Chemistry Graduate Student Outreach Highlight: Ian Winchester

Compiled and edited for clarity by Hannah Musgrove

Ian Winchester

GSAS Council Representative

Hilinski Lab- Chemical Biology

3rd year

The Department of Chemistry’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) and their connection with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences council (GSASC) aim to amplify student voices within the college. The students and faculty who sit on these councils are dedicated to providing resources and community support for graduate students. In this highlight, ChemSciComm had the opportunity to learn more about Ian’s perspective on outreach as a graduate student, serving as a council representative between both GSC and GSAS.

Can you describe your outreach positions in the department?

“I act as liaison between the Department of Chemistry’s Graduate Student Council and the GSAS Council (GSASC). I also sit as a General Education Committee Co-Chair on the GSASC. Much of my outreach involves meeting with different Deans and Assistant Deans of the GSAS to advocate for graduate student priorities that will improve student life. For instance, I have been involved with advocating for more transparency between the Administration and students on disbursed stipends and wages. Also, I have been working with Dean Scherz about the continuation of the Bridge Program and understanding how Bridge students can help with the GSAS gaining funding and feedback for the program. There are a few other initiatives in the works as well.”

What does your current work look like and were you especially drawn to a particular research project?

“Currently, I am working in the Hilinski lab on synthesizing new molecules to help treat cancer. I have been involved in neuroscience and organic chemistry research in the past. So, my project fits well with my experience.”

What inspired you to become involved in GSC and GSASC? Are there any particularly rewarding aspects of your experience in this role so far?

“I wanted to improve student life. I have always been involved in student government, even in undergrad, and wanted to continue because I enjoy it so much.

Having the opportunity to work with the higher administration of GSAS and meet the Deans has been particularly rewarding as I get to interact with those who can change University policy for graduate students.”

What does it mean to you to be a part of the Chemistry Community, and what advice would you give to students wanting to get more involved in the department?

“I value being a member of the Chemistry Community as I am surrounded by intelligent and ambitious people who care about others in the graduate community.

My advice would be to put yourself out there! Even if it is a small role, getting involved can lead to huge personal rewards and improvement for student well-being. There are many different positions the chemistry department has for getting involved in the Chemistry Community and even in the greater graduate community.”


Thank you, Ian, for sharing part of your graduate school story with us and for sharing in the work of representing the graduate student community! Sharing our unique journeys through STEM enables us to connect and grow as a community, and we appreciate all the work our graduate students do for our department.

If you’re a graduate student and are interested in any of the outreach opportunities GSC and GSASC provides, more information can be found on the Graduate Chemistry Program Clubs & Organizations page on the UVA Chemistry Department website. Students are also invited to keep an eye out for their department emails, as all graduate students in the department are welcome to join in open GSC and GSASC meetings as they occur. Faculty advisors and leading members of the organizations may be contacted for additional information, and they are happy to connect with students to answer questions.