2024 Gordon Cain Conference

This conference will focus on the value and use of historical biographies in contemporary STEM and social studies education. Organized by Cain Conference Fellow Sibrina Collins, participants will explore how sharing the stories of diverse scientists can help young girls and people of color see themselves as valuable contributors to the field, historically and in the future.

Registration for this conference will open in the spring.

Call for Papers

Connecting with people is at the heart of storytelling. Studies have shown that sharing a compelling story about someone who has made a new contribution, tool, or discovery may inspire a student to pursue their own career in a STEM field.i We invite proposals for presentations or panels that focus on writing, adapting, and teaching with historical scientific biographies and narratives in the context of different formats including:

  • course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE)
  • discussion and/or laboratory courses in K–12 and higher education
  • large lecture courses (including flipped classroom formats)
  • asynchronous online courses and multimedia production
  • public learning environments (e.g. churches, museums, and libraries)

We welcome proposals from educators, scholars, historians and biographers, editors and publishers, collections professionals, and others with a professional interest in the use of historical biographies in education. Interested applicants should submit an abstract of no more than 300 words and a brief autobiographical sketch (50–100 words) by February 29, 2024. Questions and submissions should be sent to biographies@sciencehistory.org.

Conference Organizer

Sibrina N. Collins received a BA in chemistry with honors from Wayne State University and a PhD in inorganic chemistry from The Ohio State University. From July 2016 until January 2023 Collins served as founding executive director of the Marburger STEM Center on the campus of Lawrence Technological University. Beginning January 2023, she was appointed as Executive Director of STEM Education for the College of Arts and Sciences (CoAS) at Lawrence Tech. In 2018 she received the Real McCoy Award in Science from the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) for her leadership and public engagement efforts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. Her research efforts include inorganic chemistry, chemical education, history of chemistry, and addressing inclusion and equity in the STEM fields.

Collins is an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), serving as an Associate Member on the National Historic Chemical Landmark (NHCL) Subcommittee. She has published in ACS journals including Inorganic Chemistry, the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, and the Journal of Chemical Education. She served as editor of the ACS Symposium Series Volume 1381 entitled African American Chemists: Academia, Industry and Social Entrepreneurship. She has authored a book chapter in the ACS Symposium Series Volume 1370 entitled “Inorganic Chemistry: Vibranium and Marvel Studios’ Black Panther,” and “Critical Mass Takes Courage: Diversity in the Chemical Sciences” published in the ACS Symposium Series Volume 1256. In 2020, Collins’s career pathway was featured in the “Career Ladder” spotlight published by Chemical & Engineering News.

About the Gordon Cain Conference

The Gordon Cain Conference is a gathering of scholars in the history of science and related fields. Each conference is organized by an eminent scholar who works with staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. Centered on a topic chosen by the conference organizer, the conference consists of an evening public lecture, a symposium, and a collected volume. It is hosted by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry and supported by a generous gift from Gordon Cain.


Featured Image: Photograph of Dr. Bettye Washington Greene (1935-1995), Dow Chemical Company.

iCollins, S.N. The importance of storytelling in chemical education. Nature Chemistry. 13, 1–2 (2021).

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