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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Midwest Retreat for Diversity in Chemistry?
    The Midwest Retreat for Diversity in Chemistry (MWRDC) is an annual retreat geared toward early-career scientists in chemistry-related fields. This intimate event (< 70 people) places an emphasis on professional development and diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation (DEIR) in the field of chemistry. The goal of MWRDC is the retention of underrepresented groups in chemistry careers and their advancement into leadership roles. Retreat attendees will have the opportunity to network with chemists in various career sectors (academia, industry, government, and nontraditional careers), present their academic research during an informal poster session, attend various workshops and breakout sessions, and take away valuable knowledge and improved soft skills to promote success in their chemistry career paths and lives.
  • Why should I attend the 2024 MWRDC?
    MWRDC is an opportunity for you to interact with other chemists in a setting outside the lab and university and to talk about more than just your research. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to figure out how to move forward in our career with the resources we have. Meeting successful chemists – some in established careers, some with unconventional career paths, and some in careers you’ve never heard of – can be eye-opening and help you figure out what trajectory makes sense for you. And going through this whole process with peers who are in the same situation helps you realize you are not alone and should rely on one another more as you move forward. In our 2022 retreat exit survey, one attendee said “[MWRDC] gives us a chance to talk to people in-the-know. It is a great opportunity to network. It is a small setting that allows for real feedback from many different people in different phases of their careers and lives.” You can read more testimonials from previous retreat attendees here and learn what they got out of MWRDC.
  • Who can register to attend the retreat?
    Any graduate student (M.S. or Ph.D.) or postdoctoral scholar in chemistry or a closely-related field is welcome to attend our retreat! You do not need to be from the Midwest, but keep in mind that travel expenses are your responsibility. We do not accept undergraduate students to the retreat as the session topics and information might not be relevant to them yet.
  • When and where is this year's retreat being held?
    The 2024 MWRDC will be held at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. Learn more here.
  • What is the itinerary for the weekend?
    The retreat starts Friday, June 28th mid-afternoon and officially ends on Sunday, June 30th around noon. The tentative itinerary can be found here.
  • Do I have to stay for the entire retreat weekend?
    MWRDC is a weekend-long retreat focused on professional development and networking. To get the full retreat experience, you should plan to stay the entire time and participate in all sessions. Since sessions start early and end late, we provide you with on-site housing and meals as a part of your registration.
  • Is the poster session at the retreat required? What if I don’t have any research to present on?
    Presenting science can be scary, but it will not get easier if you don’t try. The point of the poster session at MWRDC is not to give the perfect elevator pitch or convince someone that you deserve a PhD. This retreat session is an informal, safe learning space to get feedback on your presentation skills and network with others. We want you to practice making a poster and practice talking about your work with someone who has no clue what you do. You also have the chance to go around and see others’ cool research, network, and learn something new! If you don’t have a research project yet or aren’t comfortable sharing your results, you can even make a poster about relevant literature in your research area or a topic that interests you.
  • Is the poster session considered a 'closed meeting'?
    Yes! No photography is permitted at the poster session and all attendees are notified of this policy.
  • How many breakouts do I get to attend and how does it work?
    The list of potential breakout sessions topics for the 2024 MWRDC are provided here. During registration, we will ask you to provide your top 4 choices for these sessions. At the retreat, you will get to attend 2 breakout sessions. While we will do our best to give you your top 2 breakout choices, this is dependent on scheduling and facilitator availability. All materials from these breakout sessions will be available to you after the retreat so you can review resources from sessions you didn’t get to attend too!
  • What does housing look like?
    Lodging at Bradley University dormitories is included in the cost of registration. Each unit will have two beds - restrooms/shower spaces are available on each floor. As some of Bradley University’s halls are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we will place guests with special accessibility needs on the first floor of these buildings. We will have two people per unit, meaning two people will share the dorm room space with two beds, and all attendees will share bathroom space with others on their floor. Rooms will be assigned by the retreat organizing committee. You may indicate what type of unit you would like to be placed in during registration: male only, female only, or no preference. Linens will be provided and include a blanket, sheet, pillow, and towels.
  • I don’t want to stay in the housing provided by MWRDC. Can I stay off-site?
    Staying on-site at Bradley University is a great way to network and unwind with fellow MWRDC attendees at the end of a long day of learning! It’s also included in registration and much cheaper than booking a hotel room in the area. While we encourage everyone to take advantage of the lodging included in the registration fee, we understand some may choose to commute to/from the retreat or prefer to stay in a hotel. Regardless of whether you are staying on-site or off-site, the cost of registration is still $150. If you choose to stay off-site, you are responsible for arranging and paying for your lodging, and commuting to/from the retreat to attend all sessions on-time.
  • What kind of meals are offered?
    Meals will be served in the dining hall at Bradley for breakfast (Saturday and Sunday morning), lunch (Saturday afternoon), and dinner (Friday and Saturday evening). All meals will be buffet-style with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options will be available. Additional allergens (shellfish, nuts, etc.) can be conveyed to us during registration and will be provided to staff in preparation for the event. Snacks and light refreshments (coffee, tea, cookies, etc.) will be provided periodically between retreat activities, such as panel discussions and breakout sessions. Alcoholic beverages will be provided by us during select social events at the retreat, but are not permitted otherwise on campus or in the dorms. You are welcome to bring extra non-alcoholic beverages and/or snacks to share during free time activities.
  • How are you handling accessibility for all attendees?
    We want to ensure all retreat attendees will be able to participate in and enjoy retreat activities. To help us better support your needs, please tell us during registration if you have any specific concerns or needs during the retreat. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us directly at mwrdc@iastate.edu.
  • How are you planning on handling COVID-19?
    We are following the current CDC guidelines for COVID-19. While masks are not required, we highly encourage guests to wear them to protect themselves and others. Participants who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or illness during the retreat should alert MWRDC planning committee members via email to mwrdc@iastate.edu.
  • Can I bring alcohol to the retreat or have drink in my dorm room?
    The MWRDC has obtained special permission to provide beer and wine during select social events at the retreat through a licensed bartender. Attendees are not permitted to bring or consume alcohol in the dorms or on campus, unless distributed by the MWRDC.
  • When does registration close?
    Registration for the 2024 MWRDC will close on June 1st, 2023 or once spots are filled up – whichever is first. You can register here.
  • How much does registration cost and what's included?
    Registration is $150 per attendee. This includes the cost of your lodging and linens for two nights, all meals during the duration of the retreat, snacks/beverages, and retreat materials.
  • I just registered for the retreat! How can I get my receipt?
    Once you successfully complete your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with your registration information and the amount you paid.
  • I already registered for MWRDC 2023, but I can’t attend anymore. Can I get a refund?
    Please email registrations@iastate.edu if your plans have changed and you can no longer attend the retreat. If you notify us before June 1st, 2024 and request a refund, your registration will be cancelled and you will receive a refund of $130 ($20 deducted for credit card fees). If you learn you cannot attend the retreat after June 1st, we cannot provide a refund. However, we do welcome substitutions -- a friend or colleague is welcome to take your place at the retreat. Please let us know in advance by emailing registrations@iastate.edu and mwrdc@iastate.edu if you are no longer planning to attend or will have a substitute join us.
  • Are there any scholarship opportunities or ways to get my registration fee covered?
    Yes! There are a few ways you can get your registration fee (and possibly travel to the retreat) covered. 1) The MWRDC Registration Award is a need-based award which covers the $150 registration fee. The application to be considered for this award closes on June 1st with Registration. Due to limited funds available, registrants must complete registration in order to be considered for the registration award. - see our Registration page for more details. 2) You can ask your PI or faculty mentor if they can cover your registration. (See below for more details on how to do this) You can also reach out to your department chair, graduate college, your institution’s DEI Office, or even local ACS sections. 3) Some institutions have expressed interest in financially supporting their students' attendance to the retreat - see our Registration page for more details. If you are affiliated with these institutions, please reach out to the appropriate contacts to request financial assistance for the retreat.
  • How do I ask for permission/funding to go to the MWRDC?
    Your PI or faculty mentor in your department may be able to provide funding to support your attendance of the MWRDC. Below, we have provided a guide on how you can request assistance and explain the MWRDC retreat in a succinct way. 1) First, you should describe what the MWRDC is. Here's a description: The Midwest Retreat for Diversity in Chemistry was created by Prof. Robbyn Anand at Iowa State University. The goal of the retreat is "the retention of underrepresented groups in chemistry careers and their advancement into leadership roles. We aim to teach graduate and postdoctoral chemists a positive and proactive approach to their careers. Specifically, the retreat will connect attendees to a close-knit network of colleagues and mentors, teach strategies for career success, and provide a toolkit for success in their chemistry career paths." There will be workshops on scientific communication, bias, and mental wellness, as well as breakout sessions, a research poster session, and three career panels. The weekend-long retreat will be held on Friday, June 28rd to Sunday, June 30th, 2023 at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. 2) Tell your PI/faculty mentor why you want to go. To strengthen your reasoning, you could include some skills that you are hoping to gain at the retreat (e.g., networking, interviews, job application tips, communication, etc.). You can even mention that you will be presenting your research during poster session. 3) Lastly, if your PI/faculty mentor typically supports conference travel, you can ask them to financially support your registration fee. You could say something like: As you can see, I am really excited to attend MWRDC this year. Would you be willing to financially support my attendance? The registration fee is set at $150 and includes all retreat sessions, housing for two nights, and meals/beverages.
  • I’ve registered for the retreat. Now what?
    We’re excited to meet you this June at the 2024 MWRDC! Stay tuned for emails from the Planning Committee closer to the date of the retreat. We’ll tell you what to bring, who you can carpool with, where to park, what breakout sessions you’ll be in, etc.
  • What's the dress code for this event?
    Casual - we want you to focus on the content not on how you look. If you want to dress up, especially for the poster session or group photo, you are welcome to do so. 😊
  • Do you have travel advice?
    If you are driving to MWRDC, you may wish to carpool with people from your university, In June, we will send out an email to everyone with a list of attendees from your university if you want to coordinate. Bradley University is only ~15 minutes from Peoria International Airport (PIA). If you are traveling from further away, you could consider flying in for the retreat and using Uber/Lyft/etc. to get to Bradley University. Once you arrive on-site, you don’t need a car for the duration of the retreat but are welcome to explore the Peoria area before and after retreat sessions!
  • What's the cost breakdown of the retreat?
    Hosting a retreat is not cheap! It costs about $37,000 to have the 2024 MWRDC. This includes the cost of panelists and workshop leaders’ travel, accommodations and meals for all invited contributors and attendees, renting event space, workshop materials, retreat break service and snacks, a few registration fee waivers, and more. Your registration fee for the retreat helps cover a fraction of these retreat expenses, primarily those associated with your lodging and meals. As a result, you only pay $150 instead of ~$600. Throughout the year, the MWRDC Planning Committee fundraises to help subsidize the cost of attendance for the retreat. We are extremely thankful to all our sponsors for their continued support of MWRDC and for helping us keep the cost of registration low. You can find a list of our sponsors here.
  • I am interested in learning more about the Planning Committee. Who can I contact?
    You can see the current group of MWRDC Planning Committee members here. We are a hard-working, dedicated group of graduate students led by Dr. Robbyn Anand at Iowa State University. Members of the Planning Committee members come from various Midwest universities and we are always looking for passionate new committee members to help us plan the next retreat. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at mwrdc@iastate.edu.
  • I still have questions about the retreat. Who can I contact?
    You can send an email to mwrdc@iastate.edu. Someone from the committee will get back to you as soon as possible. We're a group of graduate students, so please do not feel intimidated by contacting us! You can start your email with “Hi committee, I have a question about the MWRDC retreat...”
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