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Industry Voices

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NoceInvo.jpgTony Noce is constantly on the go. A seasoned engineering consultant with more than 27 years of experience, Noce loves traveling from place to place to work on different problems.


Looking back at his career path, however, Noce says that he “did everything the wrong way.”


Noce didn’t figure out his dream career path right away. But his openness to new opportunities has led him to a field that he is passionate about, and his love for solving varied problems is helping him thrive in the highly competitive consulting engineering business.


Reflecting upon the outcomes of the choices he has made throughout his career, Noce, a newly minted ACS Fellow, admits, “I am amazed by it on a regular basis…”


The wandering years

Noce excelled at science and math in high school. Encouraged by teachers and family members to go into engineering, he planned to become a chemical engineer. However, after a year at Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University), an engineering school near the U.S. and Canada border in Potsdam, New York, he decided that engineering was not for him.


“I hated it,” he confesses.


He transferred to the State University of New York at Potsdam, changed his major, and graduated with dual degrees in biology and secondary education with a concentration in chemistry. Both of his parents were school teachers, he respected their work, and he thought he’d like to become a teacher as well.


But the universe had a different plan for Noce. After graduating from college in 1988, he was hired by YWC Laboratories in Connecticut, an environmental lab, and became an analytical chemist rather than a teacher.


“Yeah, I don’t really understand how it happened either,” Noce jokes.


Embracing serendipity

Much to Noce’s surprise, he found out that he liked the rapidly growing field of environmental chemistry.


“It really felt like I was helping to make a difference,” Noce recalls. “From cleaning up the sins of the past to preventing such issues from occurring in the future by finding a better way to do things, the job is both challenging and exciting.”


More than 27 years later, today Noce still feels the same way about the field that he accidentally fell in love with.


“In many ways I like it even more today because I get to see the bigger picture now,” says Noce.


Drawn to the consulting business

YWC Laboratories was owned by an environmental engineering firm. It didn’t take long for Noce to fall in love with the consulting business. Traveling from place to place, working with people from different backgrounds, and helping companies and organizations to solve a variety of problems, the consulting business appeared to suit his peripatetic nature. Noce decided to enter into the consulting engineering business.


However, it wasn’t as easy for Noce to enter into the field at this time. He was repeatedly told that he lacked the needed experience to be a consultant. 


A well-thought-out plan

To get his foot in the door, Noce’s plan was to join an established engineering firm as a mid-level consultant. The springboard was Ward Scientific, Ltd., a company that developed software to help environmental labs and consulting engineering firms generate EPA compliant reports. While at ENSECO’s ERCO Laboratory (Noce’s second job after graduating from college), Noce tested software for Ward Scientific. In 1991, Noce successfully convinced the software company to create a software engineer position for him.


How did he do it?


“I explained that they needed a chemist who could, on the one hand, understand the EPA requirements and sketch out the logic for a programmer, while on the other hand could relate to the end users and provide training and sales support. And they asked if I happened to know someone who might fit the bill,” Noce recalls.


Within days, the software company offered Noce a job, and he accepted. After working at Ward Scientific for about a year and a half, Noce landed his first consulting position in 1993. That’s a short 5 years after graduating from college, 9 years after walking away from a chemical engineering school.


The key to his success of getting into the consulting business?


“Perseverance, confidence, and a dash of audacity,” Noce reveals. 


For the love of variety

In the following 2 decades, Noce worked on hundreds of environment health and safety-related projects for dozens of industrial clients of various sizes. As his experience increased, so did his responsibility.


After working for several consulting firms, Noce joined Haley & Aldrich in 2015 to help the firm build its Operations Risk & Compliance Practice. As a principal consultant and senior client leader, he leads a team of scientists and engineers to provide global EHS compliance, due diligence, product stewardship, as well as sustainability management services to a variety of clients.


In Noce’s world, there is no such thing as a typical workday as each client has different needs, and the only consistent part is perhaps traveling from place to place.


“I spend a lot time traveling to various client locations,” says Noce. So far this year, he spent only 20 days of the first 4 months at home. The rest of the days? Traveling around the country to help his clients reduce operational costs, maintain business continuity, and protect their brand name. 


Some people might get tired of this type of work, traveling and being away from home much, but Noce loves it.


When asked what he likes the most about his job and why, Noce’s answers are simple: “the variety” and “solving problems.”


Insights and advice

Reflecting upon his experience with the consulting business, Noce says, “its not for everyone, but if its for you, its a fantastic career.” And he “simply cant imagine going to the same office (or lab or plant or whatever) every day and wrestling with the same problems.”


For those who have trouble deciding what they want to do with their career or degree, Noce offers the following.


  • Try as many different things as you can. Volunteer. Get co-ops. One of the best ways to learn is by actually doing. Even mistakes can be a wonderful teacher if you understand what happened and do not repeat the same mistakes.


  • Network. Talk to as many different people as you can. Find out what they do. What do they like about their job? What do they hate about it? Stay in touch with people, particularly people you hit it off with. Relationships are key no matter what direction you choose to go.


  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that any decision you make now is final. You can always get off of this path and onto another – or even blaze your own trail.




Yanni Wang is a principal scientific writer and the owner of International Biomedical Communications, a company dedicated to translating research data into clear messages. Yanni has a PhD in chemistry and writes about biomedical research-related topics for professional audiences and the general public.




The world is changing, with positive views of chemistry and science appearing far more commonly on TV these days.  That is a great thing, though probably inadequate to swing public opinion pro-chemistry.  I have an eye for chemistry, as some of the stories I will relay prove.  A few weeks ago, I noticed chemistry where I wasn't expecting it: Saturday Night Live.  No chemistry was in the program, but at the commercial breaks, there were depictions of chemical models and mention of chemical terms in one of the ads.


Caring about accurate depictions of chemistry, as I do, is not always a good thing.  I get worked up when I see chemistry abused in the media. I hate it when “chemical” is used as a derogatory term and even more when throwaway adjectives like “toxic” are used in front of “chemical.”


I routinely cry foul when my employer’s depictions of chemistry stray too far from what is technically accurate as part of an attempt to make the chemistry accessible to non-chemists or the general public. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say, and I have been asked multiple times to fact-check visuals prior to their use in company advertising. These demands reached a bit of a summit when I was asked to help plan the video advertisements that ultimately ran in 2014.



I worked with the design team as the scientific advisor.  The director wanted chemistry in the videos.  Real researchers were brought in and I helped direct them to do “chemistry” things.  It became pretty clear that people in white coats look like medical doctors to most viewers so we made molecular models – accurate ones that depicted chemically important molecules the company sells – for our lab coat wearing scientists to hold.  It worked, making them look less like medical doctors and more like chemists.  We had chemists drawing chemical reactions, engineers solving kinetic expressions, things that were actually relevant to the day-to-day lives of real industrial researchers.



There was a print ad pulled from some of the video shot at the time with a guy in a red baseball hat writing on a chalkboard.  The chemical equations he was writing were actually industrially relevant.  I wrote out the mechanism for long-chain branching in the production of linear low-density polyethylene.  The actor dutifully rendered it on the blackboard. I argued that I couldn’t recall seeing a working chemist in a baseball cap.  It was an argument I didn’t win.


Several months ago, I was consulted, not about advertising, but about decoration for the walls of a new building.  I was shown artists' renderings of chemistry that didn't look like chemistry to me.  There were balls and there were sticks (really more so wires) connecting them. They were connected to form rings and cages of varying sizes.  Some of the wires were long, some short.  I must have wrinkled my face pretty severely as I was immediately asked, “What’s wrong?” I tried to explain how, while the shapes were appealing, they didn't really look like molecules.  I left the meeting promising to pull together some pictures of real molecules, ones with significance to the company.


I borrowed some 3D images from others and drew some myself. It had been stressed that the images would be repeated across an expanse.  I played with images of polyethylene, some perfectly straight, others curling and spiraling with branching.  I stylized some, elongating and tapering bonds.  I made some transparent and played with colors.  I moved from a photo-realistic rendering to a more artistic rendering, attempting to give a calligraphy feel to the image. When I met with the graphics designer, I explained that I kept the atoms and their bonds the same size as I played.  I also kept the number of bonds and the geometry fixed.


There are not many places where chemistry is used as art, the National Academies building and the American Chemical Society being two I know of.  In both these cases, chemistry rules were followed and the art clearly incorporated real molecules.  I hope I am able to do as well.


The Saturday Night Live broadcast showed the same chemistry-containing ad twice. It was an ad that I am pretty certain was not checked by a chemist.  The depiction of chemistry, while effective at catching my attention, predisposed as I am to noticing chemistry, will not lead to a purchase.  I went to the web looking for the ad as I prepared to write this.



The ad caught my eye because 15 seconds in, there were purple molecules tumbling across the screen, specifically methane molecules tumbling toward the camera on a lavender background. The voice-over talks about pH, a chemical concept. 


I am 100% certain that the trademarked “lactoprebiotic™” mentioned in the ad is not methane and that each container of Vagisil® pH Balance Wash does not actually contain methane.*  The chemical and physical properties of methane just don’t allow it. No plastic bottle on a store shelf is full of methane.  Capturing and storing methane is challenging due to its gaseous state under normal conditions for temperature and pressure.  I couldn’t find an explanation of the trademarked term in the scientific literature.  It must be a term of art, not one of science.


I am left both heartened and disheartened: disheartened because of the inaccuracy, but heartened because molecular models, the chemically accurate term pH, and a chemical sounding trademark were being used to convey goodness.  A small victory for chemistry in the mainstream.


*lactoprebiotic is a trademark of  Combe Incorporated, filing date 2011-07-25 Registration Number 4388630



Mark Jones is Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow at Dow Chemical since September 2011. He spent most of his career developing catalytic processes after joining Dow in 1990. He received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Colorado-Boulder doing research unlikely to lead to an industrial career and totally unrelated to his current responsibilities.

holmgren.jpgWhen NASA was landing the first spacecraft on the moon in 1969, the whole world was watching. In Colombia, then 9-year-old Jennifer Holmgren was fascinated by the mission. She devoured every piece of news about the space program she could get her hands on.  She wanted to become an astronaut, as many children did at the time.


Years later, Holmgren isnt an astronaut, but her love for science and technology has endured, and her passion for turning innovative ideas into practical solutions has guided her on a journal of making impacts, just like NASAs space program did.


Learning to take risks

The same year NASA successfully landed the first astronauts on the moon, Holmgren moved to the U.S. with her family, when her father, a skilled aircraft mechanic had an opportunity to work in California.


As the parents expected, moving to the U.S. provided better education opportunities to Holmgren and her two younger brothers, but the impact of the move on Holmgren was beyond better schools.


I learnt to take risks by watching my parents move us from Colombia to the US, says Holmgren. I suspect my biggest motivator for taking risks is knowing that what we are trying to do must be done and that there is no downside to failure; the only downside is not trying.


Following love and passion

In high school, the already science-loving Holmgren was fascinated by chemistry, partly because of her chemistry teacher, who passionately passed along his enthusiasm for the topic to his students.


Upon graduating from high school, Holmgren decided to study chemistry at Harvey Mudd College in California, a liberal arts college known for its excellent science, engineering, and mathematics programs. The college years turned out to be a significant period in Holmgrens life. During those years Holmgrens love for chemistry intensified, and she met the love of her life, Donald Holmgren, a person whom Holmgren says has helped define who she is today.


The day before graduating from college, Holmgren married Donald. Soon they moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue PhD programs together: chemistry for her and physics for him.


Commercializing technologies

After earning her PhD in chemistry and completing a short postdoctoral training, Holmgren in 1987 joined UOP (now Honeywell UOP), a multinational petroleum technology company headquartered in Illinois.


Her decision of pursuing a career in industry instead of academia was simple: she wanted to make a difference by commercializing technologies.


I believe in what Mr. Thomas Edison has said, Vision without execution is a hallucination, says Holmgren.


Developing renewable energy

At UOP, Holmgren successfully worked on a number of diversified projects in UOPs core business areas, and she was a member of the R&D Reengineering Design Team, which transformed UOPs technology commercialization.


Holmgren enjoyed all the projects she worked on. But she developed a special interest in renewable energy.


I realized over a decade ago that the world needed to diversify its feedstock pool. This led me to thinking about renewables and especially how we could leverage existing refining resources and infrastructure to convert biological feedstocks to drop in fuels (gasoline, diesel, jet), says Holmgren. 


Holmgren and her team initially focused on gasoline and diesel. But after realizing that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was interested in finding an economic path to drop-in aviation fuels, they saw a unique business opportunity in the aviation industry.


Many people, including some colleagues, didnt think the project on developing renewable aviation fuel would work. But Holmgren marched on. Under her leadership, her team became a key driver in the companys aviation biofuel business. And UOP produced nearly all of the initial fuels used by commercial airlines for testing and certification of alternative aviation fuel for passenger flights, says Holmgren.


Honing business acumen

While working on the renewable energy project at UOP, Holmgren felt the need to hone her business acumen.


I realized early in my career that the key to success is not just having a novel technology with a lot of potential, but also having the business acumen to back it up, shares Holmgren.


Believing that a formal education in business was the most efficient way to hone the skills she needed, Holmgren decided to pursue an MBA.


After receiving her MBA from the University of Chicago, Holmgren was asked to lead both the business and technology sides of UOPs renewable fuels projects. With the newly acquired business acumen, Holmgren and her team successfully commercialized UOPs renewable portfolio.


With her outstanding performance, Holmgrens career at UOP flourished. In 2009, she was named Vice President and General Manager of the Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit at UOP LLC. And she started to devote her full attention to renewable energy.


Recycling carbon

In 2010, Holmgren left UOP for a small startup company named LanzaTech, leaving the company she had happily worked for more than 20 years and the legacy she had built behind, a move that surprised many colleagues.


It all started with a phone call from a recruiter who was searching for a CEO for LanzaTech. LanzaTech was unknown to Holmgren at the time, but its core technology caught Holmgrens attention.


Founded in 2005 by Sean Simpson in New Zealand, LanzaTechs core technology centers around utilizing gas-fermenting microbes unique property to convert carbon-rich waste gases such as carbon monoxide into liquid chemical products such as ethanol through gas fermentation. The companys mission is to create green products that meet the triple bottom line social, environmental, and economic.


Even though the technology was sound and tested, transforming the technology into a successful business turned out to be challenging, especially in the early years. Simpson wanted to find a CEO who could help LanzaTechs commercialization.


And Holmgren didnt disappoint. Since joining LanzaTech, Holmgren has helped attract millions in investment, move LanzaTechs headquarters from New Zealand to Illinois, USA, and expand the business to China, India, and Europe.


Challenges and rewards

When asked about the biggest challenges about her job, Holmgren says: The most difficult part of new technology commercialization is the need to balance commercialization with continued improvements in technology.


In the early days of a technology, improvements happen so quickly that it is difficult to freeze a design and take that to commercial. This is a very important step as without a commercial unit operating you cant reduce the cost of capital or production as you cannot begin down the path to value engineer and intensify the technology. These are critical in getting to an economic nth unit design, yet it is hard to know when to draw the line and begin to build the first commercial unit, she explains.


Holmgren believes that, the greatest challenges in technology development and deployment can always be overcome by working with a multidisciplinary team.


Over the years, Holmgren has received numerous prestigious awards and recognitions, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) in 2010, and the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology in 2015. Biofuel Digest, a biofuels industry daily newsletter based in Miami, Florida, named Holmgren one of the top 5 most influential leaders in the Biofuels Industry for 2013-2014, and the number 2 most influential leader in the Bioeconomy for 2015-2016.


But to Holmgren, the greatest joy comes from knowing that the benefits of a successful renewable energy business will go far beyond the profits reported.




Yanni Wang is a principal scientific writer and the owner of International Biomedical Communications, a company dedicated to translating research data into clear messages. Yanni has a PhD in chemistry and writes about biomedical research-related topics for professional audiences and the general public.

ACS Industry

Demographics Destiny

Posted by ACS Industry Jun 1, 2016



Retirement trends are destined to have a major impact on the chemical industry. Ten thousand  Americans have been retiring every day since 2011, and the same trend will continue until 2030, according to Pew Institute research. As a result, household spending patterns are undergoing major change, given that people’s spending starts to drop quite sharply once they reach the age of 55.  Not surprisingly,  the U.S. economy has slowed, as 70% of GDP comes from consumer spending.


This paradigm shift has enormous implications for chemical companies, given that most of their production—think autos, housing, electronics, pharmaceuticals as examples—is driven by consumer demand.  It also means that affordability, and a focus on essentials, are becoming the critical drivers for future success.  New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the extent of the changes that have already taken place since 2000. The chart above shows:

  • Back in 2000, there were 65 million households in the Wealth Creator (age 25 – 54) cohort, each spending a median $60,000 (in 2015).  And there were just 36 million in the lower-spending New Olders (age 55+) cohort, each spending $43,000
  • Last year, the number of Wealth Creators was virtually unchanged at 66 million, and their spending was plateaued at $61,000/year.  But the number of New Olders had jumped almost 50%  to 53 million, and their median spend had risen only 16% to $50,000/year

This spending increase by the New Olders (age 55+) is likely only a temporary phenomenon, however, as the second chart shows. The reason is that the decline in spending accelerates with age - nearly halving in the 75+ age group versus the peak-spending 45 – 54 age group.  This matters, as the boom in the number of older households is being driven by the ageing of the Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, and includes people who are between 52 and 70 years old in 2016.

The oldest Boomers only became  New Olders (age 55+) in 2001, and so, as a group, the Boomers are still concentrated in the 55 – 64 age group.  But this will start to change in 2021 as they begin to join the lowest-spending 75+ group. New Olders spending will likely then start to plateau and then decline, as latest Social Security Administration forecasts suggest the average 65-year old now has 20 years of life expectancy.


The chart also provides some tantalising glimpses of how spending changes in various categories with age:

  • Housing is the largest single spend.  It peaks in the 35 – 44 age group, and is over a third lower in the 75+ age group
  • Food, drink & tobacco, and entertainment, also peak then.  Spend on these items then halves by age 75+
  • Spend on transport peaks in the 45 – 54 age group, and more than halves by age 75+
  • Spend on clothing and education peak also peak then, and then falls around three-quarters by age 75+; pension spending peaks then too, and drops to zero from 75+
  • Healthcare spend peaks later, in the 65 – 74 age group, and Others (miscellaneous and cash spending) peaks at 75+

These trends have major implications for chemical companies and those working for them.  New business models are urgently required, as I shall discuss next month, if revenues and profits are to continue to increase.  Demographics are destiny, after all, and it takes 25 years for a new baby to join the Wealth Creator (age 25-54) generation.  A decline in spending patterns is therefore inevitable over the next couple of decades, even if American women were to suddenly decide tomorrow to spark a new baby boom.


Paul Hodges is chairman of International eChem (, trusted advisers to the chemical industry and its investment community. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Industrial Council on chemicals, advanced materials and biotechnology, and presents the ACS ‘Chemistry & the Economy’ webinars.

The ACS What Chemists Do short videos profile chemists and the diversity of careers in the scientific profession.


Phillip Hustad is a senior research scientist at Dow Electronic Materials. As a synthetic chemist, Hustad’s research focuses on utilizing polyethylene to create a wide range of materials. Watch Hustad’s video to learn more about what he does and how he started his career at Dow.




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ACS Multimedia does not endorse any products or services. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the presenter and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the American Chemical Society.

chumoyer.pngEinstein once said, I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. Many scientists share such a trait of curiosity, and Margaret Chu-Moyer is one of them.


I am curious about everything, and I am fascinated by molecules, she confesses.


An early fascination

Growing up in Southern California, Chu-Moyer was exposed to science at an early age.  Like many chemists, Chu-Moyer fell in love with chemistry because of her high school chemistry teacher, who showed her that chemistry is everywhere in the daily life.


What are the chemicals in the shampoo bottle? How does chlorine keep a pool fresh? And why do medicines help people feel better? Those were the type of questions young Chu-Moyer asked all the time.


I used to study toothpaste and shampoo labels intently, Chu-Moyer recalls her early fascination with chemical compounds.


Those long, strange names such as sodium laurel sulfate and glycerol, what do they mean? She wondered.


A quest

The strong desire to solve the mystery behind the labels and long names, plus her experience with chemistry in high school, propelled Chu-Moyer to take an organic chemistry course while pursuing her undergraduate study at the University of California, Berkeley. 


The course, taught by Professor Henry Rapoport, a renowned organic chemist and a popular chemistry teacher at Berkeley, further enhanced Chu-Moyers fascination with molecules. After overhearing that it was possible to learn how to do research in Rapoports lab, Chu-Moyer approached him at the end of the course, and was accepted to study alkaloid total synthesis.


The two-year long research experience at Rapoports lab was positive, but Chu-Moyer was not yet convinced that chemistry was truly for her. She loved chemistry, but she was also interested in medicine. To figure out where her career path might lie, upon graduating from UC Berkeley with a BS degree, Chu-Moyer took a lab associate position at Abbott Laboratories (now AbbVie), where she started to see the possibility of having a fun and fulfilling career in medicinal chemistry.


Working with a super enthusiastic boss and seeing the type of work he and the other PhD-level chemists were doing, it really made me want to return to graduate school to receive further training so I could direct independent research in medicinal chemistry, Chu-Moyer recalls.


Honing skills

Chu-Moyers interest in how medicines work led her to Professor Samuel Danishefskys lab at Yale University. The learning experience at Danishefskys lab turned out to be invaluable. The famed professor not only taught her what it took to become a true scientist, but also showed her how to lead and guide others to make a big impact.


In the next 4 years, Chu-Moyer worked hard and learned as much as she could. Her talent in chemical research started to show, and her supervisor noticed.


“She is highly creative, dedicated, accurate and extremely well focused,” Danishefsky once commented about Chu-Moyer. “As one who has watched many generations of graduate students, Ive seen that it is often the case that very high levels of creativity are compromised by a lack of attention to detail and a lack of concern over the fine points of a problem. What makes Margaret different is that she combines extraordinary creativity with full scholarship and meticulous attention to detail.”


In 1993 Chu-Moyer graduated with a PhD in organic chemistry. Her independent study on Total Synthesis of the Antitumor Antibiotic Myrocin C earned her the Richard Wolfgang Memorial Prize, a prestigious award recognizing the best doctoral thesis of a graduating chemistry student at Yale. And her collaborative work on indolizomycin and calicheamicin g1I conducted before Chu-Moyer started her thesis study and after she had completed her thesis work, respectively also earned her recognition in the field and resulted in multiple publications.


Putting skills to work

Upon graduating from Yale Chu-Moyer joined Pfizer in Connecticut as a research scientist and started to help make therapeutic products she once was curious about. Her creativity and outstanding research skills started to bear fruit quickly. Shortly after joining Pfizer, Chu-Moyer discovered a clinical candidate for diabetic complications. In the following years, she and her colleagues further identified more than a dozen promising clinical candidates with potentials to treat various types of metabolic diseases; and her role gradually evolved from a research scientist to a project leader, a manager, and a senior director.


In 2009 Chu-Moyer moved to Amgen to lead the companys Medicinal Chemistry group in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With her proven ability to lead multi-functional teams, within a year after joining Amgen she was appointed as site head for the whole Amgen Cambridge location, a role she held for over 4 years. In 2014, her responsibilities further expanded to include all of Amgens Medicinal Chemistry efforts. As a result, she was managing more than 100 chemists located in both Cambridge and Thousand Oaks in California. In her new role, she successfully led the reorganization efforts that transformed Amgens medicinal chemistry into a single, cohesive unit with an aligned strategy for delivering the small molecule portfolio.  More recently, Chu-Moyers responsibility has further increased as Amgen combined other chemistry functions with the Medicinal Chemistry unit.


Today at Amgen, Chu-Moyers main research focus is leading her teams to identify small molecule therapeutics with potentials in multiple therapeutic areas. Under her leadership, her teams have successfully identified multiple promising clinical candidates for a number of diseases, including heart failure and Alzheimers disease.


Tough challenges and strategic approaches

Medicinal chemistry is not black and white, says Chu-Moyer.


There is a lot of judgement that goes into defining the target product profile and the right molecule for the job. In addition, translation to the clinic is still relatively inexactthere remains significant human biology that we still do not understand. So, a major challenge for medicinal chemistry has been to make the appropriate tradeoffs of certain molecule properties relative to others to achieve the best chance of clinical success, well before there is any concrete evidence favoring one profile over any other.


And her strategy for tackling such challenges?


I have a multi-pronged approach to this: (1) Align as much as possible the different functions perspectives on what the molecule profile should be; (2) try very hard not to succumb to false precision sometimes we read too much into pre-clinical findings; and (3) take a stand, make a decision and see it through if it isnt right, change the approach and try again, Chu-Moyer shares.



Making impact on peoples lives

From a teenage girl studying toothpaste labels to a scientist making life-changing therapeutic products, Chu-Moyers fascination with molecules has led her to a challenging yet fulfilling journey in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.

Today she is as curious and passionate about molecules as before, but what she wants to know and achieve is much more than simply figuring out the meanings of the long, strange chemical names.


To her, diseases are personal, and so are making potentially life-saving compounds.


Seeing the molecule you helped develop start to shrink a tumor wow! That is what this career is about, she says.




Yanni Wang is a principal scientific writer and the owner of International Biomedical Communications, a company dedicated to translating research data into clear messages. Yanni has a PhD in chemistry and writes about biomedical research-related topics for professional audiences and the general public.

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My hands are a bit sore.  So are my shoulders.  I spent the last two evenings with an ax in my hand.  I really wish that wasn't the case.  I tried hard to keep the two ash trees that I hacked up alive. Their deaths, while not caused by chemistry, were due to a failing of chemistry.


I live in Michigan, a state now past the crest of an infestation of the emerald ash borer.  The infestation is on the wane because there are so few ash trees left. The borer has killed them all.  It is an ugly death.  The borer is a tiny bug, less than half an inch long.  The borer eats ash leaves, a minor issue for the tree, but when it mates, eggs are deposited on the bark of the tree. Larvae emerge and burrow into the bark. It is the larvae that ultimately kill the tree.


The larvae tunnel.  They tunnel into the bark into the cambial layer, the region between the outer bark and the wood, where they will spend their larval phase. They feed on phloem, the layer that conducts sugar and other nutrients to the tree. The action of the larvae distrusts the flow, depriving the tree of nutrients, slowly killing the tree.  The pupae hunker down for the winter, erupting through the bark in the spring.  Infected trees begin to lose their outer bark, resulting in “blinding” patches where the smooth, orangish underbark is exposed by the loss of the rough, gray, weathered outer bark.


I am not clear on whether it is the emergence of the beetles or the action of predators hunting the larvae that knock the bark off the tree. What I am clear about is how depressing it is to look at a majestic tree with its bark falling off.  Whole forests of ash trees stand in Michigan, dead, with their rough bark removed, now dot the landscape.


Two of the largest trees on my lot were ash trees. One was by far the tallest tree around. It was a magnificent tree, over eight feet in circumference at its base.  About 30 feet off the ground, it split in a beautiful Y, each arm reaching skyward, ultimately reaching about 70 feet.  It was a tree that I assumed I could save from the scourge sweeping through Michigan.


The borer is native to Asia, assumed to have arrived in the Detroit area in the 1990s.  First reports of dead trees in Detroit were in 2002.  My ash trees are a two hour drive away from those first dead trees.  I first saw an ash borer about 6 years ago.  I remember it well.  It is a striking bug, a beautiful iridescent emerald green.  It had taken about 8 years to go 120 miles. Signs in southern Michigan were warning about the borer, mandating steps to keep it from spreading and requesting reporting of any infestation.  By the time that I called to report my sighting, it was old news for my area. Today, reporting for Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is no longer required: the area is fully infested.


I decided to save my ash trees through chemistry.  Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide, a member of the frequently maligned neonicotinoid family. I spent a total of several hundred dollars in my attempt to save the trees.  They both leafed out last year, at least two years after every other ash tree in the area was dead.  By the end of the summer, large areas of the crowns of both trees had lost their leaves. Areas of the smooth orange bark could be seen with binoculars. The patient was clearly dying.  Chemistry had let me down.


The trees are now down, cut down during the winter. Counting tree rings on a big tree is harder than I thought it would be.  The big tree was more than 60 years old.  I am not sure that I can accurately say it was struck down in its prime, but it was surely earlier than it should have been.  It was one of the only times in my life that a pest problem wasn't solved quickly and easily with chemistry.  This time biology won.


We are on a precipice with the arrival of powerful synthetic biology tools, if we haven’t already tumbled over.  Biologists – or are they biochemists? – have now engineered and released mosquitos modified to destroy a population.  In this case, it is the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, an invasive species to the Western Hemisphere, but one that has been here for centuries.  I don’t have great love for any animal intent on sucking blood, but A. Aegypti is a disease carrier. It is commonly called the Yellow Fever Mosquito, but more lately it has been implicated in carrying a host of other diseases including chikungunya, dengue fever and, most recently, zika.


Oxitec has completed a number of successful trials releasing “self-limiting” mosquitos.  That is the name given to their genetic modification that creates mosquitos that require tetracycline to reproduce normally.  Without it, the offspring die.


Releasing mosquitos carrying the trait can cause a rapid drop in the population, potentially eradicating it.  I didn’t realize that we had gone so far as to release such organisms into the wild.  I thought it was still a matter of discussion, as it is in the CRISPR/Cas9 discussion.  Gene drives made possible with this powerful new technology hold the promise of creating traits that are always inherited, including those powerful enough to wipe out a species.


Society cannot bring itself to destroy the last samples of smallpox, scourge that it is. Yet, we’ve taken steps to eradicate a higher species.  I feel a bit uneasy about the potential to destroy a species that is in an established, larger ecosystem, even one as easily hated as a disease carrying, blood sucking pest.  It is clear that the technology is ready to go.  The ACS will hold a series of talks examining the power and implications of genetic modifications at the Philadelphia National Meeting.  I am hoping that it brings some clarity to my thoughts on the matter.


As I look at the pile of ash firewood that was once a magnificent tree, I feel sad that gene drives or self-limiting modified ash borers were not deployed to stop the invasive borer. I would have deployed them to stop the emerald ash borer.  It is rapidly moving and invasive.  It does not belong in the ecosystem here and it is well isolated from the native population.  It is too late for my ash trees, but not too late to stop the scourge before it wipes out every ash tree.  It is also not too late for the next time an invasive scourge begins to wreak havoc.  I don’t know when it will happen, but history teaches us that it certainly will.



Mark Jones is Executive External Strategy and Communications Fellow at Dow Chemical since September 2011. He spent most of his career developing catalytic processes after joining Dow in 1990. He received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Colorado-Boulder doing research unlikely to lead to an industrial career and totally unrelated to his current responsibilities.

The ACS What Chemists Do short videos profile chemists and the diversity of careers in the scientific profession.


Rolf Schlake is the president and CEO of Applied Separations, Inc. Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Schlake’s company specializes in manufacturing supercritical fluids equipment and DNA forensic kits. Learn more about the use of supercritical fluids in chemistry in this video.



Visit to discover the various industry member programs at the American Chemical Society.


ACS Multimedia does not endorse any products or services. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the presenter and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the American Chemical Society.

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Are you looking for a quick-and-easy way to gather local industry members and industry professionals to network and engage them in your local section activities?


If so, we have the perfect solution: the new ACS Network & Learn program!


Under the program, we provide an exclusive, free video on an industry-relevant topic that can serve as a centerpiece for your networking events. The 30-minute presentation provides information, tips, and resources aimed at helping business professionals to streamline their processes, bolster business growth, and reduce regulatory pitfalls.


You provide the space, invite your guests from your local business community, and we will provide the content and promotional and support materials to help you build a complete program. It’s that easy!


Register now to receive the first video, which will be released in early May:


“Network & Learn: Consultants Tackle Your EPA Questions”

Register now at:


The video will feature three consultants who answer commonly asked questions related to Environmental Protection Agency regulation:


--Keith Belton, founder and principal of Pareto Policy Solutions in Washington, D.C.

--Marie Maks, founder of Marie Maks Regulatory Consulting in Wilmington, Del.

--Tony Noce, principal consultant at Haley & Aldrich in Bedford, N.H.


As you know, compliance with regulation is critical to any business, especially small businesses. For them, one fine alone could be enough to make them close their doors.  In this video, these consultants talk about how chemical businesses most run afoul of EPA, and offer tips and advice for remaining compliant within the complex regulatory system.


In addition to the video, we will provide a promotional flyer that you can easily customize. Also included is a list of tips for hosting a successful event, including inviting a local expert to lead a live, post-video discussion.


The Network & Learn program is sponsored by Procter & Gamble with support from ACS Immediate Past President Dr. Diane Grob Schmidt.


Questions? Please contact me!


Susan J. Ainsworth

Manager, Industry Member Programs

American Chemical Society


Hurrah! was my first response when learning that the proposed Pfizer/Allegan merger deal had been cancelled.  Of course, there were fewer cheers in Wall Street, where advisers to the deal will lose more than $200m of potential fees.  And Pfizer itself stands to lose up to $400m to Allergan in break-up fees. But overall, the end of the deal is excellent news for anyone concerned with the long-term health of Pfizer itself, and of course for everyone who works in the pharma industry. 


The very size of these fees confirms the flawed logic of the deal.  Think how much real value could have been created if the Pfizer board had chosen to invest these sums in building its own business.  The fact that around $600m was at play in a deal that was solely about tax savings, tells its own story.  And politically, the deal was clearly most unwise, given that it was unanimously denounced by those across the political spectrum. It succeeded in uniting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in opposition, creating a rare moment of bi-partisan harmony in the otherwise bitter primary campaign. 


But why was it left to the U.S. Treasury Department to step in and stop the deal, in order to protect the public purse?  In my post last November, I had hoped that the eminent scientists on Pfizer’s board would have been the ones to veto it.  After all, as John LaMattina, Pfizer’s former head of R&D, had warned, the company’s current research activity would almost certainly have been targeted for major cost savings, given that Allergan’s CEO seemed set to take charge of new drug research and development:


“It is hard to believe that Pfizer, a company with a long history of discovering many of its own products, would put someone in charge with an avowed distaste for the challenges of drug research,” LaMattina said.


The question now, of course, is: what will the deal’s termination mean for Pfizer employees and for the future of its research activity? The good news is that the redundancies that were inevitable if the merger had gone ahead will not now happen.  But worryingly, it seems that financial engineering is still the main focus for Pfizer’s CEO, Ian Read.  Now that the merger with Allergan has failed, he has already indicated that he intends to break-up the company by selling off those businesses focused on low-cost drugs. It seems he wants to continue to pursue a high-margin strategy, as described by Forbes magazine, which reported last year that “34% of Pfizer’s revenue growth over the past 3 years has come from increasing prices on existing drugs.”


Surely, it is obvious that this strategy is taking Pfizer in entirely the wrong direction? 


The tax-inversion deal itself was an oxymoron.  It makes no sense at all for a company like Pfizer to spend so much effort on trying to artificially reduce its tax bill, when it depends on public funding for much of its revenue?  “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” is surely the sensible positioning in this area?


The strategy of aiming to grow profit by raising prices – for no additional public benefit - is similarly misconceived.  Surely, Pfizer’s board members have realised that the goose which has laid the golden egg for this type of approach is nearing the end of its useful life?  U.S. tax revenues, like those of most developed countries, are already coming under major pressure from population ageing. As we have discussed in my  ‘Chemistry & the Economy’ webinars, which run every six months, U.S. and other state-funded medical systems face a major cash crunch in coming years. 


The Trustees of the Medicare program have already warned that funding for hospital benefits will run out in just 15 years’ time.  And their latest report says they are now assuming “a substantial reduction in per capita health expenditure growth rates relative to historical experience.”  Other wealthy countries are equally cash-strapped.  The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), already requires physicians to offer treatment based on cost effectiveness.  


The failure of the Allergan deal needs to be a wake-up call for Pfizer’s top management.  Any approach that is effectively based on milking the tax-payer is doomed to failure in today’s marketplace.  Instead, affordability and value-for-money will be the critical success factors for the future.


Pfizer needs to bring in new strategy advisers, immediately, who are more attuned to this real world.  The company needs advisers who will tell the board that selling off the lower-margin generics business is exactly the wrong move to make.  The current focus on high-priced niche markets is never likely to prove a recipe for success, given Pfizer’s position as the world’s largest pharma company. Rather, it risks confirming the old adage - namely that the easiest way of creating a small company, is to start with a large one.



Paul Hodges is chairman of International eChem (, trusted advisers to the chemical industry and its investment community. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Industrial Council on chemicals, advanced materials and biotechnology, and presents the ACS ‘Chemistry & the Economy’ webinars.

The ACS What Chemists Do short videos profile chemists and the diversity of careers in the scientific profession.


Hans Plugge, S.M., is a senior database toxicologist at 3E Company. Plugge explains his day-to-day responsibilities and shares his tips about fundamental courses that are helpful for students interested in toxicology.



Visit to discover the various industry member programs at the American Chemical Society.  What Chemists Do is produced by ACS Webinars.

The following multipart blog series was inspired by a conversation among a few friends about scientific communication, the current state of education in science and scientific integrity. To adequately cover such a broad topic, I’ve chosen to break it up into smaller, connected parts.


In the first entry of this series, I discussed scientific integrity and its vital role in changing the atmosphere of mistrust in corporate science. My second post explored the importance of clear and honest communication with the general public. I would like to wrap up the series exploring scientific literacy in the internet age and the interrelatedness of these topics in elevating the scientific public discourse.


In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a paper in The Lancet suggesting a link between the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Although the science in the paper was relatively soon shown to be complete bunk and the original paper retracted by the journal editors, the conclusions had already spread throughout the Internet and the pseudoscience community. Anti-vaccination campaigns spread across the western world. One of the biggest perpetuators of this false link between vaccinations and autism was talk show hostess, Jenny McCarthy, whose own son is autistic. Her very public platform led to the propagation of anti-vaccine websites and blogs across the Internet. Mothers in search of information would turn to the Internet and see more and more postings from other mothers with anecdotes of how their child developed signs of autism after receiving a vaccination. Even a current leading Presidential candidate has perpetuated the myth. The very real outcome of this pseudoscience is a decrease in vaccination rates and resurgence in diseases that were once under control in the developed world. In 2015, the US had its first death from measles in twelve years due to an outbreak that originated at Disneyland in late 2014.



So, where did we go so horribly wrong? The information age brought about by the explosion of the Internet has been a blessing and a curse. What used to be considered the body of knowledge existed in the form of encyclopedias on the bookshelf in your room. Now, most people carry orders of magnitude more information at their fingertips in the form of the smart phone in their pocket. The answer to most questions can be found with a swipe and a click. Unfortunately, that virtual bookshelf is also full of misguided opinion and misinformation. Google University does not make us all Ph.D.’s. In fact, we most often use the Internet to find information that supports our own preconceived notions. This phenomenon is known as confirmation bias and is well documented. We tend to search and find information that supports our already conceived opinions. Worse, social media algorithms tend to show us links that support our views based on our online activities. In short, we are surrounded by a world that wants to confirm our beliefs for us in spite of data contrary to those views. Far too often when found swimming in a sea of data, we fall back to the familiar and the trusted. We seek out the opinions of friends or family. Worse, we hear something from an adored celebrity and take it as fact.



In a world of information overload, critical thinking is crucial to sorting the truth from the noise. This is especially true in science. As parents and scientists, it is imperative that we teach our children critical thinking skills. We should be willing to go to schools on career days, volunteer in science classrooms, and engage in ways that promote critical thinking skills in our children. We need to actively work to raise the level of STEM literacy in this country so that in this massive alphabet soup of information, society will be able to sort through the bytes and influence public discourse based on facts and logic.


Science-based industries must play their part in defending their science against biased misinformation in the name of social and political agendas. If companies will not stand up for themselves, then the informed public will not likely stand up for them. But companies alone will not be successful in dispelling scientific misinformation. As individuals it is critical for us to engage our friends, families, and acquaintances when we see them propagating unsound science. In addition to promoting critical thinking, as discussed previously, we must always be acting ethically in our science; but we must also communicate with our audiences factually using language that is clearly understood by our audiences. The key to making all of these things work is trust. When we behave with integrity, communicate openly and clearly, and use defensible fact-based arguments, we create an atmosphere where our audience will listen with an open mind. Having increased critical thinking and scientific literacy, we will have created a field that is fertile for the seeds of science to germinate and grow. It is with this approach and in this environment that we have our best hope for removing “shill” from the scientific lexicon.


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Jeff Seale is a Science Fellow at Monsanto where he has worked for 18 years building world-class protein engineering platforms and developing the next generation of science leaders. Outside of work he enjoys watching his children's artistic and athletic endeavors, sailing with friends and working to end extreme global poverty with the ONE Campaign. (The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Monsanto.)

We’d like to start off by thanking everyone who attended the San Diego National Meeting.  The National Meeting featured a smorgasbord of activities for industry members, as pointed out by Mark Jones.  Now that the San Diego National Meeting is over, we would like to reflect on some of those industry-focused events and thank their attendees and the partners who helped put the programs together.


2016 National Chemical Technician Award Luncheon

IMG_5497.JPGThe National Chemical Technician Award was established in 1989 to recognize outstanding career achievements of exceptional technicians.  The award is administered by the ACS Committee on Technician Affairs (CTA). This year, it was presented to Brian McCauley of DuPont at CTA's spring luncheon in San Diego. The award luncheon was held at the 2016 ACS spring national meeting in San Diego, California.  “I have always felt at home in the lab,” said McCauley, during his acceptance speech, “and I am truly pleased that work I enjoy can have such an important impact on the world.”


McCauley is an associate investigator in the Corporate Center for Analytical Sciences group of DuPont Science & Innovation. Based at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Del., he is responsible for new method development for new materials, and product and project development support. He joined DuPont in 2009. McCauley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Colorado School of Mines. 


Industry Networking Event


Thank you to everyone who attended for making the night a success. Over 150 people attended the Industry Networking Event at the Harbor House Restaurant in Seaport Village, including ACS Executive Director and CEO Tom Connelly and Corporation Associates Committee Chair and ACS Immediate Past President Diane Grob Schmidt.  Diane addressed and welcomed the crowd before David Harwell, Assistant Director of Industry Member Programs, introduced the 2016 NCTA winner.


The event, which featured food, drink, and a raffle, was cosponsored by Corporation Associates (CA) and the Polymer Division’s Industry Advisory Board (IAB). Special thanks to Travis Baughman of DSM, Diana Gerbi of 3M, Michael Hunt of Polymaterials, and Mike Abrams of Arkema, who organized the event. 


Your EPA Questions Recorded For May Network & Learn Event

IMG_6989.JPGIf you saw a video crew filming people posing Environmental Protection Agency-related questions in San Diego, you may have been witnessing preparations for the upcoming Industry Member Programs Network & Learn program.  IMP manager Susan Ainsworth and the ACS Webinars team have been preparing a video that will feature a cadre of chemical industry consultants answering questions that are commonly asked about EPA regulations.


The video will be available in May, and will serve as a centerpiece for networking events that we invite you to host across the U.S. You provide the space, invite your guests from your local business community, and any local regulatory experts, and we will provide the content and support materials.  It’s that easy! Stay tuned for more information.




Photographs: From left to right, NCTA story: Kara Allen, Chair of CTA; Alexa Dembek, Director, Science & Innovation, DuPont; Brian McCauley, 2016 NCTA Winner, Dupont; John Gavenonis, Ph.D., CSCP Technical Manager, Dupont; and Douglas Muzyka, Senior VP and Chief Science & Technology Officer, Dupont. Industry Networking Event: Diana Gerbi, Vice-Chair of POLY and Senior Technical Manager, 3M; David Harwell, Assistant Director of Industry Member Programs, ACS; Diane Grob Schmidt, ACS Immediate Past President and Chair of Committee on Corporation Associates; and ACS Executive Director and CEO Tom Connely; N&L Filming: Michael David, ACS Webinars; Susan Ainsworth, ACS IMP Manager; and James Chao, retired IBM chemist and ACS Fellow.

There’s no question that plastics are extremely important to the global economy. Nobody argues about that. Production of plastics has risen from 15 million tonnes in 1964--when the industry began the switch to oil and gas feedstocks--to more than 300 million tonnes today.  Plastic packaging, which represents around 26% of this volume, provides major benefits in terms of reducing food waste, and reducing fuel consumption by bringing packaging weight down.


But the problem is this: we cannot keep throwing plastic away after just one use.


Ninety-five percent of plastic packaging is currently lost to the economy after a short first-use cycle.  This volume is worth between $80 billion and $120 billion per year.  Today’s very low recycling and reuse rates mean that the oceans already contain 150 million tonnes of plastics.  And estimates suggest that by 2025, they will contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish.


These estimates come from a major new report, “The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics”, jointly published by the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and McKinsey.  The report states that shifting to a circular model – which aims to keep materials in use in one form or another (as shown in the chart below) rather than discarding them in landfills--could generate a $700 billion economic opportunity. A significant proportion of that would be attributable to packaging.


The Waste Hierarchy



That big economic opportunity stems from solving the plastics industries’ glaring sustainability problems. Plastics production already accounts for around 6% of global oil consumption--equal to the aviation sector.  By 2050, if current growth continues, it will account for 15% of the world’s total carbon budget (the level required to keep below the 2°C target for limiting global warming).  This is unsupportable.


The problem is that almost all of today’s volume is only used once, and just 15% is collected for recycling.  After allowing for loss during sorting and reprocessing, only 5% is actually retained for future use.


Compared with other industries, the plastics industry has a poor recycling profile. For example, 58% of paper and between 70% - 90% of iron and steel are recycled globally. 


Too much plastic ends up either on the streets in towns and cities, or in the world’s oceans.  The report’s authors calculate that the resultant clean-up costs, when added to the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, amount to around $40 billion/year--more than the industry’s current profits.


Clearly something needs to change, and quickly.  Already, a number of cities and countries have moved to limit or ban the use of single-use plastic bags in the retail sector.  The 8 million tonnes of plastics that currently leak into the oceans are the equivalent of dumping one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. And plastics, as the report notes, take centuries to fully decompose in the marine environment, and have very negative effects on ecosystems and the economic activities that depend on them.


The report—which is based on expert evidence from major plastic producers and polymer convertors, as well as major brands such as Coca-Cola—argues that a change of mind set is required.  It suggests that one priority should be to rethink current business models, and create an effective after-use plastics economy.  As the chart suggests:

  • One of the first steps should be to increase the economics, quality, and uptake of recycling
  • This should not be difficult, given the low level of current performance
  • The industry needs to focus on reducing the amount of plastic that is simply left lying around, creating urban and marine pollution
  • The industry also needs to work with customers to enable reuse of plastic, and to reduce the volume of plastics currently being used.


The industry has been very successful over the past 50 years in generating revenue and profits from the value of the molecules that it produces.  Now it needs to move to a more service-driven model, which focuses on the value provided by the molecules. Using our expertise to help people to obtain more value from our products will be critical in driving revenue and profit growth in the future.


The skills and expertise of ACS members will be critical to achieving the transformation now urgently required.



Paul Hodges is chairman of International eChem (, trusted advisers to the chemical industry and its investment community. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Industrial Council on chemicals, advanced materials and biotechnology, and presents the ACS ‘Chemistry & the Economy’ webinars.