Meeting/Event Information

    Education Night: "125 Years of Chemistry in Chicago" with Josh Kurutz + Pre-dinner Education Speaker

    September 25, 2020
    7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
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    Virtual Meeting
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    Education Night

    Josh Kurutz, PhD

    - Chicago ACS Historian -
    NMR Facility Manager, University of Chicago

    "125 Years of Chemistry in Chicago"


    Chicago has been an exciting place for chemistry for well over a century, and since 1895 the Chicago Section of the ACS has been a vital hub of the enterprise. We celebrate our quasquicentennial by exploring the Section’s history and some of its most important people, institutions, projects, awards, and science. We will delve into stories that illustrate the Section’s roles partnering with local institutions in education, industry, and others. Also, we will pay particular attention to how the Section has addressed social issues such as empowering women and people of color. Photos from the curated Section archive will help bring the discussion to life.


    • 6:30 - 7:00  Preliminary talk
    • 7:00 - 7:15  Review of high school scholarship winners and their teachers
    • 7:15 - 8:00  Main presentaiton

    TEACHERS! All K-12 educators can receive continuing education credits for attending our meetings. Get your CE form at the registration desk.


    PolyWhat? Application of STEM Using Polymers

    This year's National Chemistry Weeks Theme stems around the concepts of Polymers. This talk will help teachers get ready to celebrate the week with the many opportunities that the local section has to offer. After attending the talk you will be able to deepen your students' STEM experience by adding various polymer inquiry/engineering design challenges. Take “traditionally fun" polymer activities and turn them into NGSS investigations to create more critical thinkers in the classroom. Updates of the section’s plan will be discussed at the meeting.

    Name of Speaker at Pre-dinner Event:
    Photo of Sherri Rukes
    Sherri Rukes 
    Teacher, Libertyville High School
    Biography of Speaker at Pre-dinner Event:
    Ms. Sherri Conn Rukes is currently teaching AP Chemistry and chemistry honors at Libertyville High School in Libertyville, IL. During her teaching career, she has taught a wide range of classes from all levels of Physics, Chemistry and Physical Science. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics from the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana and an M.S. in Education from NOVA Southeastern University in Florida. Sherri has also done research at Northwestern University in Material Science for several summers. Some of the topics researched was on the degradation of multi-walled nanotubes (MWNT) in a tri-block co-polymer, efficiency of solid oxide fuel cells, and two projects with the conservation of famous artwork –George Seurat’s A Sunday of La Grande Jatte and paints which Picasso used. Her research has been published and cited in many journals. She was a Polymer Ambassador, a past president for AACT (American Association of Chemistry Teacher), chair-elect for the local section and a 2016 Golden Apple Fellow. This year, Sherri received the Emerging Star Award, the Chicago Section volunteer of the year award and became an ACS Fellow. Sherri has presented several times for American Chemical Society (ACS), the National Science Teachers association (NSTA), and varsity of state conferences.





    QUESTIONS OR NON-WEB RESERVATIONS?  Please contact the Section Office via phone (847-391-9091) or email ([email protected]).


    Dr. Josh Kurutz has been the Chicago Section’s Historian since the office’s creation in 2017 and works in the University of Chicago as the Manager of the Chemistry Department’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility. Having served as Section Chair in 2014, Secretary in 2010, Vice Chair in 2019 and 2020, he earned the Section’s Distinguished Service Award in 2019. He did his most intensive service managing the section’s web presence as co-chair of the Web/Communications-and-Technology Committee starting from 2011 through 2018, and continues to assist this work. Since 2014 he has been Chair of the Stieglitz Committee, which partners with the University of Chicago. Kurutz earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, where his research advisor was Prof. John H. Richards. He earned his Ph.D. in Biophysics with then-Assistant Prof. Laura Kiessling, in partnership with Profs. Laura Lerner, Frank Weinhold, and John Markley. He held two postdocs at the University of Chicago, one in the Dept. of Medicine with Dr. Shaohua Xu, and one in Chemistry with then-Assistant Prof. Ka Yee C. Lee. He moved on to work as the Technical Director for UChicago’s Biomolecular NMR Facility, Senior Scientist for NMR at Northwestern University, founding Community Manager for Agilent Technologies’ NMR support community Spinsights, and founding Community Manager for the broader-focused Agilent Community. He helped start the Chicago Chapter of the Malta Conferences Foundation, which has ties to the ACS and Chicago Section. Kurutz has pursued a number of activities at the interface of science and art, occasionally making radio appearances to showcase the sounds molecules make in NMR spectrometers. He is currently partnering with Tiffany Lawson of Lawson Dance Theater on a ballet about the chemical elements, Elemental, which the pandemic postponed until July 2021. He lives in Des Plaines with his wife, Heather VanBladel, a Design and Production Manager, Maine West High School senior Rose; his daughter Ella is studying Industrial Design in the DAAP school at the University of Cincinnati.



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