Comments From the Chair

April 2020 Issue

There is no question that all of us are justly concerned about the novel Covid-19 virus, and the reports that we have been seeing in the nightly news have been most disconcerting. No doubt this new scourge on humanity is having a swift and adverse effect on what we do. Even the American Chemical Society and this Local Section have been affected, with the cancellation of last month’s ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia as well as last month’s Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecture, which the Section co-hosts with the Chemistry Department of the University of Pennsylvania. Certainly, we are justly disappointed in these cancellations and have a deep concern for the safety and well-being of all.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Sharon Haynie and her staff of volunteers who have put forth a great effort to coordinate our Local Section efforts for the ACS National Meeting. These volunteers worked very hard toward this National Meeting and did so in a very upbeat and positive way. They deserve our heartfelt thanks and sincere gratitude and have captured the spirit of what the ACS Philadelphia Section is all about. I would also like to thank Dr. Lee Hoffman, the Chair of the Communications Committee, Ms. Robin Davis, the Editor-In-Chief of the Catalyst, and all of the volunteers of the Communications Committee who have put together the Special Edition of the Catalyst for the National Meeting. Even though the National Meeting was cancelled, I still invite you to look through this Special Edition of the Catalyst on our Section’s website (see:, as it very useful even outside of chemistry and the National Meeting. It contains a wealth of information about the Philadelphia area that you can use for your own leisure time with family and friends.

In that Special Edition of the Catalyst, I mentioned in my column that Philadelphians are people who have determination and grit. As the Chair of this Local Section, I want to let you know that our Board of Directors – together with you, our members – have the determination and grit to get past this sad and unprecedented moment in the history of our Local Section and of the ACS itself and move the ACS Philadelphia Section forward to brighter and better days.

As I write this, I have called the Executive Committee of the ACS Philadelphia Section to order to discuss a Local Section strategy with regards to how the ACS Philadelphia Section operates with respect to addressing the coronavirus. This strategy will be thoroughly reviewed by our Board of Directors and shared with you. Please watch our website – – and our monthly email blast for the latest updates. If you haven’t joined our LinkedIn group, please go to our website and click on the LinkedIn button and you’ll be directed right to our LinkedIn group. This group contains rapid updates of what our Section does.

As chemists, we are trained that safety must take precedence above all else that we do in the laboratory. Even though our Local Section events may not be held in a laboratory, safety must always remain priority number one. Please know that the Board of Directors of the ACS Philadelphia Section holds your safety and well-being paramount and that we hold this responsibility as a sacred trust.

Also, stay tuned . . . we are planning to re-schedule the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecture for the Fall. The tradition will continue!

March 2020 Issue

Adams. Urey. Marvel. Pauling. Debye. Seaborg. Brown. Corey. Stork. Danishefsky. Bergman. Karplus. Grubbs. Sharpless. Nicolaou. Breslow. Bertozzi. Hartwig. Roszensweig.

These names are all well-known in the chemical profession. All of them are great chemists. And all of them delivered the annual Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecture that we celebrate this month.

There are many more great chemists who, throughout the years, have presented this prestigious talk, too. In the space I’m allotted for my monthly column, my hope is that this incomplete list above gives you an idea of the great chemists who have delivered this outstanding series of talks over the years.

Since 1929, the Chemistry Department of the University of Pennsylvania and the ACS Philadelphia Section has co-sponsored the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecture. This lecture, named after the late Professor of Chemistry and Provost of the University of Pennsylvania as well as a three-time ACS Past President, is the oldest lecture in the United States that is co-sponsored by a university and an ACS Local Section. On behalf of the ACS Philadelphia Section Board of Directors, we are proud to continue this almost-100-year-old joint effort with the University of Pennsylvania and are pleased to bring this to you.

This year’s Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecturer is Professor Barbara Imperiali of MIT. On March 12th, Professor Imperiali will be presenting a talk about her current research involving N-linked protein glycosylation pathways. You will find the abstract of her lecture in this edition of the Catalyst. As always, the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Lecture is preceded by a reception in honor of our speaker and followed by a dinner to be held immediately after the talk. More information on the schedule for this year’s lecture can also be found here in this edition of the Catalyst.

Next month, the ACS Philadelphia Section hosts our combined Student Scholastic Achievement Awards, the Excellence in Pre-College Teaching and the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Chemical Sciences Awards Ceremony on the campus of Rutgers-Camden. During our April event, Rutgers-Camden Associate Professor Jinglin Fu will present a talk about his research. In May, our Career Services Committee will be hosting a presentation about the use of LinkedIn. In June, we honor the anniversaries of our 50-, 60- and 70-year members. And the year isn’t over yet!

As I mentioned in my column in January, our Section Expo and YCC Poster Session – which was very successful – served as a forum to network with our leadership to find out what you – our membership – want the ACS Philadelphia Section to be. In the upcoming months, you will be receiving a survey which will assess the needs of our membership so that the Board of Directors can make the Section as relevant for our members as possible. When you receive this survey, please take the time to complete it and let us know what is important to you! We can only know best how to serve you if we hear your ideas and your opinions.

As always, you are more than welcome to come to one of our meetings, stop by and say hello! Know that you are welcome and always at home in the ACS Philadelphia Section. If you should ever have a question or concern, please reach out to me at Also, for the most up-to-the minute Section news, check out the ACS Philadelphia Section LinkedIn Group.Here you can find postings about our events, news in the Section and can interact with your fellow ACS members, too. The ACS Philadelphia Section has something for everyone!

Let’s talk next month, and let’s enjoy springtime, which is right around the corner!