2020 Welcome Back Happy Hour

On Tuesday, February 3rd, WIC hosted a Welcome Back Happy Hour at Vester for first years, their WIC mentors, and general members of WIC. We were happy to catch up with our friends and touch base with our mentees before the spring semester picked up. WIC would like to thank 3rd year Grace Ahlqvist for planning the event.

From left to right, Francesca Vaccaro, Alison Biester, Grace Ahlqvist, and Gisele Andree.
From left to right, Elaine Reichert, Merjema Purak, Mikaila Hoffman, Katherine Walker, and Kristyn Flynn.
From Left to right, Jessica Beard, Kayla Storme, Christine Isabella, Sophia Weng, and Cassandra Zentner.

Cassandra Zentner and Francesca Vaccaro honored with inaugural Department Service Award

WIC was proud to see two of our active members honored with the inaugural Departmental Service Award, which seeks to recognize outstanding contributions to the department. In an effort to recognize often invisible labor and celebrate the students who go above and beyond to make the department a welcoming place for all students, we are sharing the nominations for both Cassie and Francesca.


Cassandra Zentner (Swager) currently serves as the WIC Mentorship Chair.

About Cassie, Christine and Katherine write:

Cassie Zentner is a ubiquitous presence during the first two years for many graduate women in the department. Whether you can put a face to her name or not, she has a hand in helping you through your first year at MIT, your second year orals, and helping you become established in the department. Cassie revamped the Women in Chemistry mentorship program beginning two years ago, as a second year. She has implemented better matching criteria and new events to build community, and carried on the tradition of a first year dinner. She is engaged in individual department members’ growth and struggles, and is always willing to volunteer her time or knowledge for new projects. Outside of Women in Chemistry, Cassie has served as an excellent support to TAs, providing them with the tools they need to effectively teach 5.12. She was always happy to meet when I was a first year Head TA for fall and spring 5.12 and gave me helpful notes on what to expect. With all that she does for the department, as both an individual and a member of WIC, Cassie never wants to be singled out for praise, and is exceedingly humble. She does many types of invisible service, where only those who work with her directly might notice. This type of service is invaluable, yet is not often enough recognized, and through this service Cassie has enhanced her lab, WIC, and the department as a whole.

Francesca Vaccaro (Drennan) is a WIC Member as well as a co-president of the Chemistry Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion (CADI).

About Francesca, Mani Mengiste writes:

Simply put, my first year at MIT would not be the same without the constant support and friendship of Francesca. I know that many fellow first years would agree.
In addition to constantly taking the time to meet with many of us over a meal (one-on-one), she helped welcome us to WIC and CADI by independently organizing hangouts. In October, she organized a pumpkin carving party at her place of residence and brought together many graduate students and post-docs over a fun activity. That night was particularly important for many of us (first-years) because we got a chance to talk to older graduate students about the groups that we were thinking about joining in a way that did not feel very forced. She introduced us to other members of the MIT Chemistry community who have since become part of our larger support network. She has also constantly worked to build/improve CADI. As a student of color, the events that Francesca helped organize have made me feel welcome and loved.
Thank you both for all of your time and efforts, both in our WIC community and beyond. We are so lucky to have you!

WIC Plant Potting Night

On July 24th, 2019, WIC hosted a summer plant potting social. Members of the department donated cuttings from their personal collections, and we all met outside the Koch center for an evening of plant potting, snacks, and music. Members picked their favorite plants and were given care instructions. It was a great mid-summer break from lab, and everyone got to take home a new desk plant!

Apple Picking Retreat 2015!


We made our annual trek to Shelburne Farm on October 4th! Despite a rainy week leading up to our trip, it turned into a beautiful day to be outdoors. Many apple varieties were ripe for picking, so we had a lot to choose from. And of course, after apple picking, we had to get our fill of cider donuts (yum!). Spending time with new and old friends was a great way to kick off the fall season!

WIC celebrates Pi(e) Day!