The April 2020 Chemical Bulletin Print

    Next Meeting

    The Chicago Section Meeting originally scheduled for April 24, 2020, will occur as a virtual meeting. See the meeting link on sidebar of home page.


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    Letter from the Chair

    Well these are indeed unusual times.  I’ve been booted from my office at North Central College and am writing from my new home office – if that’s what you can call it.  I’m trying to figure out how to do lectures and labs online and to figure out where to put all the documents that normally go to the campus network.  It’ll be a mess when I get back.  However, I am fortunate to be in my position, to have employment and family to interact with. 

    For those of you who are in more precarious positions, I hope that it doesn’t come to this, but one of the most beneficial aspects of being an ACS member is that there are resources that exist within the organization that can help you should things become less predictable and dependable.  Our Employment and Professional Relations Committee can point you in a direction to get you started.  If you are an employer and might find the need for extra help now, please contact [email protected] to let them know. 

    I’m sure you’ve already realized that the April meeting has been canceled.  We don’t yet know what to expect for May but it is looking like a postponement is in order.  Although some decisions need to be made, I am hopeful that we can have a virtual dinner meeting in the near future.  We now have a license for up to 150 people to virtually meet via the platform GoToMeeting.  Three years ago, our chair, Fran Kravitz, got the ball rolling in having satellite meeting sites that could host virtual dinner meetings, and so we have been doing virtual meetings for some time.  However, we only had a license to stream out to a few locations.  Now we can stream a meeting to almost as many as would like to attend.  Keep an eye on the webpage,, to see when this might be happening.  Till then, please be healthy and see how you might be able to help those less fortunate than ourselves in these trying times.


    Paul Brandt, Chair

    [email protected]


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    Science Diplomacy

    Chemistry for Peace

    This is a guest editorial by Zafra Lerman, president of the Malta Conferences Foundation, and Emma Zajdela, a PhD student at Northwestern University. It originally appeared in the ACS newsmagazine, Chemical & Engineering News (March 16, 2020), and is being shared with permission. Copyright 2020, American Chemical Society Canadian GST Reg. No. R127571347 Volume 98, Number 10 .

    Chemistry provides hope for peace and understanding in one of the most troubled regions of the world: the Middle East. Imagine walking into a room and encountering several round tables, each with 10 scientists from countries or regions whose governments are hostile to one another, and those scientists are discussing potential scientific collaborations with civility and friendship. At one table, for example, were representatives from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, ­Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan. Where else in the world can that happen? As one participant said, “Only at the Malta conferences.”

    Every 2 years since 2003, the Malta conferences have provided an opportunity “to identify unique opportunities for collaboration to meet the scientific and technological challenges of the region.” The Malta IX Conference, which was held at the end of 2019 under the theme “Frontiers of Science: Innovation, Research, and Education in the Middle East,” was no different. The event gathered together scientists, entrepreneurs, postdocs, and students from 15 countries or regions from the Middle East, plus Morocco and Pakistan. These scientists participated in talks and workshops with several Nobel laureates to seek solutions to problems beyond geopolitics that this part of the world faces. To date, more than 700 Middle Eastern scientists and 16 Nobel laureates are in the Malta conferences network.

    A challenge that has been a constant since the Malta conferences were launched is securing visas for participants. Although the preparations for the event started 2 years in advance, several participants from Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Gaza, Palestine, and Pakistan had still not received their visas 48 h before the conference was set to start. With the help of the Maltese minister for education and employment—and the organizers, who endured many sleepless nights—the authorities at the last minute agreed to issue visas to the scientists upon their landing in Malta.

    Malta IX had a makeover. Organizers implemented a new structure for the workshops to create more meaningful change for the region so that the issues of water scarcity, air pollution, environmental degradation, and more can be addressed more effectively. All the workshops were interactive and cochaired by a chemist and an entrepreneur to promote new ideas and pave the way for new start-ups. The Middle Eastern participants presented their research in a guided poster session, which preceded the workshops. The topics included medicinal chemistry; biotechnology; nanoscience; chemical, biological, and nuclear security; energy and materials; and more.

    Representatives from different funding agencies from around the world attended the workshops and discussed the possibility of financial support for several projects.

    At Malta IX, efforts to include more women from the Middle East paid off: 35% of the participants were women, which is good for a science gathering in general and for the Middle East in particular. A special forum to promote women in science in the Middle East and encourage young girls to pursue careers in science was held every lunchtime throughout the conference. Diversity efforts during Malta IX also meant that the number of young people was especially high, as the American Chemical Society subsidized the cost of attendance at the conference for 15 young people from the Middle East.

    The participants of Malta IX had an opportunity to network at events hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the British High Commission in Malta, and the Malta Council for Science and Technology, which sponsored the closing ceremony at the science museum.

    In his speech at the opening ceremony, George Vella, president of Malta, said: “It is heartening to see representatives from so many countries from the Middle East, including Nobel laureates, coming together to discuss ways forward and cooperation in science for the well-being of the people of the region and beyond.”

    For more information see:
    https://www.maltaconferencesfoundation. org/news

    Views expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ACS or C&EN.


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    Safety First Minute

    Chemical Exposure — A Special Case

    When we think of chemical toxicity and how a chemical can hurt us, we generally focus on three primary routes of exposure, namely, inhalation, skin absorption, and accidental or incidental ingestion. This month’s Safety First! report addresses a fourth route of exposure that is often neglected when planning safety precautions, personal protective equipment, and other ways to minimize risk. What happens if a chemical is accidentally injected under the skin? Recently, a special report published in ACS Central Science described in graphic detail injuries sustained when a student in a research lab accidentally stabbed himself with an “empty” syringe containing an estimated 100 μL of residual dichloromethane. (CH2Cl2, also known as methylene chloride, is a common organic solvent.) The young, 22-year-old student had just used the syringe to transfer the solvent to a reaction vessel when he inadvertently pricked his finger with the syringe needle.

    Within 10 minutes of subcutaneous exposure to the chemical the skin around the puncture site had turned reddish purple and the discoloration had spread to half the finger. The research professor immediately accompanied the student to a nearby hospital, where a surgeon examining the wound about 1.5 hours after the accident had occurred recommended emergency surgery. The surgeon removed dead tissue, thoroughly cleaned the affected area to prevent necrosis and gangrene, and performed a skin graft. Photos accompanying the article in ACS Central Science, including in the Supporting Information section, show what the injured area looked like after 1–5 days. The pictures may be disturbing, but they are necessary to fully comprehend the seriousness of what happened. In addition to almost losing his finger due to this needle prick with an “empty” syringe, the student suffered debilitating pain and partial loss of nerve function, which lasted for some time. Fortunately, the wound gradually healed, and the student recovered most of the “normal” use of his finger.

    What information is available about the hazards and risks of dichloromethane and other chemicals via injection or subcutaneous exposure? Often, very little! The author of the paper in ACS Central Science reported that the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) he consulted at the time of the accident in 2018 did not contain any information related to this route of chemical exposure for dichloromethane. A very brief Internet search of a current SDS revealed a similar lack of information. According to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)— which describes toxicity hazard classifications for dermal, oral, and inhalation exposure—hazard statements for dermal toxicity (e.g., fatal or toxic in contact with skin) are based exclusively on skin absorption data (LD50 values). Subcutaneous LD50 values, while they are available for many substances as well as different test animals, may not be captured in SDS publications. Even if they are reported, however, the raw data alone may not suffice to communicate the severity of the accompanying risk.

    GHS Safety SystemBased on this report, extreme caution is urged whenever working with syringe needles and cannulas in the laboratory. The only foolproof method of minimizing risk is to remove or eliminate the hazard―always seek alternative methods of transferring reagents before using a syringe. Be aware, however, that subcutaneous exposure to a chemical may also occur inadvertently, such as via cuts or scratches from broken glassware. Always notify a colleague or supervisor of any case of chemical exposure, no matter how minor it may seem at the time.

    Thank you for supporting Safety First! We welcome your participation and feedback!

    ~ Irene Cesa

    If you have an idea, an experience, or knowledge of a safety related matter that could be developed into a Safety First! Minute, please contact Irene at [email protected]


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    Award Winner

    Outreach Volunteer of the Year

    Sherri Rukes
    Chicago Section

    Outreach Volunteer of the Year (VOTY) 2020 awards recognize the immeasurable efforts made by ACS local section volunteers who conduct outreach and teach the public about chemistry. ACS presents awardees with a small gift and a certificate during a meeting or event hosted by the local section. The awardees are also recognized at the annual  ChemLuminary Awards, on social media, and in a special article in  cen.acs2020.

    Sherri Rukes serves as Co-Chair of our high school education committee within the Chicago Section of ACS. This year, she served as primary organizer of our National Chemistry Week activities and created the grandest NCW event that we have witnessed in recent years. We partnered with Northwestern University and ~50 volunteers, mostly from local ACS student chapters, to showcase a wide variety of chemistry demos for the general public. The capstone event for the day was a science demonstration presentation by the famous Lee Marek.

    ACS Honors Volunteers


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    Chicago ACS Finances

    Chicago ACS Finances



    State Fair Finances


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    From the Editor's Desk

    Dear Readers,

    Many of our lives have been turned upside-down by of the tragic outbreak of the Coronavirus across our nation and world. Despite the difficulties we are all facing as a consequence of disruptions to normal life, and possible illness, it seems important to continue the Section’s longstanding tradition of publishing our monthly bulletin.

    For their contributions to this issue I wish to thank Paul Brandt, Irene Cesa, Zafra Lerman and Emma Zajdela,  and Herb Golinkin, as well as Mike Koehler, Andrea Twiss-Brooks and the committees that worked hard on programming and arranging for the April meeting before it was cancelled. Thanks also to everyone who contributed information on upcoming events, contests and opportunities. You are welcome to send contributions for future issues, including “My Favorite Element,” synopses of meeting programs, chemistry quips, archival pieces and so on. I hope you enjoy this issue.

    Early in the last century several other midwestern cities and regions were contributors to the bulletin. Here is a snippet from the April 1922 issue of The Chemical Bulletin that I am including for its humorous (?) intent. The piece is titled “Shall We Change the Name?” and reads as follows: “The Chicago Bulletin has an honorable history. Still, it serves a much wider district than Chicago. We heard (on a recent day at Evanston) so much of that mouth-filling adjective “intersectional” that we are almost prepared to suggest changing the name. Why not call it THE INTERSECTION? — APRIL FOOL.”                                                            

    ~ M.E.S., Editor
    ([email protected])


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    Sponsors of this issue

    IIT Masters Program


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    Community Activities

    Illustrated Poetry Contest Earth Week 2020


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    Calendar of Events


    FRIDAY, MAY 15

    Gibbs Award Banquet for Professor Zhenan Bao

    6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
    Meridian Banquets
    1701 Algonquin Road, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008.  
      Gibbs Award registration ($50 per person)

    PLEASE NOTE:  This event may have to be postponed, depending on the status of the Coronavirus outbreak



    April 19–25

    Chemists Celebrate Earth Week 2020

    “Protecting Our Planet Through Chemistry”

    October 18-24

    National Chemistry Week 2020

    "Sticking With Chemistry"


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    Bulletin Information

    February 2020, Vol. 107, No. 4

    Published by the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society

    Editor: Margaret E. Schott
    [email protected]

    Online version: Josh Kurutz

    Proofreaders: Helen Dickinson, Ken Fivizzani, Rebecca Weiner

    ACS Chicago Section Office
    Address: 1400 Renaissance Drive,
    Suite 312
    Park Ridge, IL 60068  (847) 391-9091
    [email protected] 

    Monthly:  September – June (10 issues)
    Subscription rates: $15 per year

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    Board & Committee Members

    2020 Chicago Section Officers


    Chair Paul Brandt [email protected]
    Chair-Elect Sherri Rukes [email protected]
    Past Chair Tim Marin [email protected] 
    Vice Chair Josh Kurutz [email protected]
    Secretary Tanya Ivushkina [email protected]
    Treasurer Andrea Twiss-Brooks [email protected]


    For additional information, see:


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    Special Message

    ACS Efforts & Resources on COVID-19

    We are in this together!

    Connect and share information, concerns, and solutions about the COVID-19 pandemic with others in the chemistry community:
    ACS Network

    As a leading scientific society and publisher of scientific research and information, ACS is committed to helping combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. Browse ACS's resources and initiatives below and share them with colleagues, friends and family.

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