June 6, 2012
Leah Rubin, a second-year graduate student in the research lab of chemistry professor John Arnold, is the 2012 recipient of the Iota Sigma Pi Members-at-Large Re-entry Award.
The Members-at-Large Re-entry Award is awarded annually by Iota Sigma Pi to honor the achievement of a female chemistry student who has returned to academic study after an absence of three or more years and who exhibits exceptional personal qualities, academic excellence and professional potential in chemistry.
Rubin was born in Santa Cruz, CA, and graduated from high school there in 2001. For college, her parents suggested she apply to schools in different regions of the country, so she could experience what life was like further away from home. Little did they know just how well their daughter would honor their request.
Rubin graduated with a B.A. in chemistry and music from Case Western University in Cleveland, OH, in 2005. She remained in the area for two years to work for the German firm BASF at a location that focuses on construction chemicals.
After accumulating a few years of work experience, Rubin considered what to do next. She recalled being impressed with Peace Corps veterans whom she had met in high school, so she decided to volunteer. She was assigned to be a science teacher in Namibia, a country on the southwest coast of Africa. While there, she had time to ponder life after her service, and she concluded she wanted to pursue a chemistry Ph.D.
In the fall of 2010, after finishing two years in the Peace Corps, Rubin came to the College of Chemistry, where she is one of the Arnold group’s resident electrochemists and where she works on catalysis for hydrogen fuel cells.
After traveling halfway around the world, she finds herself back in Northern California, to the delight of her family, who are just a two-hour drive away in Santa Cruz.
Iota Sigma Pi was founded in 1902 and was organized on a nationwide basis in 1916. Its major objectives are to promote interest in chemistry among women students, foster their mutual advancement and stimulate personal accomplishments in chemical fields. More than 40 local chapters have been established in various colleges, universities and metropolitan areas, and more than 10,000 members have been initiated into the organization.