last year 38 individuals from across the country were selected.

Since her first semester teaching at MCCC in 1998, Tanzini has organized and led field trips, in partnership with the ACS’s Trenton Section, to area elementary schools during National Chemistry Week in October. MCCC students have been front and center in the schools' classrooms, presenting experiments that demonstrate chemistry concepts and create excitement for science among thousands of youngsters.

Many MCCC faculty members, volunteers from Rider University, The College of New Jersey, Princeton University, the ACS’s Trenton Section, and Mercer's own returning alumni have joined in this major outreach initiative over the past 19 years. Collectively, they have served more than 12,000 students in 530 classes at 42 different schools. (Some schools have been visited multiple times.) All funding for materials comes from the ACS’s Trenton Section.

Tanzini has also organized volunteer teams to participate in Super Science Saturdays at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton and has participated with her students at numerous science fairs at local schools.

Tanzini says she is surprised and humbled by the honor and that her work has been a labor of love. “My goal is to excite young people of all ages about the joys of chemistry and the mysteries of chemical processes – and to create enthusiasm in the next generation of students about science and science careers. My own students benefit immensely from the experience of teaching what they have learned and of giving back to the community in a hands-on, interactive way during National Chemistry Week.”

In addition to MCCC chemistry and biology students, Chemistry Week volunteers have included students studying nursing and education.

The advisor for MCCC’s Organic Chemistry Club, Tanzini was the recipient of the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010, selected by students for her extensive knowledge, enthusiasm, preparedness, teaching style, and availability to provide help outside the classroom.

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