Alpha Chi Sigma is the longest-standing science fraternity in the U.S. and is now the University of Richmond’s largest chemistry organization on campus.
Senior Eric Chang, president of ΑΧΣ, said the professional fraternity was entering its second semester of being officially recognized as a chapter of the national organization.
When Chang was a sophomore, he and a group of friends noted interest in creating a chemistry fraternity on campus, Chang said.
“We wanted to start a community within Gottwald,” Chang said. “If you ask any Gottwald kid, they’ll tell you they spend a ridiculous amount of hours in there and it’s giving them an opportunity to meet people who are doing the same thing as you.”
Sophomore Katie Pokorny is the current recruitment chair for ΑΧΣ. Pokorny became a member in spring 2017.
“Everyone is kind of nerdy and we bond in that way,” Pokorny said. “No pun intended.”
Three professional brothers, Diane Kellogg, Michael Leopold and Jonathan Dattelbaum, are faculty members who helped the UR chapter begin.
Leopold, a professor of chemistry as well as an analytical chemist studying nanomaterials in biomedical-diagnosis situations, serves as the faculty chapter advisor for ΑΧΣ. He was also one of the founding ΑΧΣ members at James Madison University when he was an undergraduate student.
“The students were so compelling," Leopold said. “It’s hard to say no.”
The UR colony became its own chapter in the fall of 2017 after being linked with the existing University of Virginia chapter.
This semester’s rush process included a few different events for potential new members to meet and hang out with current brothers including baking cookies to look like the periodic table and hosting a pizza party, Chang said.
After its spring rush, ΑΧΣ has a total of 40 members on campus as well as eight pledges, and will continue to grow, Chang said.
ΑΧΣ has a strong focus on community involvement, especially with younger students, Chang said. It's put on science shows, making slime or nitrogen liquid, in an effort to promote science to students around Richmond.
“It’s a way to blow off steam while doing philanthropy work and outreach programs," Chang said.
Chang hopes that at least every chemistry major is in ΑΧΣ within ten years, he said. The chapter wants to continue to grow its membership and excite its brothers with different outreach programs.
The brotherhood ΑΧΣ creates is one of the main draws of the fraternity, Leopold said. Many science majors have to work long hours, and ΑΧΣ gives these students an ability to be there for each other, he said.
“It was already a brotherhood long before we gave it a name,” Leopold said. "These kids are going to be the next generation of doctors and scientists, and it's nice to recognize that they're going to need each other."
Contact contributor Meredith Scroggin at email@example.com.