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ACS News

ACS honors its 2021 Outreach Volunteers of the Year

Grad student Christine Skaggs of the Indiana Local Section is named the national winner

by Linda Wang
February 28, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 7


Photo of Christine Skaggs.
Credit: Courtesy of Christine Skaggs
Global winner Christine Skaggs volunteers at Celebrate Science Indiana in October 2019.

Thirty-six local section and international chapter volunteers are being honored with the American Chemical Society’s 2021 Outreach Volunteers of the Year awards. The program, established by the Committee on Community Activities, recognizes extraordinary outreach volunteers within local sections.

Christine Skaggs of the Indiana Local Section is the global winner. She is being honored for her work as secretary of the ACS Indiana Local Section and for chairing the COVID-19 Chemistry Kits for Kids event, which distributed resource kits including masks, hand sanitizers, and winter accessories to more than 200 students from underserved areas around Indianapolis.

“We want to be able to provide resources to those who need it, and it’s very rewarding to be able to give back, even if it’s in a small way,” says Skaggs, a chemistry graduate student at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. “ACS allows me to bridge my two passions, which are chemistry and outreach.”

Skaggs also founded the local section’s Senior Chemists Mentorship Program, which connects senior chemists with younger scientists, and she has been actively involved in the annual Celebrate Science Indiana festival.

This year’s local section and international chapter Outreach Volunteers of the Year winners are Barbara Ameer of the Princeton Section, Barbara Belmont of the Southern California Section, Gary Bonomo of the Central New York Local Section, Daniel Cain of the South Carolina Section, Mita Chaki of the North Jersey Section, Robert S. Cohen of the Orange County Local Section, Krista L. Cunningham of the Northeastern Ohio Local Section, Greglynn Gibbs of the Lehigh Valley Section, Angela M. González-Mederos of the Puerto Rico Section, Sharon K. Hamilton of the Central Arkansas Local Section, Michel Johnson of the Orlando Local Section, Clarice Kelleher of the Binghamton Local Section, Hooi-Ling Lee of the Malaysia International Chemical Sciences Chapter, James K. Murray of the Philadelphia Section, John Patrick O’Brien of the Brazosport Local Section, Carlos J. Olivo of the Colorado Local Section, Katelynn Perrault of the Hawaii Local Section, LaKesha Perry of the Chemical Society of Washington, Eryn Pondo of the Joliet Section, Gerald J. Putterman of the New Haven Local Section, Sarah Elizabeth Reagen of the Red River Valley Local Section, Sherri Conn Rukes of the Chicago Section, Stacey Sank of the Virginia Section, Joseph Serafin of the New York Local Section, Kevin M. Simpson of the San Gorgonio Section, Laura Smith Callahan of the Greater Houston Section, Denis Svechkarev of the Omaha Section, Atefeh Taheri of the California Section, James Takacs of the Nebraska Local Section, Hamna Tarar of the Pakistan International Chemical Sciences Chapter, Shannon Timmons of the Detroit Section, Jeffrey Trent of the Columbus Section, Lori Valentín of the Eastern New York Section, Tad Whiteside of the Savannah River Local Section, and Hong Zhang of the Cincinnati Section.

Photo of LaKesha Perry.
Credit: Courtesy of LaKesha Perry
LaKesha Perry volunteers at a “pump-chem patch” festival for kids at Georgetown University in November 2019.
Photo of Michel Johnson next to his laptop planning outreach events virtually.
Credit: Courtesy of Michel Johnson
Retired chemist Michel Johnson helps organize outreach events virtually during the pandemic.
Photo of Gary Bonomo doing an outreach activity.
Credit: Courtesy of Gary Bonomo
Gary Bonomo of Syracuse University prepares to make slime during the New York State Fair in August 2018.
Photo of Barbara Belmont with a group of students.
Credit: Courtesy of Barbara Belmont
Barbara Belmont (in pink) with officers of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in September 2019
Photo of Angela M. González-Mederos speaking with a group of students in a classroom.
Credit: Gabriel Martínez-Bracero
Angela M. González-Mederos of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico–San Germán Campus talks to students during a science fair at Julio Victor Guzmán School in March 2019.
Photo of Hamna Tarar with faculty at the University of Karachi.
Credit: Muhammad bin Omer Tarar
Hamna Tarar (second from left) and other officers of the Pakistan International Chemical Sciences Chapter—Rehana Saeed (from far left), Uzma Ashiq, and Rifat Ara Jamal—host a webinar at the University of Karachi for Mole Day on Oct. 23, 2020.

To read about the winners, visit



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