Graduate Student Organizations

The Smith School’s environment—which values camaraderie and social responsibility—encourages graduate students to spend a portion of their time participating in student-led organizations.

Two graduate student organizations that often work together are CBE Women and the CBE Graduate Student Association (ChEGSA). Both of these organizations, with missions of their own, work toward bettering the student experience and serving in varying communities—local communities, national organizations, and the chemical engineering industry.

CBE Women

Cornell’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Graduate Women’s Group (CBE Women) develops and hosts programming focused on encouraging women to enter and remain in the STEM fields while thriving professionally. Since 2008 they have been a major organizer of outreach and professional development opportunities for postdocs and graduate students. 

CBE Women’s mission comprises three parts

  • To find solutions to issues pertinent to female members of CBE
  • To provide leadership, networking, and personal growth opportunities to all students and postdocs in chemical engineering through targeted professional development events
  • To encourage younger female students to consider STEM fields, with an emphasis on the merits of chemical and biomolecular engineering

Activities and seminars

CBE Women organizes a wide variety of professional development and social activities throughout the year ranging from salary negotiation workshops to their annual dessert social. Several times a year, CBE Women invites female alumnae working in industry and high-profile research academics to visit and speak about their career paths and experience. 

Recent workshops and activities have included:

  • How make an effective LinkedIn profile
  • How to navigate the workplace and everyday negotiations
  • How to project confidence through body language
  • A professional development journal club
  • “Eat with an Academic” with female faculty around campus
  • Special Lisa Walker seminar on “how to craft short, clear, conversational statements, intelligible to non-scientists, about what you do and why it matters”

Annual outreach event

The annual outreach event, the WOMEN Event, brings female high school students and their parents from rural areas around Cornell to experience what scientists and engineers do through hands-on experiments. The WOMEN Event encourages young women to consider majoring in a STEM field. In 2017, the CBE’s WOMEN Event was nationally recognized by the Women in Engineering ProActive Network with the Women in Engineering Initiative Award.

Lisa Walker Travel Grant

In 2016, CBE alumna Lisa Walker ’86 gave a gift of $25,000 to CBE Women to enhance women’s professional development. CBE Women chose to use the gift to create the Lisa Walker Travel Grant to fund travel opportunities for networking events and conferences. Recipients have recently traveled to:

  • Barga, Italy for the Gordon Research Conference on Physical Virology
  • UC Davis and UC Berkeley to test a newly developed water stress sensor with collaborators
  • Florence, Arizona to observe a pilot copper mining operation
  • Oxford, UK for the Perovskite Solar Cells and Optoelectronics Conference

This grant is expected to fund professional development travel for several CBE women through 2019. 

Learn more about CBE Women, including event listings, on their website.

CBE Graduate Student Association (ChEGSA)

The CBE Graduate Student Association has a strong tradition of leading fellowship events, promoting professional development, hosting the annual Graduate Research Symposium, and interfacing with Cornell’s Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. The group also plays an important role in choosing the winners of the Austin Hooey Graduate Research Excellence Awards. Each year the ChEGSA board members assist with new student orientation and recruitment events in addition to serving as peer mentors for new CBE students.

The primary role of the ChEGSA is to provide CBE graduate students with a platform to interact with faculty and the community at large. ChEGSA often works on joint projects and initiatives with CBE Women, as well, including volunteering for their annual WOMEN Event and co-hosting a career seminar series with CBE alumni. 

ChEGSA programming has included:

  • A community-wide board game mixer and bake-off
  • Annual food drive for the Ithaca area
  • Organizing the Graduate Research Symposium and dinner
  • Thanksgiving and Halloween mixers
  • Weekly coffee hours
  • Leadership of intramural sports teams
  • A visit to a manufacturing facility and other professional development trips
  • A “buddy” program for Ph.D. new students

Learn more about ChEGSA, including event listings, on their website.