Dr. Mary Virginia Orna, professor of chemistry at New Rochelle College in New York and editor-at-large of “Chemical Heritage” magazine, visited Ouachita Baptist University as speaker for the Nell Mondy Lecture Series on Monday, Sept. 27. She delivered her lecture titled “Five Thousand Years of Chemistry: A Look at the Secrets of Ancient and Medieval Artists” in Ouachita’s McBeth Recital Hall.
Dr. Joe Jeffers, dean of the J.D. Patterson School of Natural Sciences and friend of Orna, welcomed her as a “highly regarded educator and colleague,” to stay on campus for three days delivering lectures to various classes.
Orna said she would take her lecture “around the world” to analyze art using chemistry and specifically discussed treasures in Israel, art pigment and manufacture in the Middle Ages and examples of de-authentication.
“Chemistry is associated with everything in life,” she said. “I hope the things I have chosen to talk about have a lot of life to them and you are able to think outside of the box.
“It can teach you about the beauty in your life and what it takes to make it beautiful,” she added.
Orna encouraged all students to explore what they love and create a passion for learning.
While the lecture primarily focused on scientific aspects, “students of all majors benefited from this lecture,” Jeffers said. “Since this is a liberal arts college, students want to know how the world works, and looking at art through chemistry is part of that.”
A specialist in the field of color and archaeological chemistry, Orna has presented lectures to various college campuses discussing her work in chemistry. She noted, however, that “Ouachita is my favorite place to come because of its welcoming and warm environment and student reception.”
Orna is currently serving as president of “ChemSource, Inc.,” an effort in chemistry teacher preparation and enhancement funded by the National Science Foundation. She has been a Fulbright Fellow and was named a Fellow of ACS in 2010. She received her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Fordham University and her undergraduate degree at Chestnut Hill College. She has studied internationally in such settings as the Middle East and Italy.
“Orna has a lot of accomplishments and is a perfect example of what students should strive to be,” Jeffers commented. “She has a strong work ethic and good character and I’m honored to call her my friend.”
The Nell Mondy Lecture Series Endowment was established by the late Ouachita alumna Dr. Nell Mondy, who served as a professor of nutritional science, food science and toxicology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The endowment, established at Ouachita in 1991, primarily brings in lecturers focusing on chemistry, food science and nutrition to present their findings to students interested in expanding their knowledge in those areas.
For more information about the Nell Mondy lecture, contact Dr. Joe Jeffers at email@example.com.
By Breanne Goodrum