The May 2020 Chemical Bulletin Print

Next Meeting


Public Affairs Meeting

7:00-8:00 PM, Friday, may 15

U.S. Congressman Sean Casten

6th Congressional District of Illinois 
Member of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology 

"An Evening with Representative Casten"

U.S. Congressman Sean Casten

Zoom meeting link will be provided on the meeting web page before the event:


Congressman Sean Casten is a member of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, the Science, Space and Technology Committee (logo on page 12), and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and most importantly a scientist and engineer. His strong background and experience in science bring a fresh perspective to Congress on issues related to research funding and public policy related to energy and the environment. The Congressman will briefly present the status of public policy related to science, the environment, and research funding. Following his initial presentation, the Congressman will participate in a town hall style forum, allowing participants to ask questions related to public policy for science and the environment.

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


U.S. Congressman Sean Casten represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, located in suburbs west of Chicago, and is serving as a freshman in the 116th Congress. As a scientist, clean energy entrepreneur, author, and now as a Member of Congress, Rep. Casten has dedicated his life to fighting climate change. In Congress, he currently serves on the House Financial Services Committee, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and is a Co-Chair on the New Dems Climate Change Task Force. 
Rep. Casten earned a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Middlebury College in 1993, and then worked for two years as a scientist at the Tufts University School of Medicine in a laboratory investigating dietary impacts on colon and breast cancer. In 1998, he earned a Master of Engineering Management and a Master of Science in Biochemical Engineering from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. While at Dartmouth, he did fundamental research in thermophilic fermentation technology to produce cellulosic ethanol and engineering analyses of integrated ethanol, heat and power plants.  
Rep. Casten worked as a clean energy consultant and manager at Arthur D. Little from 1997 to 2000. From 2000 to 2006, he served as the president and CEO of Turbosteam Corporation, which focused on utilizing energy recycling technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by generating heat and power from previously wasted energy. In 2006, Rep. Casten co-founded Recycled Energy Development (RED), which focused on recycling wasted energy and converting energy facilities to cleaner, more economic uses. RED built, owned, and operated industrially-sited waste energy recovery plants throughout North America. RED was sold to Ironclad Energy Partners in 2016. 
Rep. Casten was a founding chairman of the Northeast Clean Heat and Power Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy organization with a mission to advance policies that favor energy efficiency in the Northeast United States. He was a lead negotiator on the Massachusetts Interconnection Standard for the state’s electric grid and participated in multiple utility rate cases. For his advocacy of clean energy policies and technology, Casten was named to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Emerging Leaders Class of 2011. Rep. Casten has authored a number of articles on clean energy technologies and the United States electricity grid, as well as energy policy and regulation. While working in Washington Rep. Casten is also committed to keeping in close contact with his constituents, believing in the benefit of hearing the views and ideas of all of the people he represents. Congressman Casten and his wife Kara live in Downers Grove with their two daughters.
Logo of U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology logo of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology 


$0.00 MAIN SITE - Lecture only registration
$0.00 Company Sponsorship (flexible amount)
$0.00 Individual Donation (flexible amount)
$0.00 Donation to Project SEED (flexible amount)
$15.00 T-shirt: CHICAgO Elements
$10.00 Tote bag: CHICAgO elements - blue

The Chicago Section Gibbs Award Banquet originally scheduled for May 15, 2020 IS POSTPONED because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Updates will be provided on the meeting page:


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Save the Date - Following Meeting

Chicago ACS Section Virtual Meeting

FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2020, 7 – 8 pm

Dr. Dwight Chasar, ACS Fellow



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Special Contribution

Message from ACS President Luis Echegoyen 

Hello. I am joining you virtually today in what has become standard practice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. So much has happened in the past couple of months and I want to let you know that I, and my ACS colleagues, are here to support you in these unprecedented times. 

In early March, we made the difficult, but unavoidable, decision to cancel our spring national meeting. This was undoubtedly the responsible call to ensure the safety of you, our members, our staff and the surrounding community. Since that time, several upcoming regional ACS meetings have also been cancelled and nearly all of us have transitioned to working from home.  

For those in academia like myself, COVID-19 also means learning to teach virtually and dealing with the challenges of understanding how to do that effectively. It also means developing a plan to keep our research groups active even when we have no laboratory access. It is truly a new world that requires us to be flexible but mostly very creative. 

Please know that ACS is here to continue to support and guide the community as we navigate these challenging issues. We have sent a letter to Congress with recommendations for ensuring the security and sustainability of the chemistry research enterprise and workforce during this difficult time. Among the specific areas that we are advocating for are increased investment in research grants, further expansion of loans for small businesses, and support for students and teachers as they adapt to online and distance learning. 

In addition, we have resources for educators and families to use to provide instruction to students while staying at home. We are also opening access to COVID-19 research published in ACS journals and related resources and tools from CAS to help researchers evaluate vaccine developments and other means to defeat the virus.  

There are also videos to address issues related to COVID-19. These videos are part of our Reactions series and they explain (from a chemistry perspective) things such as why hand washing is important during this time and where we are with respect to vaccine development. 

These resources are discussed in more detail in the story that I co-authored in the April 6 issue of C&EN. I hope that this will also be a resource for you.  

Links to everything I’ve mentioned here are in the video summary section for easy reference. 

In closing, it’s important to know that we are here for you. I understand the severity of this situation and the many personal challenges and loses. For those who are more intimately affected by this pandemic, I am deeply sorry. However, based on history, I know that we will merge from these difficult times. We will get back to normal, but we will undoubtedly be changed forever. I encourage you to remain positive and share with me ways that ACS can support you. I also want to hear about positive stories of how the chemistry enterprise is adapting to, and working, to overcome, this pandemic. You can contact me at [email protected]

Thank you and please continue to practice good hygiene recommendations such as proper hand washing and physical distancing. Please stay safe!  

[This transcription of President Echegoyen’s video-recording was provided by the ACS national office.] 


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Letter from the Chair

By now you have probably settled into your new normal and are looking forward to getting back to the way things used to be. I know that I am. I don’t know that we will ever get there but I am hopeful that we will get some semblance of our recent past. I do believe that more than ever we will find that there are more important things (family, neighbors, our health) than what we may have been focused on in the past.  

I hope that you were able to join us for the April “Dinner Meeting” online. If not, we will try and do the same thing for May. As of this writing, I don’t know if we have a speaker or not but we will do our best to give you some chemistry to talk over and think about and so that we can commune together over some chemistry. Please check the website for details regarding what is coming up. It is updated as we go and I’d like to thank our committees (Brooks Maki, Kenny Onajole, and Jason Romero) for their work with the constant updates that we have been giving them.  

Sherri Rukes, your incoming chair for 2021 and 2020 Outreach Chair, has been busy putting lots of content and opportunities out there for everyone. She could use your help if you find you have the inclination and time for short videos. The teachers could use all sorts of help with online content. You can reach her at [email protected].  

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and productive month of May.  

- Paul Brandt 


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Recent Meeting



This presentation took place online via Zoom from 7–8 pm on Friday, April 24, 2020 with approximately 100 persons in attendance 

Rao Kotamarthi 

Chief Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory,
Environmental Sciences Division 


The talk introduced some basic science principles that are central to understanding climate and the changing climate. Changes in climate that have occurred over the past 100 years and the continuing trends in temperature and precipitation changes will be discussed.  The need for climate models and basic principles of building climate models that are used for projecting climate change for the next 100 years and beyond, the uncertainties involved in the process, will also be presented. We will also discuss projected changes at regional scale and use of these projections for developing adaptation strategies. 

Presenter biosketch:

Dr. Kotamarthi has nearly 30 years of experience in regional- and global-scale modeling of Air Quality and Atmospheric Composition, Data Assimilation, Radiative Transfer and Climate. His work leverages HPC and applied mathematics to develop models for environmental problems. He has authored over ninety journal articles and technical reports. At present, he serves as the Principal Investigator for projects funded by DOE-BER, DOE-EERE and sponsored research from Private entities on topics ranging from regional scale climate modeling to wind energy and Co-Investigator on projects funded by NSF. Most recently, he served as the principal investigator for a multi-laboratory, multi-national aerosol and cloud process measurement field study in the Ganges Valley Region of India. He has contributed to the IPCC assessment report 2 and serves on peer review panels for DOE, NSF and NASA. During his nearly 20 years at Argonne he mentored several post-doctoral fellows and served as committee member for PhD students at University of Chicago and University of Illinois.  Prior to joining Argonne, Dr. Kotamarthi worked as a staff scientist at the Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) Inc., Cambridge, MA and held a Visiting Research Fellowship Position at the Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. While at AER, he worked on NASA funded projects related to the chemistry of the lower stratosphere, upper troposphere and tropospheric oxidants. 


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From the Editor's Desk

Dear Readers,

A number of years ago when I lived in Midland, Michigan, I had a co-worker who was also an actor in the local theater. Following one stage performance, a reviewer commented that “Peter has a marvelously malleable face.” That phrase came to mind again recently as I was thinking about the need to remain flexible — with respect to rescheduling postponed or cancelled meetings, planning out-of-state family visits, etc. — in the face of the continuing pandemic. Indeed, there were a number of late-breaking changes to this bulletin issue. It occurs to me that we are being called upon to put on a marvelously malleable mindset just in order to stay current  … and sane. 

For their contributions to this bulletin issue I wish to thank Barb Moriarty, Josh Kurutz, Russ Kohnken, Sherri Rukes, Representative Sean Casten, Dr. Rao Kotamarthi, Professor Luis Echegoyen, Sidney Harris and (posthumously) P. N. Leech. Thanks also to Mike Koehler for inviting the May program speaker and to the many members working behind the scenes to coordinate the technology for the livestream, as well as for keeping our web communications up-to-date.  

For information on any future events please check the Section’s website. Stay safe!   

~ M.E.S., Editor
([email protected])


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Sponsors of this issue

IIT Masters Program


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Community Activities


This year, on April 22, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day (1970–2020). In conjunction with Earth Day, which is celebrated around the globe, ACS designates an annual event called Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW).

Although this year’s CCEW took place ‘virtually’ from April 19–25, our Section’s main event has been postponed until we can all get together. This year’s theme is “Protecting Our Planet through Chemistry.” In keeping with this theme, the American Chemical Society is focusing on how chemists continue to promote a better world through recycling plastics and making use of cleaner-burning fuels, phosphate-free detergents, environmental monitoring and green chemistry initiatives. Learn more about ACS and the impacts and events of this initiative by going to

Make sure to check out the ACS’s themed Educational Resources where you’ll find content on Earth and how chemistry impacts our planet. There are ideas for all grade levels.

Another event in which ACS takes part is the Illustrated Poem Contest designed for K-12 students (see April issue). The Chicago Section will be participating in the contest and all entries are now due by 11:59 pm on May 3rd. You can find information on the Section’s website or as stated above on the National website. There are four age groups for the contest and the local winners will receive a gift card, as well as being able to move on to the National competition.

Looking ahead, the Chicago Section is teaming up with The Shedd Aquarium and some of the Forest Preserves in our area to host Global clean-up events. These partnerships will hopefully take place sometime in the early fall / late summer (September), depending on the safety recommendations issued by the CDC and Governor Pritzker. We will be helping with the clean-up of the 63rd Street Beach in Chicago. In the future we will be working at Busse Woods in Cook County, the Lake County Forest Preserves and the Lake Shore Restoration Project in Lake County.

Please help the Chicago Section continue to promote and celebrate Earth Week as well as the wonders of everyday chemistry. Let’s celebrate the earth and Chemistry all year long. This year, the Section posted videos on some environmental and Earth-friendly chemical demonstrations, which can be done with things found around the house. In addition, there is a selection of Earth Day inspired elementary book titles. If you would like to video-record yourself reading a short story, poem, etc. about Earth, perform an experiment for kids to watch online, or even make a short tape of yourself explaining about green, sustainable or everyday chemistry (it does not have to be related to Earth Day, check out Chemshorts at Get started by filling out the following form and providing a link to your video. We would like to add to our collection of chemistry-themed videos. If you are interested in volunteering when opportunities arise to help maintain our Earth, please fill out this short survey. If you have any questions please contact Sherri Rukes at [email protected]

Check us out on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and our website and share our celebration of Earth Week together. When sharing on social media, use the following hashtags: 

#ChicagoACS  #CCEW  #EarthDay2020  #GreenChemistry 

- Sherri Rukes 


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Employment and Professional Relations

Career Searching the ACS Way 

As social distancing and stay-at-home orders continue in the face of the coronavirus health crisis, many may find themselves unemployed. The American Chemical Society (ACS) has a number of resources to help us find suitable employment. While the ACS ( / Careers) should be always be your first stop, members of the Chicago Section’s Employment and Professional Relations Committee want to highlight some websites that we have found to be particularly useful. There are other resources available, but the websites listed here should provide a good start.  

Identify your ideal job 

First, it’s important to identify the type of job you want and the type of organization that you are hoping to join. ACS offers market intelligence which includes the ACS Salary Calculator as well as salary and employment trends. In addition, Glassdoor and LinkedIn offer information about different types of employers. And don’t forget about smaller companies and organizations that employ chemists — they are an essential and increasingly important part of the chemistry employment picture. You can gain important insights by looking at any associations to which the organization and/or its employees belong. 

Create a CV or resume 

Second, you will need a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). Basically, a resume is a sales tool, and the product a resume should sell is you. A separate article on the resume itself will be written in the future. The ACS also has Resume Resources. Thanks to the ubiquity of word processors and computers nowadays, a resume or CV plus a cover letter can be tailored to the particular job you are applying for. The resume and cover letter (see below) should use the same keywords that are in the job description. 

Prepare your cover letter 

Unless you personally hand your resume or CV to a prospective employer, a cover letter should accompany your resume or CV. Even today, when some employers do not specifically request it, a cover letter should always be sent, and the letter should follow a generally recommended format. First, your cover letter should be addressed to a specific person. If you don’t know the name of the specific person, do some research in order to identify him or her. When formatting your letter, type the date, address and salutation at the top, followed by four paragraphs. Keep in mind, however, that the cover letter should be of a reasonable length; most cover letters do not exceed one page. The first paragraph explains why you are writing the letter. It should grab the reader’s attention. The second paragraph describes your qualifications and accomplishments. Here is a good place to use the same keywords that are used in the job description. The third paragraph answers the question of why you should be hired. Note that this paragraph may be omitted if you feel you have adequately represented yourself and your qualifications in the second paragraph. Finally, in the fourth and final paragraph, you should ask for an interview, so make sure to include your contact information. Check the internet for websites that offer cover letter templates. 

Get ready for the interview 

An interview is a formal consultation used to evaluate the qualifications and suitability of the prospective employee (you). The interviewer will want you to answer four basic questions: Do you understand the job? Can you do the job? Will you do the job? And will you put his/her job at risk? You should be prepared to address these four questions in your interview.     

In the past, many interviews were face-to-face. Interviews today, however, typically use some mechanism (which may be necessary for social distancing) like Skype or Zoom. Whatever method is used, take the time to prepare for your interview. The ACS website, and many others, offer valuable help with interviews. One website ( offers 20 interview questions and suggestions on how to answer them successfully. Monster ( and Glassdoor ( have sections on interviewing and interview preparation tips. Finally, if you want to practice interviewing, videotape yourself using your phone, or using a webcam. The ACS offers a service for the latter. See:

One of the questions typically asked at an interview is “Do you have any questions for me (us)?” Be prepared to ask more than one question about the organization. Check online for ideas about good questions to ask. One thing you’ll want to ask during an interview is, “What comes next?” Usually you will be told next steps and when you should hear from the organization about the job you are interviewing for.  

Thank your prospective employer 

Finally, you should always send thank-you notes to those that interviewed you. Not only is this good etiquette, but the additional communication also gives you another chance to sell yourself.  

Make use of additional resources  

In addition, don’t forget about ACS webinars. A number of recorded webinars on specific career topics are available to members. 

Your job search plan should also include attendance at local section meetings, in addition to regional and national meetings, as these gatherings provide a number of networking opportunities. In terms of networking, you should create a profile on LinkedIn and establish a presence on other social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and others. You can also use these sites to find out more information about the organizations you are targeting. 

- Barb Moriarty,
Employment and Professional Relations Committee 

Logo - ACS Career Services

ACS Career Resources  

The ACS (and the Chicago local section) offers a number of resources to help you find a rewarding career. Some of the career services offered by the ACS include: 

  1. ACS Career Fairs – ACS members can participate in career fairs at National meetings.
  2. ACS Career Pathway Workshops
  3. ACS Personal Career Consultants – In the Chicago area, we are lucky to have a number of ACS Career Consultants who can assist you with personalized consulting, wherever you find yourself in your career.
  4. Resume and Cover Letter Resources
  5. Interview Strategies
  6. Negotiation Skills
  7. Ethical and Professional Guidelines


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Special Event

Navigating your Science Career


Tea with CLP - Career Discussion - POSTPONED

CLP Tea - Science Career Panelists

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Chemistry Olympiad

Results of the Chicago-area Olympiad Exam 

The local Chemistry Olympiad exam took place online on Sunday, April 19, 2020. We had over 190 students nominated from 44 schools, and 104 students ultimately participated.  Here are the names of 19 students who qualified to take Part I of the national exam. The underlines names with their teachers’ names are the 7 students who qualified to take Part II of the national exam.

Charles Chen, University of Chicago Laboratory School
Justin Chen, Stevenson (Christina Higgins, teacher)
William Fu, Neuqua Valley
Izzy Huang, Glenbrook South
Judson Lam, Naperville North (Elizabeth Brucker, teacher)
Jonathan Lei, Neuqua Valley (Patti Symkal, teacher)
Eric Liu, New Trier (William Loris, teacher)
Evan Liu, Naperville Central
Vivek Nair, William Fremd
Calvin Osborne, Lake Forest Academy
Nikhil Patel, Libertyville
Dmitri Shvdykoy, Hinsdale Central
Steven Sun, University of Chicago Laboratory School
Karthik Srinivasan, New Trier
Andy Tang, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (John Thurmond, teacher)
Henry Wang, James B Conant
Rick Wang, Stevenson (Christina Higgins, teacher)
Geoffrey Wu, Naperville North (Christina Brucker, teacher)
Alex Yuan, Oak Park and River Forest

In addition, Alan Ding of Stevenson qualifies because he participated in last year’s national Olympiad camp.

All students should be honored that they were chosen by their teachers to take part and proud that they put in the effort and time to participate.  Congratulations to all!

- Russ Konken,
Chicago Section High School Education Co-Chair 


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Historical Feature

In this article from our 1920 Bulletin archives, the writer critiques the practice of testing chlorine gas on human subjects as part of a wider search for a panacea.  Section Historian Josh Kurutz comments on this article in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.  

“What’s the harm?”
A Historical Perspective 

Faced with a seemingly unstoppable virus sweeping the world in 2020, one wonders how chemists responded a hundred years ago when facing the “Spanish” Flu of 1918.1 The October 1920 issue of The Chemical Bulletin offers some insight with an article by Chicago ACS member P. N. Leech, “Chlorine Inhalations and Influenza”.2 

Today, people are desperately seeking compounds that might cure or prevent COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, for example, gathered considerable attention and got a rare Emergency Use Authorization from FDA on March 28, though evidence supporting their application to coronavirus was weak.3 (FDA has since issued a warning against their use.4) Incredibly, injecting or inhaling household disinfectants have even been proposed.5 

Some public figures cry “desperate times call for desperate measures”, and are tempted to abandon good practices of drug discovery – the ones that demand demonstrations of safety and efficacy before being used. “What’s the harm? Just try it!” is an understandable plea we hear. 

“Try it. It can do no harm.” was actually an argument used in 1920 to support testing the exposure of humans to poisonous chlorine gas (Cl2) to prevent influenza infection.6 One would have hoped that the advances in chemistry, medicine, virology, and other sciences made in the last hundred years would be respected in 2020, but contrary forces unfortunately appear to be capturing some of today’s public attention.  

Granted, the context was different then. Chemical weapons were used in WWI, and the U.S. had established its Chemical Warfare Service in 1918.7 Many facilities were producing chlorine gas for warfare, and some anecdotal reports suggested workers at these plants contracted influenza at reduced rates. A subsequent human trial testing the ability of chlorine gas to prevent infection, involving almost 200 college students, revealed effectively nothing of value, but proponents continued to advocate for its prophylactic effect.8 

Today’s pressures to develop a cure or preventative agent for COVID-19 are enormous. Public health depends on speedy action. Money is to be made in treatment. Fame and political favor may be bestowed upon people, companies, and other entities responsible for saving lives. The desire to cut corners so the problem can be solved quickly are strong. Yet the lessons of history teach us that successful delivery of cures, vaccines, and other therapies can only effectively come about through careful, diligent scientific work. 

Leech’s 1920 conclusion is perfectly apt today: 

“It is the chemists’ privilege, as it is the privilege of other scientists, to aid public health whenever possible, but in so doing care and judgement should be exercised in order to retain the confidence of other workers in the humanitarian sciences. … From the very nature of [their] profession, the chemist should be the model of logic.” 

 - Josh Kurutz, Section Historian 

  1. The influenza pandemic known as “Spanish Flu” lasted from 1918 through 1920, and its geographic origins are in dispute.  
  2. The Chemical Bulletin, p.279 (1920);  
  6. Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, v.12 p.293 (1920) 
  8. Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry,12 p.806 (1920) 

A chart of influenza deaths in the 1918-19 flu pandemic shows weekly accumulation of deaths from all causes above the norm for Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lowell, Chicago, New York, Denver and Milwaukee. National Museum of Health and Medicine (public domain). 


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(see April issue)


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Special Feature

License Plate Chemistry

  • Northwestern’s Professor Rick Silverman has a sports-car with the license plate AGMAN
  • A medical doctor in Washington state spotted the chemical formula for amphetamine, C9H13N
  • A Chicago-area golf nut’s plate spells out IX FE, meaning nine-iron
  • An industrial hygiene lab manager had the vanity plate PB2AU
  • An ACS science policy fellow in Washington, D.C., spotted the license plate PANDNH4, or "Pandemonium," on the streets of Ann Arbor, MI
  • A C&EN reader in Akron, OH reported a Pennsylvania vanity license plate with “HI YO AG"
  • A scientist had on his wife's minivan C6H12O6 because he called her 'sweetie.' At present, he has the following on two cars: ZNO and 6.022E23. Why? I market and sell zinc oxide for my present employer, he says.
  • A pair of chemists from Knoxville, TN sighted plates with FE2O3, FEMAN, and AUDGR

Thanks in part to Bethany Halford’s Newscripts column in Chemical & Engineering News (Oct 24, 2005)

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Bulletin Information

February 2020, Vol. 107, No. 5

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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