Comments From the Chair

June 2023 Issue

Summer is nearly here, and so too the summer break for the Catalyst. Thank you to all the volunteers who make our Local Section’s activities so vibrant and thank you to the Executive Committee for all your help in planning and executing this year’s events.

There are two events I want to mention. First is our 50-, 60- and 70-year member luncheon on June 22nd (see the June Meeting Announcement later in this issue for details.) I am delighted that Albert Horvath, CEO of the ACS, will be in attendance to congratulate members on their achievement.

In July we will have a family-friendly Cookout in FDR park in Philadelphia on July 22nd, with hot dogs, burgers, and outdoor games. More on this event will be sent separately by email to the Section. Thanks to Ivona Sasimovich for planning this event.

Looking forward to seeing you around – and as always, please don’t hesitate to contact
me if you have any ideas or suggestions!

May 2023 Issue

Last month we celebrated our Scholastic Achievement Awards and Awards for Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and Undergraduate Teaching. This is one of the Section’s most important events and it takes the cooperation of many to succeed. I thank the faculty and staff at area institutions who nominated our Scholastic Achievement awardees, as well as the nominators of our Teaching awardees. I also want to thank our hosts at Arcadia University – Professor Linda Mascavage and Ms. Heather Sherman – as well as the Section Awards Committee and its Chair, Dr. Matt Irwin, for making the event possible.

Many of our Section’s activities so far this year have focused on applauding the achievements of outstanding students, educators, and researchers.  Recognizing these accomplishments allows our Section to have an impact on our membership and our community – but it is far from the only way!

Our Strategic Plan survey showed strong interest from our membership in volunteer opportunities. These activities can strengthen the bonds between our members while showing the broader community a more human side of the chemical discipline. I encourage you to take part in these activities, such as our May 2023 event at MANNA (see announcement in this issue of the Catalyst). My sincere thanks to Dr. Candice Pelligra and Ivona Sasimovich for spearheading this event.

If you have other ideas for outreach activities, please let me know. As always, thanks to all of you for your support of the Section!

April 2023 Issue

This month, Dr. Squire J. Booker gave the 2023 Edgar Fahs Smith lecture at the University of Pennsylvania. In his lecture, Dr. Booker spoke of his group’s recent discovery of an astonishing C-C bond forming reaction promoted by a radical S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) archaean enzyme. His outstanding scholarship and interdisciplinary approach made Dr. Booker a perfect choice for this year’s Edgar Fahs Smith lecture. Thanks to the UPenn Dept. of Chemistry for both hosting and broadcasting this event, and to Chair-elect Matt Irwin for his help planning it.

I want to highlight that Dr. Booker’s lecture was attended both in-person and virtually. Part of the Section’s Strategic Plan is focused on making our events more accessible and inclusive to all. In the spirit of this effort, we aim to make all presentations and lectures available virtually to Section members. If you are interested in getting involved in working to make our Section more accessible and inclusive, please let me know:

The April presentation of our Scholastic Achievement Awards and Awards for Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and Undergraduate Teaching are now just days away. We are excited to congratulate our winners at Arcadia on April 20th. If you would like to attend, details can be found later in this issue of the Catalyst.

Thanks to all of you for your support of the Section.

March 2023 Issue

March is going to be an exciting month for the Section! This year’s Edgar Fahs Smith lecture will be presented by Dr. Squire J. Booker, Evan Pugh University Professor of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The Pennsylvania State University. I look forward to seeing many you at this lecture on March 16th. You can find more information about the lecture in this month’s issue of the Catalyst.

Also this month, the Senior, Younger, Disabilities, Women’s and Career Chemist Committees will be offering a tour of the Science History Institute for undergraduate students. This event will be held Saturday, March 4th. If your school or students are interested, please email Michael Castaldi:

After last month’s Strategic Planning Retreat, the Executive Committee now has a strategic plan for the future of the Philadelphia Section. Our goals for the next three years include reaching out more often to our membership to better understand your priorities and values; bolstering the Section’s communication to membership, other institutions, and the community; and making our organization more inclusive and our events more accessible. Thanks to all of those who participated, as well as our facilitators, Martha Lester and Wayne Jones – and of course, all Section members who offered their input on our survey. Immediate Past Chair Ivona Sasimovich will champion the strategic plan’s implementation in the coming months.

April marks the presentation of our Scholastic Achievement Awards, as well as our Awards for Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and Undergraduate Teaching. My thanks to Chair-elect and Awards Committee Chair Matt Irwin for his planning and organizing efforts.

As always, please reach out with any suggestions, ideas for programming, or questions about getting involved in our work. Thanks, and looking forward to seeing you at our events!

February 2023 Issue

A heartfelt “Thank You!” goes to all the members that completed the Strategic Planning survey. This month’s Strategic Planning Re-treat will have Section leadership use this member input in deter-mining a set of goals for our Section. With a strategy for meeting these goals, the executive committee and the Board can ensure that the Section is serving our membership as effectively as possible. I’m very much looking forward to sharing the results of this strategic planning process with you. Thanks to Immediate Past Chair Ivona Sasimovich for her leadership in initiating the strategic planning.

For this month’s meeting, the Section will host a virtual seminar by Stefan Kilyanek. Stefan has been a professor at the University of Arkansas since 2014; he previously trained at the University of Chicago and MIT in organometallic chemistry and electrochemistry. He has also been legally blind since birth and serves as a member of the national ACS Committee on Chemists with Disabilities. I am excited for Prof. Kilyanek to share his experiences with the Section as a legally blind synthetic chemist.

A reminder that the Awards for Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and Undergraduate Teaching are due to the Section this month – February 15th. Please consider nominating an outstanding full-time educator in our Section! Winners will be honored at our April Section meeting.

As always, please reach out with any suggestions, ideas for programming, or questions about getting involved in our work. Thanks, and looking forward to seeing you at our events!

January 2023 Issue

Greetings and Happy 2023 to you and your family! I am ecstatic to be the Section’s Chair this year.

Before I go any further, I need to thank the Board of Directors and Officers for their guidance (and patience!) as I take over for the Immediate Past Chair, Ivona Sasimovich. Ivona expertly navigated the Section’s activities through 2022 and I am very grateful for her continued help, particularly in arranging the Section’s Strategic Planning Retreat in February 2023. Prior chairs Christie McInnis and Joe Martino have also been invaluable resources and influences, and I thank them for their tireless service to the Section.

Like my predecessors, programming in 2023 will likely fit into the “new normal” brought by COVID, where virtual, hybrid, and in-person events all play a part. The last three years have shown us that online programming can be effective and, in some ways, superior to in-person activities.

The year’s programming will start this month with a virtual event: a panel discussion for growing Project SEED in and around Philadelphia. One of my main goals in 2023 is to bolster our Section’s participation in programs like SEED, which connects high school students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to research experiences with mentors in academic, industrial, or government laboratories. The panelists are Brandon Presley, who completed research with SEED before becoming a PhD chemist at Janssen; Sharon Haynie, a long-time project SEED mentor while employed at DuPont Central Research; and Jeremy Heyman, a coordinator for SEED since 2010, now Associate Director of STEM Pathways at Philadelphia Heights. I am excited to hear their experiences and ideas.

Future events include a February virtual seminar by Stefan Kilyanek, an organometallic electro-chemist who will share his experience as a legally blind synthetic chemist and a member of the national ACS Committee on Chemists with Disabilities; a Spring banquet to celebrate our Scholastic Achievement Awards; the Edgar Fahs Smith Lecture; the presentation of our Section Award; and the Ullyot Lecture, which will be given this year by 2022 Nobel Laureate Carolyn Bertozzi.

Please reach out with any suggestions, ideas for events, or questions about getting involved in our work. I am very much looking forward to meeting with you and seeing you at our events.