The American Chemical Society recognized volunteer efforts in 2015 by the society’s 185 local sections, 32 divisions, 10 regional meetings, and 16 international chemical science chapters at the 18th annual ChemLuminary Awards during the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia this past August.
These awards “recognize, celebrate, and honor the contributions of our dedicated ACS volunteers,” said ACS President Donna Nelson in her opening remarks. “I am continually astounded by the energy, enthusiasm, and dedication of ACS members. It is because of you that this year’s ChemLuminary theme is ‘For the Love of Chemistry.’ ”
H.N. Cheng, recipient of the 2016 Award for Volunteer Service to the American Chemical Society, gave the keynote lecture, titled, “For the Love of Chemistry.” Cheng was recognized for his exemplary efforts and leadership in ACS Governance and numerous contributions to the American Chemical Society. During his talk, Cheng spoke about his love for volunteerism and how he has benefited from his participation in ACS.
The following awards were presented in Philadelphia:
Committee on Public Relations & Communications
The 2015 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach was presented to Howard and Sally Peters. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in public outreach by an ACS member. The Peters are best known for their activities in teaching about chocolate—in presentations about its history, preparation, and health effects. They also have volunteered many hours with science fairs and student activities.
The Outstanding Continuing Public Relations Program of a Local Section Award went to the Northeastern Local Section for organizing the K-12 event, “STEM Journey II: Ocean Discovery.” More than 1,100 people attended the event, which featured hands-on exhibits and keynote talks on sharks and the discovery of the Titanic.
The Award for the Best New Public Relations Program of a Local Section went to the Lehigh Valley Local Section for hosting Lehigh Valley’s Summer Science Spectacular, which brought together ACS members, colleagues, and science friends to provide a fun-filled day of outreach for families at a Reading Fighting Phils baseball game.
Women Chemists Committee
The Best Overall WCC Local Section Award went to the Chicago Local Section for hosting numerous activities, including a nontraditional career forum, an American Association of University Women $tart $mart Workshop about negotiating salaries, a mentoring event, and a Mix & Mingle held with Iota Sigma Pi featuring a chemistry-based, Jeopardy-style game.
Committee on Economic & Professional Affairs
The Outstanding Technical Division Career Program Award went to the Division of Inorganic Chemistry for its DIC Travel Award Program, which supports student travel to the ACS national meeting. This is the 15-year anniversary of the program, which has supported roughly 750 students to present their work at the national meeting.
The Outstanding Local Section Career Program went to the Detroit Local Section for hosting events that provided career and skill support for the currently employed, unemployed, students, and prospective students.
Younger Chemists Committee
The Outstanding Local Section Younger Chemists Committee Award went to the Northeastern Local Section, whose Younger Chemists Committee participated in 22 career development, networking, and community outreach events. Each program had an average of 30 participants, and a reception at the national meeting drew more than 250 people.
The Outstanding New Local Section Younger Chemists Committee Award went to the Nashville Local Section, which hosted a social at the joint regional meeting between the Southeast and Southwest regions.
The Outstanding or Creative Local Section Younger Chemists Committee Event Award went to the San Diego Local Section, which held a lecture series, “Academics 2 Industry: UCLA,” that provided chemistry students with insights on transitioning to research as a medicinal chemist.
Committee on Divisional Activities
The Award for Recognition of Innovation and Outstanding Service to Members of a Division went to the Division of Cellulose & Renewable Materials, which continued an overhaul of their division awards and recognition program to address a gap in the recognition of emerging scientists. In addition, the division initiated the new “KINGFA Young Investigator Award” and expanded two existing awards.
The Award for Most Unique Project as Funded by a Division Innovative Project Grant went to the Division of Inorganic Chemistry for its recruitment activities at ACS national meetings in 2015 that included activity tables, on-the-spot QR code registration, and custom-made t-shirts for staff and participants. The efforts resulted in a 31% increase in new memberships in 2015 compared with 2014, including a nearly three-fold increase in undergraduate memberships, and a 20% increase in student memberships overall.
Society Committee on Education
The Award for Fostering Interactions Between Local Sections & Student Chapters went to the Kentucky Lake Local Section. The section received an ACS Innovative Project Grant to host children science centers at monthly meetings in conjunction with three ACS student chapters.
The Outstanding U. S. National Chemistry Olympiad Award went to the Orange County Local Section. The section arranged awards programs to honor the top students and teachers. Winners received medallions, gift cards, and their names engraved on a plaque.
The Outstanding High School Student Program Award went to the Puerto Rico Local Section, which worked with high school chemistry clubs to foster interaction with student chapters’ members during the section’s NCW celebration.
The Outstanding Kids & Chemistry Award went to the Midland Local Section. The section’s Kids & Chemistry events inspired and astonished with the power and relevance of chemistry in a variety of venues and formats.
Committee on Project SEED
The Outstanding Project SEED Program Award went to the California Local Section. The section supported 49 SEED students and successfully raised funds to support the program. Three students won ACS scholarships.
Committee on Chemistry & Public Affairs
The ACS President’s Award for Local Section Government Affairs went to the Chicago Local Section, which worked with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to ensure support for science education in the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Committee on Environmental Improvement
There was a tie for the Award for Outstanding Sustainability Activities. The Dallas-Fort Worth Local Section was recognized for organizing a workshop with a keynote speech by the Texas State Climatologist, Texas A&M University’s professor John Nielsen-Gammon. The Midland Local Section used a sustainability grant to start two community garden plots and then built a greenhouse of recycled bottles on the property over three days during the summer. The produce was given to local food pantries.
Leadership Advisory Board
The Outstanding Leadership Development Program Award went to the Midland Local Section. As a result of its ACS Leadership Development System Strategic Planning Retreat, section leaders developed three actionable goals to support their newly crafted mission and vision statements.
The Award for Outstanding Local Section Industry Event went to the Northeastern Local Section, which organized a symposium that brought chemists from industry and academia to Vertex Pharmaceuticals in order to learn about and discuss innovations in process chemistry.
Committee on Technician Affairs
The Award for Best Event or Activity Organized by, or Benefiting, the Applied Chemical Technology Professional Community went to the Midland Local Section. The section’s Mid-Michigan Technicians Group offers professional development-focused Lunch & Learn workshops to chemical technicians. In 2015, a program on emotional intelligence helped attendees find ways to boost personal and social competencies.
Committee on Minority Affairs
The Award for Best Overall Local Section Minority Affairs Committee went to the Richland Local Section, which held an outreach event for Native American elementary and middle school children.
Committee on International Activities
The Global Engagement Award for a Division went to the Division of Small Chemical Businesses, which organized three symposia at PacifiChem 2015 that served as a model for international collaboration. These symposia featured speakers from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Chemical Society of Japan, and the Canadian Society for Chemistry.
The Global Engagement Award for an International Chemical Sciences Chapter went to the Nigeria International Chemical Sciences Chapter. The chapter held the Abuja Festival of Chemistry with help from the Chemical Society of Nigeria. Over 300 school students attended to perform experiments managed by over 30 volunteers.
Senior Chemists Committee
The Award for Best Ongoing Senior Activity in a Local Section that Benefits the Community, Local Schools, or Legislative Government went to the Colorado Local Section. The section has hosted the Summer Senior Lunch Program for the past 10 years. During the event, 50- to 60-year members are given certificates, and senior members have a chance to meet and socialize with section members.
The Award for Most Innovative Activity in a Local Section for Senior Chemists went to the Detroit Local Section, which held a senior chemists meeting at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Attendance was filled to capacity and included a tour of the Conservation Labs, networking, and future planning for senior chemists.
Committee on Meetings & Expositions
The Award for Outstanding Regional Meeting went to the 2014 Central Regional Meeting. More than 800 attendees participated in CERM 2014, which featured three plenary lectures, 247 oral presentations, 259 poster presentations, four workshops, and five vendor seminars.
Committee on Community Activities
The Award for Best NCW Event Organized by a Student Group went to the Western Carolinas Local Section, which hosted an NCW event at the Spartanburg Science Center for 150 community members. Copies of Celebrating Chemistry, pencils, and other giveaways were presented to all attendees.
The Award for Most Creative NCW Celebration Using the Yearly Theme went to the California Local Section for organizing “Family Science Night.” Volunteers and students from UC Berkeley, California State University, East Bay; and Las Positas College entertained hundreds of students and their families at Bancroft Middle School in San Leandro, filling classrooms with numerous NCW themed activities.
The Award for Outstanding Community Involvement in CCED went to the Midland Local Section. The section organized Earth Day Passport Programs, including one event with Michigan State University professor Rick Foster, who discussed the urgency of finding food globally, and explained a variety of new programs in Detroit to establish urban farms and reclaim some of the abandoned cityscape for food production.
The Award for Outstanding Community Involvement in NCW went to the Cincinnati Local Section, which coordinated events for NCW for an estimated 8,530 attendees. It partnered with community organizations, such as the Cincinnati Museum Center, local libraries, and ACS student affiliate groups.
The Award for Outstanding NCW Event for a Specific Audience went to the Pittsburgh Local Section. The section’s Women Chemists Committee led an event for NCW at the Ronald McDonald House for the dozen families who were staying at the facility.
The Award for Outstanding On-going CCED Event went to the Virginia Local Section for hosing a Climate Science Event at John Tyler Community College, which attracted approximately 2,530 attendees.
The Award for Outstanding Ongoing NCW Event went to the Northeast Tennessee Local Section, which organized their 28th Annual Celebration of NCW and 25th Annual Celebration of Chemistry for 4th Graders. To date, the section has had over 33,000 students attend their on-going NCW event.
Committee on Local Section Activities
The Award for Best Activity or Program in a Local Section Stimulating Membership Involvement went to the Midland Local Section. In celebration of Pi day and Einstein’s birthday, the section held a math and science workshop with the assistance of Saginaw Valley State University Chem Club students.
The Local Section Partnership Award went to the Tampa Bay Local Section. The section used an Innovative Project Grant and a Bridging-the-Gap Nano-Grant to help chemistry undergrads from the University of Puerto Rico and the International University of Puerto Rico present at the Raymond N. Castle Student Research Conference.
The Award for Most Innovative New Activity or Program went to the Kentucky Lake Local Section, which hosted children science centers at their monthly meetings. These activities culminated with an evening at the ballpark and a day at Discovery Park.
The Outstanding Performance Awards recognize local sections that have demonstrated excellent overall achievement by offering multiple programs for members and reaching out to their communities. Local section size categories are determined by the number of members: small, 50–199; medium-small, 200–399; medium, 400–799; medium-large, 800–1,599; large, 1,600–3,199; and very large, 3,200 and above.
In the small category, the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Local Section went to the Erie Local Section. The section addressed problems of low attendance at meetings, encouraged participation of industrial chemists, and enticed young faculty to participate in ACS.
In the medium-small category, the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Local Section went to the Brazosport Local Section for hosting outreach events involving the Lil’ Champs Quality Learning Childcare Center, Festival of Lights, a local library, and a museum, engaging more than 1,000 children from pre-K to high school.
In the medium category, the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Local Section went to the Midland Local Section, which sponsored a sustainability project with a garden/greenhouse activity, generating significant food donations to a local school and a food pantry.
In the medium-large category, the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Local Section went to the Dallas-Fort Worth Local Section. The section held an awards banquet to honor 50- and 60-year members and award undergraduate students. It also held its 5th annual NCW celebration, which reached more than 3,000 people.
In the large category, the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Local Section went to the North Carolina Local Section. The section’s Senior Chemists Committee held visits to Nomacorc, Metabolon, and the North Carolina Natural History Museum, and its Women Chemists Committee held a networking brunch and breakfast.
In the very large category, the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Local Section went to the New York Local Section, which hosted events such as a home scientist workshop for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts, a chemistry olympiad, and a Teen STEM Night.
For more information about the ChemLuminary Awards and to see more photos from this year’s celebration, visit www.acs.org/chemluminary.