Outreach Volunteers of the Year

Outreach Volunteer of the Year (VOTY) awards recognize the immeasurable efforts made by ACS local section and international chapter 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. The awardees are also recognized at the annual ChemLuminary Awards, on social media, and in a special article in C&EN. Beginning in 2021, CCA will select one VOTY awardee from a local section or international chapter to be named the ACS Global Outreach Volunteer of the Year.

How to recognize a volunteer

Each ACS local section and international chapter can recognize one individual annually for demonstrating extraordinary outreach volunteer service. Chairs receive communications and access to the submission form in mid-October. The deadline for chairs to recognize an awardee is December 15. Volunteers are only eligible to be recognized once every five years.

Congratulations to the 2020 Outreach Volunteers of the Year!

Headshot of Ajay Mallia

2020 ACS National Outreach Volunteer of the Year

Ajay Mallia, Georgia Local Section

Read about Ajay's accomplishments and the other 2020 Outreach Volunteers below.

Awardees' individual profiles are alphabetized by local section.


Steven Murphy

Steven Murphy has been instrumental in bringing our section into the 21st Century. As a new local section member, he spearheaded the migration of the Binghamton Local Section website and keeps it up to date advertising upcoming events. Steven has expanded our social media footprint, and regularly posts candid shots of our events on Instagram and Twitter. Steven has been instrumental to our successful implementation of technology to allow remote attendance to our local section meetings. When he is not promoting our events or in class teaching chemistry, Steven helps run our many outreach events in the Binghamton Local Section area.

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Kishori Deshpande

Kishori Deshpande is currently the Outreach Committee Chair had has served as Chair of the Brazosport Local Section. Over the years, her positivity and enthusiasm has made her stand out. She has demonstrated her commitment and passion for the enterprise of ACS by organizing scientific seminars from NASA, hosting ‘TED Talks’ featuring speakers from Dow Chemical, organizing events with Dow’s STEM Ambassadors and other professional organizations, like AIChE and Toastmasters International, for local professionals and students. In 2019 alone, Kishori has spearheaded events at the multiple Libraries connecting with more than 200 kids about invisible inks and the chemistry behind them.

Headshot of Kishori Deshpande

Central Arizona

T. Greg Tucker

T. Greg Tucker's outreach efforts for the Central Arizona Section of the ACS helped bring awareness and multiple activities throughout the membership and state. His efforts include securing a proclamation of the International Year of the Periodic table for the state of Arizona through Governor Doug Ducey, planning events as Co-chair of the Younger Chemists Committee, and working directly with leadership and the Planning Committee throughout the year. Greg is involved in several STEM outreach programs dedicated to increasing access to science education, including the Chief Science Officer mentorship program and real-time STEAM at Phoenix Fan Fusion.


Sherri Rukes

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.

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Michele Mangels

It is my honor to nominate Michele Mangels, BS Chemistry, as the 2020 Outreach Volunteer of the Year award for her over 15 years of service to the Cincinnati Section. Her contributions include leading, organizing, participating, and, as our Section webmaster, promoting events for the community and for Section Meetings. These include, among others, demonstrations at the Museum Center in Cincinnati, National Chemistry Week, other Scientific Societies, Earth Week, Section Awards Night demonstrations particularly for the students and their families and teachers, and the Section September Picnic where she demonstrates for our members, associated student groups, and families.

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Amit Sharma

Amit Sharma is an active member of the Dayton Section, and has served as the outreach coordinator for chemistry exhibits during annual Techfest events for many years. The Affiliate Societies Council of Dayton sponsors Techfest for the promotion of science and technology to benefit families and children in the Miami Valley. With over 2,000 student attendees each year and total attendance estimated at over 4,000, this is the largest outreach event in the Dayton area. This award recognizes Amit's passion and leadership to coordinate numerous volunteers and chemistry experiments during this two-day event.

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Susan White

Susan White is nominated for two exciting new events in 2019; she developed a new annual outreach event directed at a Detroit Middle school, and she supervised the building of the World's Largest Periodic Table to celebrate Mole Day and 150th International Year of the Periodic Table. The school event brought together 50 volunteers and the periodic table brought together 150 volunteers. Sue also pulled together funding sources for these events. She received a large amount of support from the Detroit Local Section of the ACS as well as five Detroit-local ACS chemistry clubs, chemistry departments, and private donors.


Weslene Tallmadge

Weslene Tallmadge has successfully served in several leadership roles within the Erie Section, most recently as chair. She has shared her time and talents with the community through participation in outreach at our local mall for NCW, children’s museum, and with other organizations that serve local youth. Her service as coordinator of CCEW has reinvigorated the Sections efforts that now includes participation in a local Earth Day festival at which Section distributes free plants to attendees. Dr. Tallmadge is an outstanding chemical educator whose outreach efforts have helped the Section advance the knowledge of chemistry in our community.

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National Winner – 2020 ACS Outreach Volunteer of the Year


Ajay Mallia

Ajay Mallia has held various leadership positions in the section, including: Chair succession, CCEW Coordinator, Project SEED Coordinator, Herty Medalist Undergraduate Research Symposium Chair, and facilitates the annual ACS-GA Research Symposium. As CCEW Coordinator, Ajay successfully organizes weeklong outreach activities at museums, high schools, and academic institution that had over 1,000 attendees for 2019. Ajay held roles in the ACS Project SEED National committee and serves as a certified facilitator for the ACS Leadership Development System, an AACT Science Coach, and a You Be the Chemist Challenge Coordinator. Ajay is always the first to volunteer at various local outreach activities!

Greater Houston

Catherine Faler

Catherine Faler has held various elected positions, including Chair of Greater Houston Section (GHS). Catherine has been actively involved in the Local Section’s outreach efforts for several years. Many of these events promote Chemistry and STEM to young kids like Education Rainbow Challenge (ERC). Catherine has dedicated her time and effort in celebrating the IYPT all year long in 2019; she has organized several events that actively engaged all ages of children, teachers, and the general public.

Headshot of Catherine Faler

Illinois Heartland

Michael Appell

Michael Appell is a dedicated advocate for ACS in the Illinois Heartland, and he has led several outreach activities in our section. Through the support of ACS mini-grants, Dr. Appell ran public chemistry demos highlighting the importance of lab safety and organized social events that celebrate the continued contributions of senior chemists to our profession and communities. Dr. Appell served the Local Section in a variety of roles, including the section chair and website coordinator. Dr. Appell co-founded the Illinois Heartland Research symposium to provide a forum for scientists to network locally.


Katherine Stickney

Katherine Stickney has been very involved with our section's activities for a very long time. She has been our awards chair for fourteen years. In this role she has planned our annual ceremony to recognize both community and section members. She has also been a significant contributor in the planning and execution of many of our other events like our popular annual Chemistry and Art series.

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Jonathon Mauser

Jonathon (Jon) Mauser of Winona State University deserves recognition for his various outreach activities, which includes service to the La Crosse-Winona Local Section, his university, and his community. Whenever a task requires completion, Jon is the first to volunteer. He serves as advisor for his university's ACS undergraduate affiliate. In this role, he helped organize a highly successful Pumpkin Drop during National Chemistry Week. Over 600 people attended the event during a two hour span. This is a fantastic way to bring chemistry to the public. For these reasons, Jon should be honored.

Lehigh Valley

Nigel Sanders

Nigel Sanders has been very involved in building strong relationships with many community organizations and institutions including the Section’s long-standing partnership with the Da Vinci Science Center. This year, Nigel was instrumental in organizing the kickoff event for National Chemistry Week and ensuring it went on without a hitch. Nigel worked diligently to submit an application on behalf of the Section for an Innovative Project Grant to support a Young Inventors Lab Program for community middle school students. The Section is grateful to have Nigel as a member and his continued participation in outreach and other section volunteer opportunities.

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Dimi Katsoulis

As the 2019 CERM Chair, Dimi Katsoulis enabled a world-class meeting with three strategic pillars: technical, educational, and community outreach. Dimi’s leadership enabled unique, exciting, multi-faceted community outreach, public participation in learning, celebrated chemistry in everyday life, and nurtured the interest and promotion of the value of science. As a part of CERM 2019, approximately 2,000 students performed water quality testing in the inaugural “H2OQ Citizen Scientist Experiment”, about 3,000 people attended presentations by Astronaut Scott Kelly, a museum exhibit celebrated the “Chemistry of Art”, and “Chemistry Night” was hosted at a Minor League Baseball game including university STEM recruiting and hands-on demonstrations.

Headshot of Dimi Katsoulis


Linda Nanko-Yeager

Linda Nanko-Yeager has been one of the most active and loyal volunteers for our section since she started to volunteer for the Section’s Chemists-in-the-Library program in 2005. This program visits local community libraries in the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul area, with a special focus on underserved communities. The program is free to the libraries and the children for whom the program is designed. Since 2005, Linda has attended 123 (!) Chemists-in-the-Library events, at which she helps K-6 kids experience the fun and excitement of chemistry with hands-on activities. Linda has also extensively volunteered for the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Headshot of Linda Nanko-Yeager

Mojave Desert

Jessica Cash

Jessica Cash led the Mojave Desert Section's community outreach activities this year. She organized and coordinated chemistry demonstrations during the Science Day at Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest, CA. Dr. Cash not only developed the curriculum for the demonstrations during Science Day, but also on other occasions volunteered her time to perform experiments with the local grammar school students to excite them about chemistry. Her enthusiasm has encouraged countless young scientists. The Mojave Desert Section would like to nominate Dr. Cash as its volunteer of the year for all of her hard work.

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New Haven

Jane Snell Copes

Jane Snell Copes joined the New Haven Local Section in 2018, and she has been instrumental in reviving the Local Section's outreach program. She is an inorganic chemist with many years of ACS service and outreach. Jane serves as our section’s Special Events Coordinator, which includes Earth Day and National Chemistry Week celebrations. She has been involved with NCW since 1989, and has brought that experience to our section through events at libraries, schools, and museums. Combined, she organized 18 events with 200 volunteer hours, where we have reached over 800 people for our section in 2019.

Headshot of Jane Snell Copes

New York

Paul Sideris

Paul Sideris has served as a Co-Chair on the New York Section’s Student Activities Committee, responsible for organizing the NY Undergraduate Research Symposium (2013-2019). Since 2013, he has been involved in organizing the Annual Long Island ACS Chemistry Challenge, which invites student teams from local colleges and universities to participate in a quiz-style competition. He has performed chemistry demos for the National Chemistry Week celebration every year since 2012. Most recently, he was a Co-Chair of the NYLS IYPT Committee, responsible for constructing a giant 3D Periodic Table comprised of 118 elements designs by various local students and scientists.

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North Carolina

Steven Pruskin

Steven Pruskin has served the past three years as the primary point person for the Festival for the Eno, which is the section’s primary educational outreach activity during the summer months. Steve volunteered to lead the event, through spearheading the booth, recruiting folks, and designing and engaging slate of educational activities to get the visitors coming back to the booth every year. In addition to the Eno Booth, Steve has been a very engaged member for the Local Section, attending the annual meetings and participating at other outreach activities including the National Chemistry Week activities.

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Northeast Tennessee

Deborah Wilkinson

Deborah Wilkinson has served as Chemists Celebrate Earth Week Coordinator for the Northeast Tennessee Section for 8 years. Over 600 local Girl Scouts ages 5-13 have participated in ACS theme-based hands-on chemistry demonstrations. She has also planned and executed hands-on demos for the Local Section’s National Chemistry Week 4th Grader event since 2010. As part of the planning for both events, she actively recruits volunteers from area high school, university and college chemistry/science clubs, and provides opportunities for budding chemists to plan and run demonstrations in an outreach environment.

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Northeast Wisconsin

Patricia Hallquist

Patricia Hallquist has been an integral part of our community outreach activities over the last few years. Her willingness to serve our community through science outreach activities has given many children and families opportunities to learn more about science. Pat is continually staying aware of what things are available for our section to participate in and it has helped our section participate in many great events. Pat has also served as our secretary and does an excellent job of keeping all of our members aware of our local section activities and keeping the executive committee informed.

Headshot of Patricia Hallquist


Raymond Lam

Raymond Lam is currently an associate professor in mathematics and science at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Ray is chair of the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (NESACS) committee for National Chemistry Week. Dr. Lam has been organizing NCW activities for the section for the past several years. Multiple events are held annually at both the Museum of Science and the Boston Children's museum. Dr. Lam has also been instrumental in having NCW officially proclaimed by Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts.

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Northern New York

Erica Sharpe

Erica Sharpe is an active member and enthusiastic contributor to our local ACS section outreach events. She was awarded an Innovative Project Grant in 2016 for a symposium highlighting natural medicines, and has since continued to host and promote this event as an annual function in the North Country. This outreach event offers specialized lectures and hands-on chemistry-related activities on natural medicine and antioxidants. The overall goal is to engage students and the local community and broaden perspectives on health and wellness, while sparking important research ideas and discussions amongst scientists, scholars, and healthcare providers in attendance.

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Orange County

Rabin Lai

Rabin Lai has served the Orange County section in numerous capacities, including Councilor, Chair, and Webmaster. His dedication and commitment to the success of the section has been truly outstanding. Rabin approaches every activity with cheerful enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, and meticulous care. His efforts to develop and maintain our website have been exceptional at a time when electronic communication and on-line information is essential, especially to our younger members and student affiliates. Everyone appreciates his humor, graciousness and kindness toward others in his many capacities.

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Audrey Preston

Audrey Preston served as Outreach Coordinator and organized our National Chemistry Week event at the Orlando Science Center (OSC) in October. She coordinated with OSC staff to plan the event, solicited and trained the dozen volunteers, and designed the seven experiments focused around the theme "Marvelous Metals". The event was able to educate more than 200 public attendees! This is especially impressive because Ms. Preston is an undergraduate student completing her final semester. We have recently recognized her as 2019 Outstanding Volunteer in the Orlando Section, but she is most deserving of recognition at the National level as well!

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Carol Jean Bruner

Carol Jean Bruner has been a valued member of the ACS Philadelphia Section for many years. She has served the Section as Treasurer, Chair, and Chair of the Social Committee. Carol Jean brings warm greetings and a friendly smile to attendees at the Section's monthly. Her tireless efforts to get members to meet and greet has been a strength of the monthly meetings. After serving in high office, Carol Jean decided to use her talents to bring members together and use her enthusiasm to make all welcome!

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Dave Reingold

Starting in October 2016, Dave Reingold has organized an annual undergraduate poster session for students throughout the Portland Local Section. Dave solicits the technical contributions, arranges the venue at Portland State University, invites recruiters from businesses and university graduate programs, solicits food and drink contributions from local vendors, and solicits prize money for one or two cash awards for the best posters in eight different categories. Students profit from talking with experienced chemists and other students about their research and leave contented with food and sometimes a cash prize.

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Kathryn Wagner

Kathryn Wagner has organized the Princeton ACS Section's NCW Activities Night since 2000. Her tasks are to develop hands-on experiments relevant to the theme, recruit and train volunteers, and arrange for the auditorium show. Fostering an appreciation of chemistry and its contributions is a goal for each event. Focus is also on laboratory safety. The event has grown in scope and attendance requests now exceed building capacity. Our NCW Activities Nights received recognition through ChemLuminary Awards in 2009 and 2019 for The Best High School NCW Event Award and in 2013 for Outstanding Community Involvement in NCW.

Headshot of Orlando Jose Morales

Puerto Rico

Orlando José Morales-Martínez

Orlando José has been an ACS leader since his undergraduate career, where he led one of the largest student chapters on the island. After graduating, Orlando joined the Section Board and presided the Membership Committee for several years. Under him, the committee organized several activities focusing on the recruitment and retention of undergrad students and increased the membership of the Section. He also organized several Science Cafés for the Puerto Rico Section. In addition, Orlando coordinated two professional development symposia at the Senior Technical Meeting, offering members the opportunity to identify career opportunities in the industry and law.

Headshot of Orlando Jose Morales

Puget Sound

Carole Berg

Carole Berg has been an active member of the Puget Sound Executive Committee for fifteen years, including being Chair. During that time, she has continuously been a principal liaison with Puget Sound chemists and the general public, hosting the annual 50/60 Awardee Dinner, her annual Holiday Party, and many Section social events such as summer picnics and wine tastings, the Bellevue College Science Day and the Bellevue College Science Fair for high school students. Her tireless outreach volunteer work has enriched our Section with new members and provided a valued conduit for the ACS to the Washington State public.

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Megan Nims

As the 2019 Chair of the Richland Local Section WCC, Megan Nims organized a series of well-attended community events in recognition of Women's History Month, focusing on the local Hanford Nuclear Site. The first event centered on the history of Hanford and why its history is still relevant, led by Dr. Michele Gerber, the Hanford Site Historian. The second event was led by Public radio correspondent Anna King, a journalist whose multi-media effort "Daughters of Hanford" focuses on how women have shaped the history of the Hanford site and the legacy of the Cold War.

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William Miller

William Miller has been the lifeblood of the Sacramento Local Section for many years. He has served as Chair and as Councilor and has been a champion for increasing section awards for students and high school teachers. He has been one of the main organizers of the Section's annual Flavors of Chemistry outreach event and has had a hand in essentially all activities run by the section.

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San Joaquin Valley

Elisabeth Schoenau

Elisabeth Schoenau has done outstanding work over the last few years for the San Joaquin Valley section in promoting chemistry to the public. She has coordinated "Mad Scientist" lab tours for local middle and high school students. These tours have given several classes the opportunity to visit industrial and academic labs and to see some possible careers in chemistry as part of National Chemistry Week. She also coordinated a "Trash Tag" challenge this year for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week, and presented awards to groups that posted before and after pictures of a trash pick-up on our social media accounts.

Headshot of Elisabeth Schoenau

Savannah River

Ashlee Swindle

Ashlee Swindle has gone above and beyond in planning several events and activities for the local community severed by the ACS-SR, as well as providing support to other local efforts made around the CSRA.  She supported local science fair through judging and providing material support, organized a seminar at Augusta University, planned a Science Café discussion with local scientists, established a Crayola Recycling program at local area schools, planned a celebration commemorating the International Year of the Periodic Table at the University of South Carolina Aiken Campus' Living Periodic Table Exhibit, managed the ACS-SR website, and actively contributed to the ACS-SR newsletter.

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Sierra Nevada

Krisztina Voronova

Krisztina Voronova is a Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Reno. In the one and a half years since beginning her position, she has not only founded and coordinated the Discover Chemistry Demonstration Series, but she is also frequently sought by K-12 teachers to perform demonstrations outside of the Demonstration Series. In 2019 alone, she and her team have been able to bring chemistry to nearly 5000 Washoe County students. She also initiated and serves as the current chair of the Outreach Committee in the Department of Chemistry at UNR.

Silicon Valley

Natalie McClure

Natalie McClure is amazing! She is creative, a leader, and a doer with an endless fountain of energy. She created an escape room chemistry game that was played at two local universities. She led an evening of chemistry experiments for Tech Trek, a program for middle school girls designed to keep them interested in STEM. She managed our ACS Project Seed program that helped fund two high school girls doing summer research at Stanford. She spearheaded efforts to be in Palo Alto’s S.T.E.A.M. event. She led our efforts for the Bay Area Science Festival, a large event held in San Francisco.

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South Carolina

Regis Goode

Regis Goode is a true leader of the South Carolina Local Section’s outreach program. Her activities extending over several years include: NCW Coordinator, NCW Illustrated Poem Coordinator, CCEW Illustrated Poem Coordinator, and Soda City Outreach Activities. The last activity saw hundreds of people participate in hands-on activities for all ages. Soda City is open every Saturday morning in Columbia. During NCW, Regis organized participation by the South Carolina Section. Regis has been an advocate for chemical education for decades including being named as an ACS Fellow in 2017.

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Matthew Crowe

Matthew Crowe is currently at Ingredion Incorporated as a Business Scientist. At his previous workplace, Dow Chemical, he worked on diversity and inclusion outreach efforts that brought students from the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) to work as Dow summer interns. As an active member of the Trenton ACS (director, chair, councilor, and scholarship fund), Matt has organized a large number of outreach events, including a national webinar “The Chemistry of Motorcycles and Cars”, Chemagination, a Food Chemistry Career Panel, and the first ever Chemical Safety Video Contest and Awards Ceremony.

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Michael Hunnicutt

The Virginia Section recognizes Michael Hunnicutt, Project SEED Committee Chair, for his outstanding commitment and service to the Section. As an assistant professor of chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Hunnicutt led the first ever ACS Project SEED Program in Virginia in 2017. His efforts over the past three years have resulted in 15 local high school students participating in the program. Students conducted graduate level research, participated in enrichment activities, and were able to get exposure to the college experience. Pertinent to his extraordinary leadership efforts, more Virginia Colleges and Universities are leading their own programs.

Headshot of Michael Hunnicutt

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