The November 2020 Chemical Bulletin Print

Next Meeting

109th Willard Gibbs Award Address: 

Prof. Zhenan Bao

K.K. Lee Professor in Chemical Engineering - Stanford University

"Skin-inspired Electronics"

7:00 PM Friday, November 13
virtual Meeting


Skin is the body’s largest organ, and is responsible for the transduction of a vast amount of information. This conformable, stretchable, self-healable and biodegradable material simultaneously collects signals from external stimuli that translate into information such as pressure, pain, and temperature. The development of electronic materials, inspired by the complexity of this organ is a tremendous, unrealized materials challenge. However, the advent of organic-based electronic materials may offer a potential solution to this longstanding problem. In this talk, I will describe the design of organic electronic materials to mimic skin functions. These new materials and new devices enabled a range of new applications in medical devices, robotics and wearable electronics.
Electronic circuit printed on a hand, with a ladybug
Images of stretchable electronic skin.
Image credit: Amir Foudeh, Sihong Liu of Bao Group, Stanford University


  • For pioneering concepts on design, synthesis, processing, and characterization of organic semiconductors.
  • For pioneering molecular design rules for mobility in semiconductors.
  • For developing a method to print large arrays of patterned single crystals as the basis for fabricating practical devices.
  • For pioneering the field of skin-inspired electronics.
  • For important contributions to the engineering of carbon nanomaterials.


• 7:00 - 7:05  Welcome — Paul Brandt, ACS Chicago Section Chair
• 7:05 - 7:30  ACS Award Ceremony
   - "A History of the Willard Gibbs Award" — Paul Brandt, Chicago Section Chair
   - Introduction of Professor Bao — Luping Yu, University of Chicago
   - Presentation of the Gibbs Medal — Luis Echegoyen, President of the
      American Chemical Society
• 7:30 - 8:30  Gibbs Award Lecture by Professor Bao

NB - This meeting was rescheduled from its original May 2020 program slot because of the ongoing pandemic.

For a list of past Gibbs awardees go to:


Register here:
You will receive a link for the Zoom meeting upon submitting your registration.

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

All K-12 Educators can receive Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for attending our Monthly Meetings. Register online with the “CPDU” type ticket


Zhenan Bao is Department Chair and K.K. Lee Professor of Chemical Engineering, and by courtesy, a Professor of Chemistry and a Professor of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University. She is a Senior Fellow of the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy, a Senior Fellow of Stanford Institute of Chemistry and Engineering for Health (ChEM-H), a Member of the Stanford Wu Tsai Neuroscience Institute and a member of the Stanford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Institute

Bao founded the Stanford Wearable Electronics Initiate (eWEAR) in 2016 and serves as the faculty director. She successfully built the initiative that included more than 40 faculty members and more than 15 company affiliated members.

Prior to joining Stanford in 2004, she was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies from 1995-2004. She received her Ph.D in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1995.  She has over 500 refereed publications and over 65 US patents with a Google Scholar H-Index >155. She pioneered a number of molecular design concepts for organic electronic materials. Her work has enabled flexible electronic circuits and displays. In the past ten years, she pioneered the field of skin-inspired organic electronic materials, which resulted in unprecedented performance or functions in medical devices, energy storage and environmental applications.

Bao is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors. She is a Fellow of MRS, ACS, AAAS, SPIE, ACS PMSE and ACS POLY.  She served on the Board of Directors for MRS in 2003-2005 and as an Executive Committee Member for the Polymer Materials Science and Engineering division of the American Chemical Society. She served as a board member for the National Academies Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology 2009-2012.

Bao was selected as Nature’s Ten people who mattered in 2015 as a “Master of Materials” for her work on artificial electronic skin. She was awarded the Gibbs Medal by the Chicago session of ACS in 2020, the Wilhelm Exner Medal by Austrian Federal Minister of Science 2018, ACS Award on Applied Polymer Science 2017, the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in the Physical Sciences 2017, the AICHE Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering in 2014, ACS Carl Marvel Creative Polymer Chemistry Award in 2013, ACS Cope Scholar Award in 2011, she was the recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry Beilby Medal and Prize in 2009, the IUPAC Creativity in Applied Polymer Science Prize in 2008, American Chemical Society Team Innovation Award 2001, R&D 100 Award and R&D Magazine’s Editors Choice of the “Best of the Best” new technology for 2001. She has been selected in 2002 by the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee as one of the twelve “Outstanding Young Woman Scientist who is expected to make a substantial impact in chemistry during this century”. She was also selected by MIT Technology Review magazine in 2003 as one of the top 100 young innovators for this century.

Bao is a co-founder and on the Board of Directors for C3 Nano and PyrAmes, both are silicon-valley venture funded start-ups. She serves as an advising Partner for Fusion Venture Capital.


$0.00 Lecture registration
$0.00 Lecture registration WITH CPDU / PD Credit
$0.00 Individual Donation (flexible amount)
$0.00 Donation to Project SEED (flexible amount)
$0.00 Company Sponsorship (flexible amount)


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Safety First Minute


 - A “Safety First!” Minute -

In this month’s Safety First! Minute, let’s consider the case of common chemicals with uncommon safety issues. Based on our familiarity with many “everyday” chemicals and their properties, we often do not review the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), or even read the product label, for common substances we use routinely, whether in the lab or at home. This familiarity may lead to casual indifference when working with common chemicals.

Borax, a household chemical used with polyvinyl alcohol in a popular outreach activity to make slime, provides a thought-provoking example for this discussion. Borax, or disodium tetraborate decahydrate (commonly written as Na2B4O7 • 10H2O), is responsible for cross-linking long poly-vinyl alcohol chains together to create a hydrogen-bonded network with curious, unique, non-Newtonian fluidic properties. What could be more perfect for introducing children to the wonders of chemistry? Standard directions for making slime call for a 4% solution of borax, which is both a common household (laundry) chemical and a natural product. It’s all too easy, therefore, to use borax without any real thought as to its safety. The SDS for borax, available online from 20 Mule Team Borax, a principal US supplier, includes the signal word “Danger” and lists two GHS hazard statements: H319, Causes serious eye irritation; and H360FD, May damage fertility (and) the unborn child.

Whoa―borax is classified as a reproductive toxin?!? What does that mean? The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has published a comprehensive, detailed, 21-page report of the relevance of the toxicology of boron compounds (including borax) to public health. How should this knowledge inform our decisions regarding the use of borax for making slime? The process of risk assessment for any chemistry activity often comes down to a subjective determination at the end. The following rhetorical questions (and answers) represent my perspective on making slime. Opinions shared are obviously my own.

  • Is the information about the probable health effects of borax disqualifying in terms of using slime for educational purposes or chemistry outreach? No.
  • Should the information be included when carrying out a hazard and risk assessment for this activity? Yes, absolutely! To ignore a known hazard is to ignore “the elephant in the room,” and also goes against the standard advice that is part of any risk assessment process, to read and summarize the SDS. Address the hazard, the degree of risk it poses to participants, and how that risk can be controlled or minimized. (Borax is both a natural product and a household chemical. The reproductive toxicity, which is well documented in animal studies, is due to ingestion. Children do not handle the pure solid to make the solution, they wear goggles and gloves to prevent eye and skin contact, as well as incidental ingestion, and the solution is not volatile, so there is no risk of inhalation exposure.)
  • Should children be allowed to take slime home? (Again, my opinion, and I am well aware of the multitude of slime products that are marketed to the general public as science or chemistry toys.) The risk of exposure in a controlled setting with PPE and other precautions is minimal. On the contrary, the risk of a child at home touching slime, handling it without gloves, tasting or eating it (it happens!), giving the material to a baby, toddler or pet, is no longer minimal. What is the risk of long-term harm? Truly, we have no idea, really, and the risk–benefit ratio is not worth it.

Borax provides a convenient example for this Safety First! Minute about common chemicals with uncommon properties. The larger point, or higher purpose, if you will, is applicable to any person or organization seeking to establish a robust safety culture. “I’ve used this chemical a thousand times, and nothing bad ever happened before” is a common refrain heard in follow-up investigations of chemical accidents. Don’t let it happen to you!

Submitted by Irene Cesa

Have an idea for a Safety First! Minute? Send ideas to Irene at: [email protected]


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Letter from the Chair

It’s that time of year for elections!  Congratulations to the successful nominees (though I don’t know who you are yet as of this writing). 

Most of us have now settled into our new way of operation.  We still kindly ask for you to register for our Dinner Meetings at  This allows us to change the Zoom Meeting link and keep “zoom bombers” at bay.  You should receive a link after registration ($0 cost) and it may be worth pasting this link into your calendar so that you know right where to go when the meeting comes around – I’m not particularly good at remembering where the email is with the link for the 15 different online meetings that I’ve got scheduled for the month. 

If you have missed some of the past online meetings, Milt Levenberg has kindly recorded them and has posted them to our website.  You can find them at  If you missed Dr. Boyd’s talk, Mike Koehler of the Chicago Section labelled him as “The Most Interesting Man in the World”.  If you had heard all that he has done and is doing, you might be convinced of this yourself.  The previous meeting with Dr. Josh Kurutz telling us the history of the Chicago Section was also very entertaining.  Please check it out along with the other talks that we’ve captured for you.  Thank you Milt for all of your work!

I am so looking forward to the November Dinner Meeting where we get to share the Gibbs Medal celebration with Dr. Zhenan Bao of Stanford.  Her research looks fascinating.  As you know we were supposed to celebrate this event in May and it is a shame that we cannot do this in person and have a celebration the way that we normally would.  I would like to thank Margy Levenberg, Anita Mehta, and Sharada Buddha for their work in coming up with the plans for how we will celebrate Dr. Bao.  Although this event is normally black-tie and is our high-end affair for the year, this one comes to you with zero cost so take advantage of it.  I’m sure you’ll be pleased. 

Please remain safe and healthy.

Paul Brandt


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Election Results

The ANNUAL Election of Officers of the Chicago Section American Chemical Society ended on Friday, October 30, 2020. 426 ballots were started as of the noon deadline, of which 405 ballots were cast. The results are as follows.  The newly elected officers begin their terms on January 1.

Chair-Elect:         Mark Cesa     

Vice Chair:          Michael Koehler         

Secretary:           Aleks Baranczak         

Treasurer:          Jason Romero

Directors (6):      Omar Farha, Katherine Gesmundo, Samantha Harvey, Margaret Levenberg, Jana Markley, Oluseye (Kenny) Onajole

Councilors (3):    Paul Brandt, Russ Johnson, Fran Kravitz

Alternate Councilors (3):  Mark Cesa, Sherri Rukes, Becky Sanders


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Brief Updates

Updates from Your ACS Local Section

American Association of Chemistry Teachers

One of the new benefits is that AACT members will have access to all the past issues of ChemMatters. In the future, more and more education (K – 12 education) content will be moved over by ACS to the AACT website. Membership is growing, but it would be nice to get more K–8 teachers, so pass the word about AACT, suggests Sherri Rukes. For more information see:


Russ Johnson reports that the new Section bylaws were approved by membership at the Section’s September general meeting. Documentation for submission to the National ACS Committee on Constitution and Bylaws is being prepared. Russ anticipates that this will be the last action prior to final approval by the ACS Secretary.

Community Activities

Sherri Rukes needs help in spreading the word about the polymer chemistry kits, made possible through an Innovative Project Grant from ACS. Most likely the kits will be out in January. Please let any teacher or scout leader know about them. If you are interested in making videos for this project please contact Sherri at [email protected].

Election Administration

Josh Kurutz and Russ Johnson report that the 2020 Chicago ACS election was conducted online October 2-30 and that the results (see page 4) were obtained within hours of the election’s conclusion.

Mission Vision Diversity

Team members are reviewing submitted examples of existing statements and original suggestions of their own for our Mission, Vision, Diversity, and Sexual Harassment statements. The Team is looking for ideas and language that might be adaptable for our own statements.

2019-2020 Stieglitz Lecture

The lecture, originally scheduled to be given in May, by University of California - Berkeley Professor and 2015 Gibbs Medalist John Hartwig, has been postponed by the University of Chicago until the 2020-2021 academic year, or possibly the next year.


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The American Association of Chemistry Teachers is a professional community by and for K–12 teachers of chemistry. Take advantage of AACT's benefits to connect with peers, discover quality classroom resources, and achieve your professional goals. Membership is open to educators and anyone in the United States and around the world with an interest in K–12 chemistry education. Give your students access to videos, animations, and archived issues of ChemMatters magazine.


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Save the Date - Following Meeting

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2020 – VIRTUAL SECTION MEETING - Dr. Bruce Fouke, professor of geology and microbiology at the University of Illinois, will talk about the science of Yellowstone National Park.

For information on future meetings and events please refer to the Section’s website,, Social Media, and future bulletin issues.


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From the Editor's Desk

Dear Readers,

In light of the ongoing pandemic, our Section’s historian, Dr. Josh Kurutz, encourages members to document your experiences of life and work.  So please think about submitting an essay, article or other contribution for publication in the bulletin.  On that topic, this issue contains a piece about the Spanish flu of 1918 as well as a chart representing the current state of the global pandemic and its dire consequences.  I would be interested in your feedback on the ideas presented in this article.

A publication such as The Chemical Bulletin represents the work of many minds and hands.  For their contributions to this month’s issue I extend my thanks to Paul Brandt, Josh Kurutz, Helen Dickinson, Ken Fivizzani, Sherri Rukes, Andrea Twiss-Brooks and the program team, Tanya Ivushkina and Avrom Litin of our nominations and elections teams, Irene Cesa, Robert Pike, Linus Pauling, Bethany Halford, and the late Marilyn Kouba (see page 6) for her longtime dedication and service to the Section.

Have an idea for a story?   A Favorite Element?   An historical piece?   A poem or story?  Send your concepts or contributions to [email protected] or [email protected].  Thanks for reading and please stay safe.

~~ M. E. S. ~~


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Historical Feature

Condensation of the Willard Gibbs Medal Address, Chicago, June 14, 1946

Modern Structural Chemistry

By Linus Pauling

Structural chemistry—the determination of the structure of chemical substances and the explanation of their properties in terms of structure—is an old science. It goes back to Lucretius in Roman times.  Lomonossov, 200 years ago, was a boldly imaginative thinker whose explanations of properties in terms of moving molecules were very close to the truth. Then came Avogadro, Kekulé, Pasteur, and others, with Gilbert N. Lewis as the last of the great structural chemists of the past.

Modern structural chemistry differs from the older science in being precise—quantitative instead of qualitative. We know now the distance of one atom from another, and the directions of the bonds, and we use this information in discussing not only simple chemical and physical properties but also for calculating entropy, free energy, and equilibrium constants.

The methods of modern structural chemistry are largely physical. They include molecular spectros-copy, diffraction of X-rays and electrons, the measuring of dipole and magnetic moments, etc. They also include interpretation of heat capacity and other thermodynamic quantities, and the application of theory, especially quantum mechanics. Each new method has led to significant additions to our general chemical knowledge. The most recent triumph was the discovery of the structure of penicillin. Many other chemical structures have been determined by these methods.

From time to time new physical techniques are found to be so useful to the organic chemist that they are incorporated by him into his collection of standard procedures and become a part of organic chemistry. This has occurred in recent years with absorption spectroscopy.

The field of application of modern structural chemistry which seems to me have the greatest promise for the future is that of explaining the physiological activity of chemical substances. I believe that usually specific physiological properties are determined not by strong intramolecular forces but by the weak forces—Van der Waal’s forces—hydrogen bonds, and so on—which operate between molecules. Physiological activity seems related to size, shape, and structure of the interacting molecules. Strong evidence has been obtained through study of antibodies, antigens, and haptens.  Study of structure will serve as an effective guide to biological and medical research and will contribute to solution of such practical problems as those presented by cancer and cardiovascular disease.


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Marilyn Jean Kouba, 1929-2000

Marilyn Jean Kouba, 91 years old, resident of Friendship Village, Schaumburg, Illinois, died on October 5, 2020. Marilyn was born in Chicago in 1929 to Clara and Thomas Kouba. She was a woman in the sciences, beginning in the 1950s, when that was a rare thing. She credits her education at The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT, CHEM ’50, M.S. ’63) for her accomplishments. She supported her alma mater and other women in STEM through Delta Zeta.

Kouba taught chemistry and physical science for more than 35 years in the City Colleges of Chicago, including at Harold Washington College. She earned her 50-year membership pin from the American Chemical Society in 2017 and was a longtime, very active member of the Chicago Section of ACS. She also gave time and effort to Alexian Brothers Hospital.

Her spirit of generosity continued at Friendship Village, where she had lived for about a decade. “There are many teachers living here and teachers love to travel more than anything else”, she said. This past summer Kouba and other avid explorers at her residence shared with one another their love for voyages in the first Travel Around the World with Friends exhibit.

According to family members, Marilyn was an incredible mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She was loving, generous, outgoing, independent and intelligent. She was the loving mother of Arthur (Julia) Kathan and Kathryn (Mark) Elston, the adoring grandmother of Miles Kathan, Melanie Kathan, Carolyn (Todd) Burtar and Tyler Elston and the awesome G-gyn of Dillyn and Sawyer Burtar. She will be missed by family and friends alike.


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Sponsors of this issue

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Reach prospective clients in academia, industry and government by advertising in The Chemical Bulletin. For more information call the Section office at (847) 391-9091.


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Special Feature

State of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic  

All data shown is as of Oct 21, 2020
1.13M global total

COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

COVID-19 status - most nations

C&ENews Article from 2018 - Learning from The 1918 Pandemic

CandENews 2018 Halford article on 1918 flu


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From the Archives



Methinks the chemists, in their searches after truth, are not unlike the navigators of Solomon’s Tarshish fleet, who brought home from their long and tedious voyages, not only gold and silver and ivory, but apes and peacocks, too; for so the writing of several (for I say not ALL) of your hermetic philosophers present us, together with divers [sic] substantial and noble experiments, theories, which either like peacock’s feathers make a great show, but are neither solid nor useful; or else like apes, if they have some appearance of being rational, are blemished with some absurdity or other, that when they are attentively considered, make them appear ridiculous.          

Boyle, “The Skeptical Chymist"

Fall, 1920

Copies of our August issue were distributed to all visitors at the [National ACS Meeting] registration desk and were the chief factor in the smooth operation of the complex program of the week. One serious criticism was voiced. Colonel B was heard to say, “The only thing I object to in your infernal Bulletin was that it made no mention of the Monday morning ball game and I found out about it too late to attend.”


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Community Activities

Celebrating Chemistry’s Two Biggest Holidays Differently this Year

This year National Chemistry Week (NCW) and Mole Day looked a bit different.  Chemists all around the Chicagoland area, however, made sure to celebrate.  Our local section did several things to help everyone celebrate National Chemistry Week, an annual celebration of chemistry which builds awareness of the positive impacts chemistry has at all levels, whether it is in schools, at home, locally, nationally or globally.  This year’s theme was “Sticking with Chemistry” – all about adhesives.  Here are some of the activities our section did to help promote the NCW “holiday” —

* The creation of activity bags for teachers to use in their classrooms, whether virtually or in person.  These activities included looking at various strengths of glues, mechanical properties of various adhesives, making an adhesive or even using adhesives to crosslink and change the properties of the polymer.  Because adhesives are classified as polymers, there were also activities to describe the basic nature of polymers.  Some of those activities entailed looking at water-loving (hydrophilic) vs water-fearing (hydrophobic) polymers, creating a model of a polymer using Mardi Gras beads or the “linking monkey” toy, as well as looking at cation exchange to crosslink or for entanglement during polymer formation. 

The Chicago section delivered over 30 kits to K–12 educators.  We even mailed two kits to Brazil!  We still have some kits and would love for other K–12 educators, especially K – 8 educators, to get the kits.  Another free kit will be available at the end of this calendar year or early next year. 

Annual Poetry Contest – The section continues to sponsor the poetry contest for the NCW holiday.  Entries were due by 11:59 EST on October 25th.  The winners will be determined late October / early November.Because many families are still at home, volunteers went around and delivered the ACS National Chemistry Week magazine to neighborhoods, leaving copies at the doors of households.  Over 700 magazines (in English and Spanish) were delivered! 

The outreach committee and the local section are working hard to try to help children of all ages share our passion for chemistry.  In this trying time, we will continue to figure out ways to promote chemistry and help our section’s geographical area.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to the section for a kit or more information.  We are planning to make several videos available on YouTube to demonstrate some easy experiments anyone can do at home, and to connect the chemistry in books with the chemistry all around us.  Please email: [email protected]


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National Chemistry Week

NCW 2020 Poetry Contest Results

On behalf of the NCW poetry contest committee, we would like to THANK everyone that entered this year.  We had over 30 entries.  We appreciate all of your creativity and effort.  Winners were selected based on creativity, chemistry used and explained, and relating chemistry to the theme of National Chemistry Week, which for 2020 was adhesives. 

These are the winning entries for this year’s NCW poetry contest, also known as the Illustrated Poem Contest. (There were no entries for the other K–12 grade categories.) 

Stay tuned for other competitions.  The next poetry contest will take place in the spring for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW) to honor Earth Day in April.

3rd – 5th grade competition
Akshara Kasinathan
4th grader at Barbara B. Rose Elementary School

NCW Poetry contest winner, grade 3-5 category

9th – 12th grade competition
Ammara Iqbal
10th grader at Glenbard South High School

NCW 2020 Poetry Contest Winner, grade 9-12 category

If there were a poetry contest for adults, could they even compete with these prize-winning entries?  Here is a humorous poem from the January 1923 issue of The Chemical Bulletin.


Archimedes, you will note,
Trying once to learn to float,
Lost his specific gravity
And cried “Eureka” in his glee.

Wöhler, at a later date,
Took ammonium cyanate
From a bottle in his path,
Capered joyfully around it,
Cried, “Urea!  I have found it!”

Science is always on the march,
But Wöhler got the hint from Arch.



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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:

The mission of the Chicago Section of the ACS is to advance the chemical sciences and their practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.


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Solution to Last Month’s “Nobelist” Crossword Puzzle. Used with permission from puzzle creator Robert Pike at The College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Solution to 2020-10 crossword puzzle

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Bulletin Information

October 2020, Vol. 107, No. 9

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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