By Ella Murdock Gardner ’22
In 2019, the Keck Science Chemistry Club gave new meaning to the phrase “experimental cooking” with their Chemistry Charity Cookbook. This cookbook was compiled by the members of the club under the supervision of Associate Professor of Chemistry Anna Wenzel, who started the club during her first year as a faculty advisor. Written in the style of a departmental lab manual, the cookbook includes 46 recipes contributed by students, faculty, and staff of The Claremont Colleges, and all proceeds will be donated to Chemists Without Borders, an organization that mobilizes the global chemistry community to solve humanitarian problems.
With recipes filed and numbered as “Experiments,” cooking instructions detailed under the “Experimental Procedure” sections, and ingredients listed as “Reagents” (the substances added to a system to cause a reaction in chemistry experiments), the club kept chemistry at the heart of the project. And from Experiment 3: Pozole Verde to Experiment 21: Jollof Rice, the cookbook includes recipes that reflect the cultural backgrounds of the contributors. “One of the goals of the cookbook was to highlight the diverse community of the Keck Science Department,” says Wenzel.
The club cooked up the idea for the book in the fall of 2019 as part of a multi-pronged initiative to engage with the global and local chemistry communities. “Science for social good has been an underlying theme in our club this year,” says Jordan Gewing-Mullins ’21, a molecular biology major who serves on the leadership committee of the club.
As a volunteer for Chemists Without Borders, Gewing-Mullins knew that the organization’s work aligned with the values of the Keck Science community. She suggested that the club should donate the proceeds from the cookbook to support Chemists Without Borders’ efforts to provide safe medicines and vaccines, clean water, sustainable energy, educational services, and emergency support across the globe.
On a local level, the Chemistry Club is working with Uncommon Good, a Claremont-based organization that supports underserved children. The members of the club are analyzing soil samples for lead content and other environmental hazards and teaching the young women how to conduct engaging science demonstrations. In April, the club will also volunteer at the Southern California Science Olympiad Championships, which will be held in Pasadena. “Projects like these allow Scripps students to partner with school kids and do good within the community,” Wenzel says.
Through these various outreach initiatives, the Keck Science Chemistry Club has developed a recipe that makes chemistry accessible to a range of communities. “Out of these projects and partnerships we want to engage young students in science and also instill a sense of leadership within the chemistry community at The Claremont Colleges,” Gewing-Mullins says.