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WCC Newsletter

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by Despina Strong


Photo: Jonathan Clark, Puget Sound Section


Dr. Geraldine Richmond, Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon, wins the 2018 Linus Pauling Medal Award! The Linus Pauling Medal has been awarded annually since 1966 jointly by the Oregon, Portland and Puget Sound Sections of ACS. Dr Richmond is only the second female to win the award joining Jacqueline Barton, 2007.


The Linus Pauling Medal recognizes outstanding achievement in chemistry comparable to that of its namesake and the first winner, Linus Pauling. Dr Richmond’s research focuses on understanding important process that occur at liquid interfaces. Like Pauling, Dr Richmond impacted society beyond chemistry. As the founding member and director of COACh, her organization has been able to help over 20,000 women scientists in the U.S. and around the world since 1998.


Dr. Richmond has received several awards during her career including the 2018 Priestley Medal, the National Medal of Science in 2013 and the Olin Garvan Medal from the ACS in 1996 among others. In addition to these and other technical awards, Dr Richmond has been recognized with multiple awards for her education and outreach and for encouraging and mentoring women in chemistry.


The Medal was presented at ceremonies held at the University of Washington Bothell (UW - Bothell) Campus on November 17, 2018. The ceremonies included an afternoon symposium with three guest speakers invited by Dr Richmond, a student poster session and open reception and a Pauling Award Banquet. The title of her symposium talk “The Mysterious Tale of Nanoemulsions: A Story of Suspense, Suspects and Intrigue” captivated the audience. Both the symposium and the banquet were well attended by an enthusiastic audience of over 150 people. The WCC committee helped sponsor the event with a generous donation.


Despina Strong attended the event and congratulated Dr. Richmond on behalf of the committee.

By Malika Jeffries-EL


Dr Jodie Lutkenhaus.jpg


Professor Jodie Lutkenhaus, a 2018 recipient of the WCC Rising Stars Award, is the William and Ruth Neely Faculty Fellow and an Associate Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Jodie received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and her Ph.D in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After a postdoctoral position with Thomas Russell at University of Massachusetts Amherst, she joined the faculty at Yale University in. In 2010, she moved to Texas A&M University and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2015.


Jodie’s research interests focus on developing polymer thin films, coatings, electroactive polymers, polyelectrolytes, and materials for energy storage. Specific applications include stimuli-responsive smart-coatings, corrosion, dielectrics, batteries, and capacitors. Dr. Lutkenhaus also specializes in several analytical characterization techniques including differential scanning calorimetry, quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, and electrochemistry. Besides the WCC Rising Star Award, Jodie has was received several honors including: World Economic Forum Young Scientist, Kavli Fellow, NSF CAREER, AFSOR YIP, 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award. She served as the Polymers Programming Chair for AICHE (Area 8a) and currently serves as an ACS PMSE Member at Large. She is also an Editorial Advisory Board Member for ACS Macro Letters and Macromolecules and an Editorial Board Member for Scientific Reports.


Jodie says that since an early age she has enjoyed problem solving, and saw engineering as a way to keep doing that. Her family was also a major influence as her mom and dad studied chemistry and physics, respectively. Her older sister, Jessica Winter (WCC Rising Star 2014) also studied chemical engineering. Growing up, science and engineering were always part of the conversation among family. As a child, my hobbies were crossword and logic puzzles, video games, board games, and music which prepared her well for her career path. One challenge she has faced and overcome is that of criticism. In science and engineering, criticism is a part of everyday life, from receiving grades as a student to receiving feedback on your latest project. You just have to remember that the criticism is usually well-intended and the goal is to always improve. It is usually about the work and not about you, so it is important to take it in and forge ahead.

The ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC) has named the recipients of its 2019 Rising Star Awards, which recognize exceptional early- to midcareer women chemists across all areas of chemistry on a national level. The award was established in 2011 to help promote retention of women in science.


The 2019 winners are:

Annmarie Carlton, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of California Irvine


Antonella Converso, Ph.D.  Director, Discovery Chemistry, MRL Discovery Chemistry, West Point, Merck Research Laboratories


Negar Garizi, Ph.D.  Natural Products Chemistry Leader, Discovery Chemistry, Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™


Eranda Nikolla, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Wayne State University


Marilyne Stains, Ph.D.  Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


The winners will receive a stipend to cover travel expenses to an award symposium to highlight their work at the 257rd National Meeting of the ACS in Orlando, FL taking place March 31-April 4, 2019.  The WCC Rising Stars symposium will take place on Monday, April 1st. 

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Michelle Machacek photo.jpg

By Ann Weber


Rising Star Dr. Michelle Machacek acknowledges that not only does it “take a village” to put smiles on children’s faces, hers included, it also takes a village to do drug discovery.  Dr. Machacek, who received her undergraduate degree in chemistry and chemical engineering from MIT and her PhD in organic chemistry from Stanford, should know.  She is currently Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Merck and co-inventor of 28 patents covering potential therapeutic agents.  Michelle credits her mother, an experimental astrophysicist, with encouraging her to pursue a career in science by teaching her the importance of doing something she loved.  From her mother she also learned that nurturing relationships was central to success, something she has effectively applied in the highly collaborative environment at Merck.  Michelle’s research has focused on the identification of inhibitors of the enzyme spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) for the treatment of asthma.  Starting with an oral SYK inhibitor, Michelle and her team designed molecules with the requisite properties to enable inhaled delivery.  Their strategy to reduce systemic exposure was expected to give fewer side-effects, resulting in a safer drug.  This work culminated in the invention of MK-8351, which advanced into clinical development.  Michelle thanked her team, her village, recognizing that they did better science because of the way they worked together.  She also stressed the importance of mentoring and championing your colleagues to help them discover and display their true potential.  She recognized the role mentors played in her career development and the importance of giving back.  “Having a strong network supports you,” she concluded, “and is a powerful tool you can use to support others.” 


by Eugenia Narh


The Women Chemists of Color (WCoC) Networking Event took place on Sunday, March 18, 2018 from 3 - 4:30 p.m. There were six tables with various topics that attendees could choose to join depending on their interest. The topics were Career Development, Grant Writing, Mentor/Mentee Relationships, Being more assertive in negotiations and how to say no, Managing my Career - how do I get to the next step/promotion? and I'm a PH.D. - What do I do now? There were approximately fifty attendees from various backgrounds including undergraduate and graduate students, young and experienced professionals from many cultures. After simultaneous discussions at the tables, each group had the opportunity to share their discussion points with the rest of the audience. This was followed by Q&A and networking among the attendees.


For the Fall 2018 meeting, the program will take place on Monday, August 20, 2018 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Boston Hotel in Commonwealth room. This event will consist of a panel discussion for the first hour, then an open networking session in the second hour among the panelists and attendees. The discussion topic is “How to balance career and family” and the panelists include professional women with diverse backgrounds who will share their experience and advice on pursuing a successful career and balancing relationships, motherhood, caring for aging parents and loved ones and other related topics.

The ACS’ Department of Diversity programs held their diversity reception at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside on Sunday, March 18th from 5-7pm.   At the event there were seven students displaying their winning work from sister societies, The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE),  and the Society of the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics in the Sciences (SACNAS).  Attendance included members from all the diversity committees (chemists with disabilities, minority affairs, younger chemists and WCC of which included former members and current members).  The Diversity Reception was a great event and great way to catch up with everyone as the meeting week began.


Now as we start the next ACS meeting, we hope to see you in Boston on Sunday August 19th, from 5 - 7 pm at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, Back Bay B.



By Anne E. V. Gorden


Rising Star Award-winner Dr. Karen Mulfort is a chemist in the Solar Energy Conversion group at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois. Dr. Mulfort earned a dual degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. She then undertook her Ph.D. studies at Northwestern University working with Professor Joseph Hupp. While working on her research in materials chemistry and catalysis for her Ph.D., she had an opportunity to work as a graduate fellow at Argonne National Laboratory. On completing her Ph.D. in 2008, she was awarded a Director’s Postdoctoral fellowship to pursue postdoctoral research at Argonne, and was became a staff scientist as an assistant chemist in 2010. She was promoted to Chemist there in 2015. She has contributed to 5 patents and more than 40 papers.


Dr.  Mulfort has been recognized with a United States Department of Energy Early Career Research Program award for her work characterizing molecular interactions taking place within defined nanostructures in the hopes of better understanding the way molecules interact with light. This is one key step in understanding how to develop photocatalysts, light-harvesting molecules that could be used in artificial photosynthesis or new solar energy conversion materials. Dr. Mulfort says she originally became attracted to this area of materials chemistry because it not only is an exciting chance to create and explore new materials, but also “solar energy conversion will be critical for developing renewable, sustainable, clean energy for society.” In particular, she is interested in creative molecular designs that will allow the use of earth abundant metals in place of much more costly metals like iridium. This work has the potential to revolutionize how solar cells and solar collectors are made, making them less expensive, more durable, and, key to their broader acceptance, much more efficient. Dr. Mulfort enjoys the national laboratory setting as a unique place to work bringing together a larger multidisciplinary group under a larger collaborative umbrella. This allows her to do research in creative molecular and supramolecular design at the same time collaborating with experts in spectroscopy and chemical biology.


Her advice for other chemists and rising stars is something she learned in graduate school. She would encourage younger chemists to remember that science is a long game. It is a marathon not a sprint. Put in the time it takes to get that paper or that proposal, but always remember that there will be setbacks or days things do not quite work. Those
are the days to remember to keep trying and the rewards of achieving your goals.

Valerie Kuck.jpg

On Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 the WCC Luncheon featured guest speaker Valerie Kuck, winner of the 2018 Garvan-Olin medal.  After an introduction by former WCC Chair Dr. Amber Charlebois, Valerie presented her work, “Musings of an ACS Volunteer.” 


Val described how she began by volunteering for her local section. From the local section Val became active in the national Women Chemists Committee (WCC).  Val moved on from WCC to serve on the Committee on Meetings & Expositions (M&E).  During her time on M&E, Val had a crucial role in establishing the highly successful program now known as Sci-Mix.  In addition to Sci-Mix Val encouraged the society to offer very important timely programming at national meetings.  Val lead the efforts to include very large scale (arena-sized) panels on the urgent late-breaking topics such as high temperature superconductors and cold fusion. 


After her time on M&E, Val served the ACS on the Committee on Committees (ConC).  While serving on ConC, Val urged the committee to appoint more women, industrial chemists and minorities to committee positions.  Val also described her research on the composition of the faculty at Ph.D.-granting institutions. She asked, “Why are there so few women on the faculty?”  Val dug in deeply with her research efforts, including site visits an interviewed different stakeholders.  Val shared the results in publications in Chemical & Engineering News and an ACS symposium series book, “Are Women Achieving Equity in Chemistry?”.  Val concluded her talk by describing her work on the ACS Board of Directors to increase the number of women who receive ACS national technical awards.  While the numbers have seen an increase, Val encourages us all to continue to nominate the many talented women chemists we know for national technical awards!


Please join WCC in continuing to celebrate Valerie Kuck and her accomplishments for a special symposium on Monday, August 20th , 2018 at 1:30pm at the Boston Sheraton Hotel in the Independence East ballroom.


by Kim Woznack



Welcome to the Fall 2018 WCC Newsletter!  WCC has been busy during 2018 continuing to work towards our vision of “Empowering Women throughout the Chemical Enterprise”.  I’m happy to report some updates regarding our work.


During the Spring 2018 national meeting in Boston, the WCC implemented a new Project Portfolio-based committee structure.  Previously the WCC used a traditional subcommittee structure, populated by the appointed members and associate members of WCC.  One goal of implementing a new structure was to allow more input, involvement, and engagement from ACS members in carrying out the projects, programs and events.  Some of the projects that we are interested in getting help on include: planning events at the ACS national meetings (either social or technical events), publicizing WCC efforts (locally or nationally) and assisting us in the execution of WCC awards (recruiting applicants and potentially award reading).  If you are interested in helping out the WCC, please reach out to us at  In your email please mention which of these WCC efforts you are volunteering to help with. 


One of the goals of the WCC is recognition of women chemists by publicly highlighting their accomplishments.  At the upcoming Boston national meeting, we will have two very special awards symposia.  On Sunday, August 19th at 8:25am, the WCC will celebrate the winners of the WCC Merck Research Award at the Westin Boston Waterfront, Marina Ballroom II.  We will also feature a symposium in honor of Valerie Kuck recipient of the 2018 Garvan-Olin Medal.  This symposium in Val’s honor will be on Monday, August 20th, starting at 1:30pm at the Boston Sheraton Hotel, in the Independence East ballroom. 


In a recent interview with The Harvard Gazette, successful fiction writer Lauren Groff is asked by interviewer Colleen Walsh, how she has produced three novels and two short-story collections in the span of 10 years, while also being the mother of two children. e-of-mind/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%2520G azette%252020180718

Groff replied that she respectfully declined to answer this question as long as male writers are not the same question. 


I found this answer to be fascinating.  This is a question that the contributing authors of the book “Mom the Chemistry Professor” chose to tackle head on.  The second edition of this book, an official project of the WCC, was just released.  This project is directly related to another one of the goals of the WCC, which is to increase the engagement and retention of women chemists.  In order to retain women chemists who might be interested in balancing an academic chemistry career with a family, the authors from a variety of background have chosen to share their experiences, including both the challenges they have faced and the strategies they have used to succeed and flourish.  A full-day symposium featuring a variety of authors will take place on Tuesday, August 21st, at the Boston Sheraton Hotel, Liberty C.  Following the symposium, the WCC will have its Open Meeting during its Just Cocktails social gathering. 


We hope that you’ll be able to join us in Boston to advocate for, recognize and celebrate women chemists. 


by Kimberly Woznack


On Tuesday, March 20th, the WCC hosted the WCC/Eli Lilly Travel Award Poster Session at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. The WCC/Eli Lilly Travel Award provides funding for undergraduates, graduates, and post-doctoral fellows to present their research at a meeting. The Spring 2018 award winners were Alyssa Antropow (Massachesetts Institute of Technology), Karen Corbett (Florida State University), Caroline Franks (University of Virginia), Haley Irving (Portland State University), Aneta Jelowicki (University of California, Santa Barbara), Julia Jennings (University of California, Davis), Irene Kurtz (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Sara Martin (North Carolina State University), Grace McKenna (Stanford University), and Jessica Stewart (Wayne State University). Their research covered varied topics from chemical biology, organic, computational, inorganic, and polymer chemistry. The poster session was well attended by ACS governance and other conference attendees. Following the hour long poster session, the WCC/Eli Lilly Travel Award winners were honored at the subsequent WCC luncheon. Additional information, including the deadline for submitting an application for the next WCC/Eli Lilly Travel Award, can be found at the following url: velaward.html


By: Amy Balija

Rebecca Ruck Photos.jpg


The 2018 ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences sponsored by The Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation was presented to Dr. Rebecca T. Ruck, director of Process Chemistry at Merck.  Becky, who broke the gender barrier playing Little League baseball in Colonia, NJ where she grew up, has been a strong champion of women in chemistry throughout her career.   While she has never had a female manager, she acknowledged the support her male mentors have given her over the years, particularly her PhD advisor Eric Jacobsen at Harvard and Kevin Campos, her current manager at Merck.  In her honor, a WCC symposium co-sponsored by ORGN, PROF and YCC and organized by Dr. Ed Sherer was held at the 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans.  Speakers included former and current colleagues of Dr. Ruck’s: Yi Ning Ji Chen (Merck), Laura L. Anderson (University of Illinois at Chicago), Teshik P. Yoon (University of Minnesota), Jaime McCabe Dunn (Merck), Ann E. Weber (Kallyope) and Vy M. Dong (University of California Irvine).  The symposium concluded with a presentation by Becky which reflected her love of science and her passion for promoting women in chemistry.  Becky highlighted the progress she has made in implementing a number of initiatives to support women, including the WCC Merck Research Award and the Women in Chemistry symposium at Merck.  She has expanded the latter to include symposia and drop in events at Princeton, MIT and Cambridge University.  Through the active role Becky has played in recruiting and, more importantly, retaining women in Process Chemistry at Merck, she has almost single-handedly changed the face of chemistry in her department.  What’s next?  Becky continues to sponsor broader diversity and inclusion initiatives at Merck which involve manager accountability, mentoring / sponsoring tools and resources, and leave of absence best practices.  “Receiving this award is tremendous recognition for me and for Merck for what we have been able to accomplish,” she noted. “That said, we still have a long way to go, and I entreat everyone to think about how she or he can make a difference.”


By Ann Weber

A symposium organized by Dr. Kim Woznack to launch the publication of the second edition of Mom the Chemistry Professor (Springer 2018) was held at the 25th Biennial Conference on Chemical Education at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Dr. Gail Webster and Dr. Renée Cole presided over two sessions where seven women told their unique stories of pursuing both a career in academia and their path to motherhood. One of the speakers, Dr. Megan Grunert Kowalske, presented results from a qualitative study that she conducted. Her talk addressed the safety concerns identified by women chemists in academic laboratories. Each of the speakers identified systemic policy issues that women chemists confront in academia including scheduling issues when confronting infertility treatments, lack of maternity leave, challenges in child care, and inflexible tenure clock stoppage. A panel discussion at the conclusion of each session allowed for a rich discussion between the audience and the speakers.




Mom the Chemistry Professor author, Dr. Sara Mason of the University of Iowa and her daughter (in matching periodic table outfits) presenting at BCCE 2018 (photo courtesy Debbie Mitchell)


The symposium was well attended by both women and men. At one point, there were thirty-eight people seated in the audience with additional onlookers standing in the hallway. The symposium generated interest on twitter, and many attendees expressed an interest in continuing programming regarding these issues at future conferences, including ACS regional meetings.



Twitter activity after the conference


Overall, the symposium provided a much needed venue to share stories and normalize the ways in which women can combine motherhood and the professoriate. 


By - Kimberly A. Woznack

Boston, Massachusetts

August 20, 2018, 7:30 AM - Ticketed Event

At the center of industrial, academic, government, and non-profit employers … is you! Making connections is part of the foundation to get to the next level.

The three main employers within the chemical enterprise, industry, academics, and government (including non-profits) comprise of very different groups. Each have different missions with unique management styles. What does it mean to work in these fields and how does one advance in these fields? The Women in the Chemical Enterprise Breakfast will host women from each of these groups to discuss her career path and how she navigated the career ladder within her organization.

We were thrilled to have ACS Directors and ACS President-Elect, Bonnie Charpentier, as our guests for the New Orleans breakfast last March. Our guests sat at the tables with breakfast participants, answering questions. After 15 minutes, they moved to another table to ensure they interacted with as many participants as possible. Much of the feedback indicates the participants found the event worthwhile.

Due to the success of the New Orleans breakfast, we have decided to repeat the format. We have invited ACS Board members to sit with us to discuss their careers, the ACS, and employment and volunteer opportunities and challenges. We encourage you to attend and participate.

For over 20 years, the WCC has organized the Women in the Chemical Enterprise Breakfast, a long-lasting program designed to initiate discussion on topics relevant to women in the chemical sciences. Join us in New Orleans for an opportunity to network with others and a discussion about the importance networking for your career.

By Ean Warren

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By Amy Balija and Ana de Bettencourt-Dias


On Sunday, March 18th, a symposium celebrating the accomplishments of female scientists in the field of synthetic chemistry approaches towards energy and environmental challenges occurred at the 255th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans. This symposium was held in conjunction with the recent publishing of a Virtual Issue highlighting female synthetic chemists.  


Professors Ana de Bettencourt-Dias, Amy Prieto and Louise Berben, co-editors of the Virtual Issue, identified 22 female colleagues, whose research recently had been published in Inorganic Chemistry and the Journal of the American Chemical Society, on topics related to synthetic chemistry addressing challenges in energy and the environment.


Simultaneously, the three co-editors organized a symposium at the 255th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. The symposium, sponsored by the Division of Inorganic Chemistry, featured several principal investigators from the Virtual Issue and female scientists at primarily undergraduate institutions. The result was an amazingly vibrant all-day symposium, featuring 18 speakers, and the audience was treated to excellent presentations on a variety of approaches towards solving problems related to our environment and society.


As an excellent addition to the “Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water” theme of the 255th ACS National Meeting, the symposium provided a high attendance, much though-provoking discussion and hopefully will stimulate even more research progress towards addressing urgent issues in the environment and sustainability.