Comments From the Chair

February 2021 Issue

For the remainder of the year, I intend to profile one of our amazing committees in order to bring visibility to the work that they are doing and allow for interested volunteers to make connections with existing committee members. For the month of February, I am going to be profiling our Program Planning Committee.

The Program Planning Committee develops, organizes, and hosts our monthly Section meetings. This process starts well in advance of the event so that an appropriate budget can be drafted and submitted in the fall of the year before the event. The Program Planning Committee is newly revived and will be chaired by me this year. Please reach out if you are interested in joining us ( I hope that you will join us for at least some of the events we have planned for you this year.

Our January event included the opportunity to meet members of Local Section leadership including members of the Board of Directors and Councilors. Following the opportunity to learn more about our leadership, Sharon Haynie led us in a game of Jeopardy! based on Philadelphia and Local Section trivia. Anne Demasi helped to determine who had the fastest “hand raising” skills. We were excited to enjoy the game together.

For later this month, Randara Pulukkody has coordinated a team including Dan Domin, Steven LaMonaca, Andreea Argintaru, and AIChE partner David Hagan to bring us a program looking at outreach programs developed by companies in our Section and their impact on teachers and the schools. Please register to join us on February 18, 2021 from 5-6 PM for this event.

The Edgar Fahs Smith Lecture is typically presented in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania in March of each year. The Edgar Fahs Smith Lecture was established in 1929 to honor the first modern chemist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was a former Provost of the University and President of the American Chemical Society. This lectureship is the oldest lectureship in the country under the joint sponsorship of a university and a section of the ACS. Due to the significance of this event for our Section, it was decided to wait until November to hold this lecture. The organizing committee hopes that we can have an in-person event at that time. Matt Irwin of Axalta and Ziang Li of DuPont are coordinating with University of Pennsylvania’s Chris Jeffrey to bring us this event. Dr. Matthew Irwin is a Team Manager within the Axalta Research and Development group, located at the Global Innovation Center in Philadelphia, PA. He joined Axalta in August 2016 as a waterborne colorcoat formulator, and his work has focused on designing and characterizing high-performance coatings for automotive and industrial applications. Ziang Li currently works as a Research and Development scientist at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences. He trained as a chemical engineer with a research background in polymeric/colloidal systems for applications in drug delivery and microbial control.

Isabella Goodenough and Taylor Keller, graduate students at Temple University, and the Philadelphia Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) will be collaborating with the Eastern US YCC Partnership to host a virtual symposium and chemistry career fair to provide young chemists an opportunity to showcase their scientific advancements and to engage directly with local employers. The symposium component will include oral and poster presentations where students and young professionals can network with likeminded scientists. All presentations will be judged by a series of qualified volunteers with time allotted for a brief Q&A session. We will invite employers within the geographical regions of the local sections to engage directly with presenters. A separate component will include a virtual career fair and networking sessions, organized at the local section level to open and encourage meaningful dialogue.

On May 4, 2021, join us to celebrate our Excellence in Pre-College and Undergraduate Teaching Award Winners as well as our Student Scholastic Achievement Awardees. This will be a virtual meeting; register here. Special thanks to our Chair-Elect and Chair of the Awards Committee, Ivona Sasimovich of IFF, for organizing this event.

In May 2021, ACS Philadelphia will host a FREE virtual multi-section networking happy hour between our chapter and local professional science and engineering society chapters including STLE, ASME, AIChE and more. We will have some fun icebreakers and discussion topics to get conversation flowing, and raffle prizes for participants! It is sure to be a fun evening of meeting new professional colleagues and reconnecting with old friends. This event is organized by Candice Pelligra and Gangotri Dey. Candice (PhD Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Yale University) is a formulation scientist at Axalta Coatings Systems in Philadelphia, PA. Dey (PhD, Tyndall National Institute, Ireland) is an adjunct faculty member at NJIT and Rutgers University. We look forward to meeting you!

Our annual luncheon to honor our 50-, 60-, and 70-year members traditionally held in June will look a little different this year. We are planning to hold a virtual event with a special twist. We are hoping to arrange for food delivery or a special gift for our long-term members so that we can celebrate together while remaining socially distanced. Andreea Argintaru of Axalta and our Section’s administrative assistant, Anna Boffice, are coordinating this event.

In July, we will hold our first Industrial Relations Committee luncheon focusing on providing recognition and networking opportunities for our industrial members. While focused on industrial members, all are welcome including members of academia and students interested in join-ing industry. The Dow Chemical Company has kindly offered to host us for this event, organized by Sarah Reisert, Ro Washington and Moutushi Dey.

In August, Isabella Goodenough and Taylor Keller will host a unique summertime event where we will network with our fellow members (and perhaps some new ones) and, at your option, a tour of a local vineyard and a guided tasting. Also at this event, Ivona Sasimovich, Chair-Elect, and I will be on-hand to hold a Q&A forum.

September will be our Section’s first mini-Leadership Development Institute mimicked after the Leadership Development Institute offered to Chair-Elects of local sections. This event is in partnership with neighboring local sections and will bring several facilitators of ACS National’s Leadership Development Courses to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Participants will have the opportunity to take two leadership courses, one in the morning and one in the after-noon, as well as participate in a networking lunch. Options are also available to take only a morning or an afternoon course. This event is being organized by Candice Pelligra and Matt Ir-win of Axalta and Mark Reynolds of St Joseph’s University.

In October, we will honor our Section Award Winner with an event organized by Ziang Li. The Section Award recognizes scientific achievement and contributions in an area of chemistry or chemical engineering by a member of the Philadelphia Section every year. The recipient will be given the opportunity to present the exciting scientific work before the Section Award dinner.

The Section will hold its annual Holiday Party banquet in December 2021. This year, invitations will be extended to the general section to thank members for their participation and sup-port in our local chapter. Please join us in revisiting our 2021 accomplishments and recognizing the efforts of our Section leadership and committee volunteers. Expect a delicious menu in a festive atmosphere with multiple options for those with dietary restrictions. Local guidelines regarding event sizes and coronavirus risk management procedures will be carefully monitored, with event details updated as the situation in the coming year unfolds. This event is organized by Candice Pelligra, a formulation scientist at Axalta Coatings Systems in Philadelphia, PA.

January 2021 Issue

Happy New Year! I hope that it is a happy, healthy, and peaceful year for you.
Obviously, 2020 was not the year anyone expected. However, this has given us a wonderful opportunity to think about the things that are important to us and to evaluate if we are on the track that we hope to be. I would like to share my vision for the Section in 2021 and invite your feedback.

My first goal is to make the ACS Philadelphia Local Section the place to learn about resources for all things chemistry-related in the greater Philadelphia Area. We will be maintaining a calendar of all events in the greater Philadelphia Area on our website:
( Please check there often for interesting events within our Section and partners. If you have an event that you would like posted on the calendar, please email with the relevant information including date, time and registration information. I recommend offering a registration option for all virtual events to prevent “zoom bombers” or participants interested in disrupting the event rather than attending. I encourage all local colleges and universities to post any seminars that are open to the public on our calendar.

My second goal is to create a sense of belonging, empowerment, and ownership in our member-ship. As many have said before me, this Section is your Section. While we have many amazing volunteers currently, it may not always be clear how to volunteer with the Section or what volunteer positions are vacant. To make the volunteer process more transparent, I am going to be using my Chair’s Column to highlight current committees. It will focus on the mission of the committee, current volunteers, and opportunities to get involved. I am a fan of the philosophy that if you can envision it, you can create it; I promise to work with you to bring new programming and events to the Section as you have a passion for them. I hope that if you are not already a volunteer, you will find some way that excites you to get involved. Please always feel free to email with an interest to get involved. We will be posting our committee meetings on the Section’s calendar on our website. Please feel free to take a look and join any of the meetings that look interesting to you. Note that registration may be required.

I invite you to attend our monthly Section meetings, including the January meeting where you will have an opportunity to meet members of the Section’s leadership and play a game of Jeopardy focusing on trivia from our Philadelphia Local Section.

The Section has done a terrific job of pivoting in the face of the pandemic in 2020, including moving to virtual meetings. While there is hope that we can move back to in person meetings in the foreseeable future, we intend to hold all our meetings virtually until May. In May we are hoping to have an outdoor networking event at a winery.

I would like to end by thanking all of the many existing volunteers for our Section. There are so many things that you do to make our Section a place to learn and grow while making friends and giving back. Thank you!