Comments From the Chair

November 2022 Issue

This issue of the Catalyst snuck up on me in multiple ways. First of all, as soon as I started typing this, I realized that I am typing my last news-letter as the Chair of the Philadelphia Local Section. I did not think this year would go by as quickly as it did. In addition, I was so occupied with planning the last couple of events, that I completely lost track of time.

October started with the dedication of the West Point site as an American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmark for the contri-\bution to the discovery of HIV highly active antiretroviral therapy in the form of Crixivan. The two-hour event included talks by both the scientists who worked on the discovery and development of Crixivan, and an individual who received the life-changing therapy and lived to tell and show us the results. It was an engaging event that brought several people out of their retirement for the occasion.

During the month of October we also honored Dr. Joseph Francisco of the University of Pennsylvania with the 2022 Philadelphia Local Section Award. In return, Dr. Francisco honored us with a lecture outlining some of his recent accomplishments in the field of chemistry.

This month I am looking forward to attending the Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at the Science History Institute. The guest speaker is Dr. Frances Arnold, Nobel Laureate and Caltech professor. She is an engaging speaker, and I am sure we won’t be disappointed with this event. I hope to see many of our members on that Thursday evening.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my last newsletter of the year and therefore I wanted to give you a fast recap of the year. We started with virtual events in the first quarter because of the lingering effects of the pandemic. That did not stop our January guest lecturer, Dr. Hannum, from giving an educational talk virtually about persistent loss of taste and smell caused by COVID-19. In addition, we learned more about what the Monell Sciences Center does and the science that takes place there. The virtual joint event between CCN and YCC was a good time to learn more about what these groups are and what they do for their members.

We cautiously started hosting in-person meetings in April. The first such event was the teaching and scholastic achievement awards that took place at Rutgers University Camden. Then during the summer, we had our annual luncheon to honor 50-. 60- and 70- year members and a multi-society networking event at a local Philadelphia Brewery. Which brings me to fall and the events outlined above.

Unfortunately, the year was not all smooth sailing and if you read the newsletter monthly, as I know you do, some events were cancelled last minute. These cancellations happened for various reasons but instead of planning last minute substitutions, I chose to skip a couple of meetings instead. I really appreciate everyone’s patience this year as we try to get back to more in-person events. As many of us got accustomed to a virtual component, we will strive to provide both options for the Section events in the future.

I would also like to say that many events would not be possible without volunteers. Candice Pelligra single-handedly organized the multi-section networking event this year. Matt Irwin spent many weeks organizing logistics of the Edgar Fahs Smith lecture, which unfortunately was postponed multiple times this year. I am very grateful for their help.

Next year Dr. Graham Dobereiner will take the lead and I am sure he has a fun program in mind for us.

At this point I must say goodbye. Thank you for a great year.

I will not talk to you next month, but I hope to see you at some of the even

October 2022 Issue

For all the dedicated readers of this newsletter, I would like to begin with a September recap. I understand that many of us had been looking for-ward to attending The Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecture last month. Unfortunately, Dr. Squire Booker had to cancel last minute due to personal circumstances. I really hope we can get Prof. Booker to share his research with us next year. Until then, you can probably read a couple of his papers and have an interesting question or two prepared for his visit.

Although we did not have an official Section event in September, the members of the Board were busy planning other exciting events for this fall. Our Chair-Elect, Dr. Graham Dobereiner, is hosting the Section Award in October. Please look for the details about this event in this edition of the Catalyst. This year the Section Award will be given to Dr. Joseph S. Francisco of the University of Pennsylvania. I am sure many of you recognize the name, and if you do not, then you should attend the lecture that will be delivered by Dr. Francisco at the University of Pennsylvania campus.

By popular demand, Dr. Michael Castaldi of the Senior Chemists Committee is hosting another Science History Museum tour for undergraduate students on Saturday, October 8th. This is a great event for undergraduate students to attend because you can learn more about ACS Local Section activities and you get to meet some members of the Board. We are looking for some chemists to get involved in YCC next year and we are willing to discuss open positions with you at this event. If you have any burning questions about careers in chemistry or you want someone to take a look at your resume, this is also the event for you!

I want to make sure I give you plenty of time to sign up for the mini-Leadership Institute that is organized by our Immediate Past-Chair, Dr. Christie McInnis. This event is a collaboration of multiple local sections and it will definitely sell out. As I mentioned last month, this is what typical training for ACS officers looks like. On Saturday, November 5th, you will get a chance to take two courses of your choosing. The course options include Fostering Innovation, Collaborating Across Boundaries, Developing Communications Strategies, and Coaching and Feedback. The class size is limited to provide the best experience possible. You can find the details about the event on our Eventbrite page. I really look forward to seeing you at St. Joseph’s University that day.

Finally, I will share what I have been up to last month. I have been on a mission to organize a Strategic Planning Retreat for our Local Section for about a year now. I finally got the dates for February 2023. As the Section, we had to make quite a few changes to our program over the past couple of years. We have many annual events that we treasure and at the same time we want to introduce new events in the future to serve our members better. At some point next month, you will be getting a survey from us. We would like to hear from you about what you need from us in the future. If you have any suggestions, comments, or complaints, I want to hear it all.

This brings me to the last ask, at least for this month. I am aware that many of you have switched jobs, or at least email addresses. If you want to get (or continue to get) emails from the Local Section with our monthly activities, let us know if you changed your email address. You can do that by emailing us at

That is all I have for now, I will talk to you in November!

September 2022 Issue

Welcome back from summer vacation! I hope you had a chance to rest and get excited for all the ACS events we have planned for you this year. Personally, I am looking forward to the fall season mostly for the lower temperatures. Before I tell you about the future events, let’s recap the summer activities in case you missed them.

In June we hosted the annual luncheon honoring the members with 50, 60 and 70 years of service to the ACS. We had 10 out of 44 honorees attend our luncheon. The members mingled with each other and representatives of the Board. It was a pleasure to get to know the people who have been serving this organization for so many years. When I asked to share their main reason for being ACS members, I was surprised by the wide range of reasons and the love for the C&EN newsletter!

In July we had our informal networking event that was hosted at Love City Brewing in Philadelphia. The event was organized by Candice Pelligra in collaboration with STLE, Engineers Without Borders, Association of Women in Science, AIChE and the Chemical Consultants Network.

Over 40 people attended this event. It was definitely educational to meet representatives from other professional science and engineering organizations to compare how the pandemic affected them and what changes were introduced to their event programming. Given the attendance of this event, we would love to host more joint events in the future.

The National Fall Meeting took place in Chicago from August 21st to August 25th. We are all aware of the stress that is usually associated with preparations for the National meetings so we decided not to have any local events in August. I hope you enjoyed the meeting, whether in person or online, and I encourage you to apply all the lessons you learned about sustainability in your personal and professional lives.

Now let’s see what the fall has to offer!

I am sure you have diligently read this newsletter every month and you may have noticed that some events have been postponed earlier this year due to the increase in number of cases of the certain virus I shall not name here again. I just want to make sure you are ready for the fall activities because our calendar is rather full.

On Monday, September 19th, the Edgar Fahs Smith Lecture will be hosted at the University of Pennsylvania. The guest speaker is Dr. Squire Booker, Evan Pugh University Professor of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Pennsylvania State University. This event was postponed from the spring, and we hope to have another lecture in the spring of 2023.

For September, also be on the lookout for the mini-Leadership Institute that is organized by our Immediate Past-Chair, Dr. Christie McInnis. This event will give you a glimpse into the training that most of the officers of the ACS go through in order to serve you better.

October will bring us another Section Award and the lecture that will accompany that event. Our Chair-Elect, Dr. Graham Dobereiner has been busy all summer encouraging nominations!

I know you all share my hunger for knowledge, so you will definitely be excited to hear the Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture by Nobel laureate Frances Arnold. This hybrid event will take place on Thursday, November 17th.

If you know an exceptional industrial chemist who deserves recognition, you should let us know and nominate them for Industrial Relations Award!

That’s from me this month. I will talk to you in October!

June 2022 Issue

And just like that, we are halfway through the year. Congratulations to all the graduates who finished their degrees last month! I would like to wish you luck in your future undertakings.

The month of May has been filled with a lot of planning for the Local Section. With many pandemic-related cancellations and delays, we had to move several events to the fall of this year, which means we will have a busy fall! I hope everyone will be ready to come out to our in-person events starting in September.

The Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting (MARM) is taking place now at The College of New Jersey. This year the MARM 2022 ACS Division of Chemical Education Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching goes to Ms. Siobhan McVay. If you recall, she got our Section’s award for excellence in high school teaching last year. Ms. McVay’s dedication to teaching is exemplary and I am extremely happy she is recognized on the regional level this year.

On June 16 we are hosting an anniversary luncheon to recognize our 50-, 60-, and 70-year members. Please join us at William Penn Inn at noon for lunch and social hour. This is a great opportunity to meet the local chemists who have been a part of this scientific organization for a long time.

This summer be on a lookout for an email containing information about the networking event we are planning for August. This event will be designed to see the members of various societies in person for the first time in a couple of years. We would like for you to come out and socialize away from the screens and zoom calls.

Time flies fast, at least for me. That’s why I would like to remind you that fall is around the corner! The event calendar will be packed, and some things will sneak up on you, so be pre-pared. First, the Section Award nominations are due August 1. If you know an exceptional chemist, you should nominate them for this award.

In addition, the elections for the Local Section will be happening in the fall. Be on the lookout for that information. This year we have a couple of new faces in the running. It would be a good idea to spend a couple of minutes to go through their bios and maybe that will inspire some of you to be included on election slate in the future. If you have ideas and you want to be more active in the Local Section, you can start by attending a Board meeting. You can find all that in-formation at our website.

Just a reminder, this is the last issue of this newsletter for the summer.

Have a fun filled and restful season, I will talk to you in September!

May 2022 Issue

Spring is finally here! I hope all of you are enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. I do not know about you, but I usually get an energy boost when I can get home before the sunset. I am really trying to apply that energy to productive tasks and annual spring cleaning.

The month of May is special for a couple of reasons. First of all, Moth-er’s Day is around the corner and consider this your reminder to send some love and appreciation to the mothers in your life. May is also a significant month for academia because it is officially graduation season.

This is the time of the year when we usually celebrate the most talented undergraduate students from the chemistry departments across the greater Philadelphia area. These students have worked hard to get to this milestone and the Local Section wants to make sure they know that all the hard work did not go unnoticed. At our April Section Meeting we did just that, by recognizing 21 graduating students with Scholastic Achievement awards on the campus of Rutgers University-Camden. If you flip or scroll a couple of pages, you can read more about the students and their plans after graduation.

In addition to celebrating students, we also want to recognize the educators who taught all these bright students. This year we recognized LeeAnne Fox-Jones of The Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School for Excellence in Pre-College Teaching. Her sense of humor and ingenuity are great attributes in capturing the interest of sixth graders in science. We also awarded Dr. Mark Reynolds of Saint Joseph’s University for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The nomination was organized by students of Dr. Reynolds’ who really wanted the Local Section to know how great a teacher they have.

The award ceremony was a celebration, and it was special for another reason. This was the first in-person Local Section meeting that we’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic. For some of the officers this meeting was the first time we met in person. I am extremely grateful to Dr. David Salas-de la Cruz and Rutgers University – Camden for hosting and making the award ceremony a reality for us. They made everyone feel welcome and facilitated planning of the event during every step.

Although the City of Philadelphia thought about bringing back the mask mandate, we will try our best to go back to in-person events for this year. I am sure all of us are tired of staring at our screens and I would like to limit the number of virtual events in favor of social interactions. For those of us who are still not comfortable with larger gatherings, I will provide you with the summary of what happened at the live events.

On this note, I will let you get back to enjoying the spring weather.

Have a great May and I will talk to you next month!

April 2022 Issue

I would like to begin this month’s column by saying that my heart goes out to everyone whose family and loved ones have been affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I sincerely hope that your loved ones can stay safe during these difficult times.

In March the Awards Committee was busy reviewing the applications for the Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Awards. The finalists were selected and approved by The Board of Directors at our monthly meeting. The recipients of the awards will be honored at the Awards Ceremony on April 5th on the campus of Rutgers-Camden. Dr. Graham Dobereiner and Dr. David Salas-de la Cruz were putting some finishing touches on the planning of this event. I hope to finally see many of you in person this month!

Among other things, last month was full of deadlines. The Local Section submitted its nominations to MARM for the Emmet Reid Award in Chemistry Teaching at a small college and for the ACS Divisions of Chemical Education for Excellence in High School Teaching. The Spring National meeting was in San Diego this year. I hope some of you had a chance to attend and enjoy the weather and the science. The deadlines for the Fall National meeting have passed just a few days ago. Chicago awaits!

With spring arriving, we also enter the season of graduations. Many talented graduating chemists will be honored with Scholastic Achievement Awards at our April 5th meeting. I will share their stories in our next issue.

Under the leadership of Dr. Christine McInnis, we now have links on our website where students can apply for co-ops and internships at local companies. I encourage the students to visit our website and look through the options. Also, if your company is looking for co-ops or interns, we would love to post these opportunities on our website.

I have the pleasure to welcome Robert Wertz on board this month. Robert has joined the Local Section as a part-time administrative assistant. He has many years of experience and is well known for his organizational skills. Robert previously worked as an editorial assistant on Organic Letters, and he is glad to be back to working with ACS. We are lucky to have him!

One last thing before I let you go. I encourage you to check the Section calendar on our website We have been diligent in keeping it up to date with various virtual and in-person activities. To highlight some of the March items, we had a virtual event brought to you by Chinese American Chemical Society and featuring Dr. Gang Chen on March 24th. Another event was a virtual seminar brought to you by the Princeton Local Section about the importance of flavor delivery systems in food applications. As for April, Chem Wars are hosted by the University of the Sciences for undergraduate students on April 2nd. If you have an event you would like to share with the membership, let us know by sending an email to

Have a great April and I will talk to you next month!

March 2022 Issue

For the shortest month of the year, February was packed with activities for the Local Section. Since last month teased us with a couple of days of warm weather sprinkled in between snowy stretches, I embraced the virtual nature of events from the comfort of my heated home.

We started the month with a joint event between the Chemical Consultants Network (CCN) and Younger Chemists Committee (YCC). This event was a great opportunity to learn more about both CCN and YCC. Each group highlighted what they have done for their membership in the past and talked about their goals, challenges, and changes in operations due to pandemic.

The Board of Directors meeting was held on the second Thursday of the month, and you can read the meeting minutes in our next issue of the Catalyst. This was one of the meetings where I truly appreciated the dedication of some individuals who have served the Local Section for decades; the joint memory of the Board members is a great asset for novices to the table.

Trivia night concluded the month of February, but I will tell you more about that in the next issue.

In other news, the Industrial Relations Committee and the Event Planning Committee are meeting and talking more about their plans for this year. If you have any ideas for events or would like to join any of the committees, do not be shy and let us know by sending an email to

There are currently no plans for the March Edgar Fahs Smith Lecture or a March Meeting.

Dr. Graham Dobereiner and Dr. David Salas-de la Cruz are busy planning the April meeting, which will be the first in-person meeting in almost two years! On April 5th, we will host a combined awards ceremony for the Student Scholastic Achievement Awards, the Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching on the campus of Rutgers-Camden. You can find more details about this event and register on the following pages. If you feel comfortable, we encourage you to attend this in-person event and meet the brightest chemistry students graduating from the schools of the Philadelphia area, along with the teachers who inspire them every time they walk into a classroom. If you know an exceptional educator of chemistry or an especially bright student, you still have a couple of days to submit a nomination!

In comparison to February, March will be less busy. You can take time to recharge and take care of your mental health while the hours of sunlight are increasing with each passing day. We always welcome guests at the Board meetings and if you wish to attend, please register in advance by following the link found on our website.

Have a great March and I will talk to you next month!

February 2022 Issue

I hope everyone had a pleasant January and enjoyed the first snow of the season. Most of us eased into this year and I hope all of us are energized and ready for February activities. Before I share what I have planned for this month, I will review the main events of January.

The Board of Directors meeting this month had some new faces. You can read the minutes of the January meeting in the March issue of the Catalyst. We are back on track with publishing the Board of Directors meeting minutes every month thanks to our new secretary, Sister Rose B. Mulligan.

The first Section meeting this year was held on January 11th with Dr. Mackenzie Hannum as the guest speaker. Dr. Hannum is a postdoctoral fellow at Monell Chemical Senses Center. She talked about the persistent loss of taste and smell in COVID-19 patients. Those of you who at-tended the National ACS Conference last year probably have learned all aspects of the virus and the vaccines from both biological and chemical perspectives. Dr. Hannum elucidated a different side of how the virus affects the senses of infected individuals. The attendees learned about the difference between taste loss and scent loss. Dr. Hannum was engaging with the audience throughout the presentation and was even able to comment on someone’s at-home sensory COVID test!

As a part of this lecture, the audience also learned a bit more about The Monell Center. If you have walked between the campuses of Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania and have seen a giant golden nose statue, you have walked past The Monell Center. This is the only independent and non-profit scientific institute that studies senses of taste, smell, and chemesthesis. Scientists from many disciplines collaborate to improve health and well-being of humans by advancing scientific understanding of senses. Decades of combined experience at the Monell Center make it possible to find answers to current and pressing questions about public health, environment, and quality of life. Commitment, Collaboration, Open Communication, Mentor-ship, and Broad Impact are the core values by which the Monell Center operates.

Collaboration is an important pillar of science. It leads to unique ideas and important discoveries. It helps people see problems from a different angle, which potentially can lead to unexpected solutions. The February Section event is a collaboration of the Chemical Consultants Network and Younger Chemists Committee (see page 15 for details). The meeting will begin with an introduction to each group where they will share their missions and challenges. The second half of the meeting will be an open discussion session for the participants to share their ideas.

As I have mentioned already, we do have some new faces on the Board this year. That is why I want to follow in footsteps of the past Chair and have a fun event where we can meet people in a more relaxed and fun atmosphere. Please join me for a virtual trivia event on February 23rd at 7 PM. You will be tested on your knowledge of the Philadelphia Section of ACS and maybe even some chemistry!

Have a great February and I will talk to you next month!

January 2022 Issue

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a chance to get a little rest and all of you are energized for the new year full of activities! I would like to begin this issue by thanking all the members of the Philadelphia Local Section for putting your trust in me and letting me serve as your 2022 Chair. I am both honored and excited for this position. This is my first time serving in this role and I will do my best to lead the members through the new year.

As a Section, we experienced two challenging years back-to-back. We planned events that got postponed, other traditional events had to go fully virtual and therefore had to change. Some events we cancelled completely in order not to subject our members to more Zoom fatigue.
I plan to build upon the goals of the previous chair and make the transition as smooth as possible. One of my goals for 2022 will be to host some of the great events that were planned for 2021, but got cancelled, like the mini-leadership institute. I plan to proceed with caution on the journey back to in-person events. At this time, I plan to have the teaching awards ceremony be the first Section in-person event of 2022. I look forward to the ceremony in April and I will ad-just my plan accordingly based on the outcomes of the event. Safety of the members is my priority, and I will make sure that the program for this year reflects that.

The Philadelphia Local Section is one of the larger local sections of ACS. Our location is most likely the main reason for that since the Greater Philadelphia area has many different universities along with industries that employ chemists. This year I would like to highlight some of the local schools and businesses that are founded on chemistry. I plan to incorporate that goal into both the event program and the contents of the Catalyst.

The final goal I have for 2022 is to host a Strategic Planning Retreat (SPR). The Section has experienced a lot of changes recently. At the beginning of pandemic, we thought that virtual meetings would be temporary, but almost two years later they became a new normal. In addition, there were changes introduced to ACS at the national level, like different membership packages. Taking into consideration all these events, I think next year is the perfect time to host SPR. This will be a weekend for the Local Section and all the governance groups to meet and, with the guidance of ACS facilitators, we will revisit our mission and develop goals for the future of the Section. Planning is something I enjoy doing and I would like to take this opportunity as the Chair to host SPR and be part of the team that creates an actionable strategic plan for the future of the Section.

As your Chair this year, I want to make sure all the members are benefiting from our events. If you have any suggestions about future events, don’t hesitate to reach out! If you have free time and would like to volunteer, also reach out! We always have something going on and we love our volunteers for both in-person and virtual tasks!

I am looking forward to this year and this new role for me as part of ACS. Talk to you next month!