Congratulations to the 2019 awardees!

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Read awardees' individual profiles below, alphabetized by local section.



Toshia Wrenn

Toshia Wrenn has been an outstanding advocate for ACS and has performed significant outreach in the local community. In 2018, she was the local section coordinator for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week, which administered a well-attended poetry competition. She helped organize STEM Day chemistry magic shows, served as the ACS student chapter faculty advisor, held lab coat tie-die events, and performed chemistry outreach with the Girl Scouts of America. She is a kind, selfless person. We in Alaska really appreciate Toshia's contributions.

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Maya West

Maya West has been an enthusiastic organizer as well as participant in outreach activities for schools and the community during her entire graduate career. As this year's outreach chair for the Auburn Younger Chemists Committee, she organized demonstrations for high school students for National Chemistry Week and a presentation for the local section's annual Chemistry Tailgate. She has also been active with the Association of Women in Science and the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, helping with outreach and career networking.

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Vincent Van Nostrand

Vincent Van Nostrand is very active in serving the ACS Binghamton Local Section. He has volunteered for every single event of the local section in 2018. Through his role as the coordinator of volunteers, Vince is actively involved in recruiting new members for the local section. He has organized and helped train volunteers for all the outreach events. Vince also served as the webmaster and kept the local section communicating well with its members and the community.

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Kaoru Aou

For several years, Kaoru Aou has performed hands-on chemistry demonstrations at schools and public events with the BLS. He has been the key link between the Brazosport Local Section and the Dow STEM Ambassadors program, which delivered improved public STEM outreach. Kaoru has actively raised funds to support the Section’s outreach program, ensuring that we have the necessary supplies and that they are stored safely and securely. For over a decade, Kaoru has been the treasurer of the Section, managing the budget, preparing reports, and providing timely reimbursements expenses.

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James Postma

James Postma, Professor of Chemistry at California State University, Chico, is the 2018 California Section's Walter Petersen Award recipient for Outstanding Service to the local section. He is Chair of the Northern California Subsection and keeps providing a lively connection, in the form of field trips, seminars, lectures, or family science nights, between the subsection and the main California Section. As a most dedicated section member, he has twice been chair of the California Section, and has again been elected as the 2019 chair-elect.

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Central Arizona

Christina Forbes

Christina Forbes was essential in forming and leading a Younger Chemists Committee as part of the local section where she increased engagement and leadership activity of the section. She planned and participated in public outreach events for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week and National Chemistry Week. Additionally, she helped promote the local section and its activities online and through social media.

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Central Wisconsin

Kathryn McGarry

Kathryn McGarry mentors the ACS student affiliate group and facilitates their outreach efforts to the community. She is currently chair-elect of the Central Wisconsin Section. She attended the ACS Leadership Institute, which led her to receiving a mini-grant that brought a seminar speaker to University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in October 2018. Dr. McGarry also applied for and received a National Informal STEM Education Network Explore Science: Let’s Do Chemistry Kit. This resource has already been used at two outreach events.

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Chemical Society of Washington

Ivana Brekalo

Ivana Brekalo, a Ph.D. candidate, has been very active with local section outreach. This year, she volunteered during National Chemistry Week, the USA Science and Engineering Festival, and the Unidos US Latino Family Expo. She also volunteered at Science Night at Hardy Middle School. Ivana has served as vice president of the Georgetown Student Organization of Chemists, and a member of Georgetown's Graduate Student Symposium Planning Committee. She organized a symposium on water sustainability at the 2017 Spring National ACS Meeting. Ivana hopes her passion for research, science communication, and outreach will translate one day into a successful career in academia.

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Fran Kravitz

Fran Kravitz is a founding and continuing organizer of the section’s Illinois State Fair project. She started and continues to lead projects for local Boy and Girl Scouts to earn merit badges for work in chemistry. Fran is a major contributor and motivator in our streaming program meetings to remote sites, enabling both members and non-members to attend the presentations at these meetings.

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Connie Gabel

Connie Gabel has been the key outreach member of the Colorado local section bringing ACS activities to the broader community for a decade. She led National Chemistry Week for 12 years and has been Coordinator of Chemist Celebrate Earth Week for 6 years. Connie hosts the annual awards banquet for outstanding high school students. She received the Colorado Local Section Outreach Volunteer Award and Ann the Nalley Rocky Mountain Region Award for Volunteer Service, 2017. Connie was Program Chair in 2012 and leader in 2017 for Rocky Mountain Regional Meetings, and planning for ACS 2015 National Meeting in Denver.

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Jeffrey Trent

Jeffrey Trent has been leading Columbus Section community outreach activities for number of years now. He has single handedly organized Chemists Celebrate Earth Week and National Chemistry Week events for the community during this time. He works diligently to arrange chemistry demonstrations for kids and youths in the community to create awareness of science. His dedication and enthusiasm has encouraged several young chemists to participate and broaden our community outreach efforts. This award recognized Jeff's leadership and commitment to science outreach activities for the community.

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Melinda Greer

Melinda Greer is an active member of the Dayton Section and has been a dedicated organizer and coordinator of the National Chemistry Week for many years. The events that she holds every year attract many children from the Dayton area to the Boonshoft museum and the Centerville library where they can learn about chemistry and participate in hands-on experiments. The Dayton section is delighted to nominate Dr. Greer as its volunteer of the year in recognition of her outstanding outreach efforts.

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Mark Benvenuto

Mark Benvenuto provided steady leadership to lead a wonderful and successful 2017 Central Regional Meeting. Mark worked tirelessly on top of all his other obligations to plan, and execute this major event over a 2-year period. Mark has also worked with other sections to help facilitate their regional meetings. He took over several duties in the section when some of our officers were relocating and traveling on business.

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East Texas

Mike Sheets

Mike Sheets, the current secretary of the East Texas section, has been active in the leadership of our section for many years. He has held various elected positions—including chair. Mike has also been instrumental in many outreach activities. These include involvement with STEM and National Chemistry Week outreach and activities. He has also organized a grant that was funded which involved the collaboration of the Sulphur River Basin Authority, the Boy Scouts of America, Airgas Corporation, Pleasant Grove High School, and LeTourneau University.

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Eastern New York

Montwaun Young

Montwaun Young is the Chair of our Younger Chemists Committee and a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In June of 2018, he hosted a VR event entitled “The Chemistry of Rocket Propulsion.” He and other students presented a talk about a different aspect of rocket propulsion. Next, he broke out the virtual reality headsets, which were purchased with funds from our recent “Local Section Members Engaging Through Technology” (METT) grant. The group used these headsets to launch, navigate, and land rockets. A highlight of the event was the hands-on bottle rocket building competition among those present.

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Holly Davis

For seventeen years, Holly Davis has been outstanding in Georgia Section leadership roles including Treasurer (2002-2005 & 2015-2019), the Chair succession (2006-2008), and Alternate Councilor (2009-Present). Nationally, she has served on the ACS Committee on Community Activities (CCA) 2012-2018 and was recently appointed CCA Chair for 2019-2021. Outreach has been her major focus. Due to her excellent leadership while Chair, Georgia Section outreach activities tripled. Her commitment to chemistry and outreach continues as the CCA develops ACS-sponsored programs such as National Chemistry Week and Chemists Celebrate Earth Week, among other outreach programs that lead to millions of positive contacts with the public every year.

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Greater Houston

Dawn Friesen

In addition to being Younger Chemists Committee chair and a reliable volunteer at our many events and seminars, Dawn has been the champion of our online outreach efforts. She set up and manages the ACS Greater Houston Section YouTube account from which we can live stream local seminars. The work she has done behind the scenes (release forms, free broadcasting software, digital asset preparation, etc.) has been invaluable in our effective use of technology.

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Kathleen Ogata

Kathleen has been relentless in these last many years keeping the Hawaii Local Section healthy and growing. She volunteers her time selflessly and always is in great spirits. She works patiently with others, is always positive, and is extremely intelligent. It is a pleasure and a blessing to have her on our team.

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Maria Alvim-Gaston

Maria Alvim-Gaston has been actively involved in the Indiana Local Section's outreach events for several years.  Many of these events promote chemistry and STEM to young girls and women.  As chair of the Passport to Hi-Tech programs, she coordinates events for girls ages 7-12 to learn about STEM careers.  She demonstrates leadership and creativity by coordinating community events such as a Chemistry of Cheese, in which she and expert guests shared different types of cheese and wine pairings. Maria readily volunteers her time to ensure the success of local section events, including National Chemistry Week and Celebrate Science Indiana events.

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Amy Mlynarski

Amy Mlynarski is a stalwart for community outreach in ACS Joliet. She regularly organizes events at different schools and community centers, volunteers for science fairs, and research experiences for young scientists. She recently organized a “Science Haunted House” for National Chemistry Week, which required donations of non-perishable foods for entry. The event attracted over 300 people. She is also actively involved with local high schools in a yearlong water filtration/desalination competition, and annually organizes over 10 chemistry demonstrations for ACS Joliet. Altogether, her efforts have allowed ACS Joliet to interact with over 3,000 students within our community over the past 2 years.

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Thomas Runge

Thomas Runge has been a long-term advocate for chemistry, ACS, and our KACS Local Section, within the Kalamazoo community and beyond. He is also a consistent volunteer when KACS participates in local public events such as the annual Kalamazoo Earth Day Celebration. Most recently, Tom has co-lead our successful ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark (NHCL) nomination, and is currently co-leading efforts to put together a local, public NHCL dedication event for May 2019. Tom's outreach volunteer activities have been, and will continue to be, a very important part of the success of the Kalamazoo ACS Local Section.

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Kansas City

Michelle Paquette

Michelle M. Paquette, Ph.D. Chemist and Associate Research Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has coordinated the local ACS Project SEED program since 2015, during which time she has connected numerous financially disadvantaged and largely underrepresented high school students with mentors to pursue summer research internships. She has been involved with the program since 2012, and has hosted five students in her own lab over this time, several for multiple years. Many of these students have described the program as a life-changing experience.

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Benjamin Haenni

Benjamin Haenni is an incredibly selfless and giving individual in his many roles within the La Crosse –Winona Local Section. He is the organizer of our science cafe series, serves as co-advisor for the UW-LaX student affiliates, organizes the Chemistry Olympiad, and does many other scientifically relevant outreach activities every year. For example, he is a volunteer poster judge at local science fairs, and runs the "Chemistry Magic Show" at UW-LaCrosse. He really is the whole package and a great example of excellent outreach by University faculty.

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Chanel Fortier

Chanel Fortier is one of the most active members of the Louisiana Local Section.  She was the Section Chair in 2014, Member-at-Large in 2015-2017, and is currently serving as Secretary. Since 2015, she has served as Chair of the Communities Activities Committee and did a great job with the Section’s outreach activities. In particular, she organizes a Super Science Saturday event every year in celebration of National Chemistry Week. She often organizes an Earth Day celebration, and in 2017 the special Dr. Seuss STEM day. The Section is most appreciative of her important contributions.

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George Farrant

George Farrant has been a steady, effective, wonderful presence as ACS volunteer for 15 years at the Maryland local section. He has been an avid volunteer in the implementation of diversity and outreach programs like Chemagination. He also collaborates with the US National Chemistry Olympiad. As a result, these programs have increased memberships and collaborations with community colleges in the area. George is Chair of the Student Awards Committee. In this capacity, he coordinates award events where he invites distinguished chemists to present lectures and contacts college professors to nominate students to insure awardees are an accurate representation of student talent.

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Patrice Cusatis

Patrice Cusatis is a key member of the Mid-Hudson Local Section. She keeps our website current, and handles our teacher and student awards. She was the chair in 2017 and during her time, we celebrated our section’s 75th anniversary with a new event and speaker every month with a Caret Club that tracked the attendees to these events for an end of year award. Patti also took on and rewrote our bylaws to bring them up to-date with current times. She is always willing to take on new tasks and has been instrumental in helping keep the chair informed of the ACS procedures.

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Lauren McCullough

Lauren McCullough demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout 2018 as the co-chair for Women Chemists Committee (WCC) of the ACS Midland Section. She has led WCC to organize innovative outreach programs such as “Skills Beyond the Bench”, “Design in Women”, “STEM Night”, “ACS Rising Stars & Bourbon Tasting”, and “Connect for H2OQ”.  She has reached out within and outside her community to carefully execute these events. Her passion for engaging a diverse group of participants has attracted several new members to serve at various WCC events. The local section applauds Lauren’s contributions and unwavering commitment to chemistry outreach.

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Sagar Patel

Sagar Patel is our go to person for back up with any outreach or section function! Sagar is a senior level graduate student in Biochemistry, yet finds the time to volunteer for ACS activities.

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New Haven

Olivier Nicaise

Olivier Nicaise stepped up as the local section coordinator for the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad in 2007 and since then, the program has grown five-fold in student participation and the number of schools participating has doubled. In these ten years of service, six students from the section have been selected to attend the prestigious study camps, with four students being selected as members of the U.S. team at the International Chemistry Olympiad competition. In addition to serving as the Chemistry Olympiad coordinator, Olivier has served the section as both Councilor and Alternate Councilor for the section.

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New York

Brian Gibney

Brian Gibney has been a key asset to New York Section Outreach for a decade. As the Section webmaster, he supports outreach events including the Undergraduate Research Symposium, Chemists Celebrate Earth Week, National Chemistry Week, and the William H. Nichols Medal. Brian co-founded the annual Brooklyn Frontiers in Science Public lecture. He pioneered the Section’s outreach using social media, monthly Chair’s Emails, and livestreaming seminars in the New York Section. Brian has served the New York Section as Chair (2017, Outstanding Local Section), Secretary (2011-2012), and Councilor (2013-2015). Nationally he serves on the Committee on Science (2014–2018).

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North Jersey

Monica Sekharan

Monica Sekharan, a long-time member of the North Jersey section, chaired the Younger Chemists Committee and in 2014 while serving as section chair ran the prestigious Baekeland Award Symposium. Under her chairmanship, the section won numerous ChemLuminary Awards and contributed to the Thomas Edison Museum (West Orange) becoming an ACS National Historic Chemical Landmark. As our National Chemistry Week Coordinator, Monica helps direct ChemExpo, where youngsters do theme-related activities with older students at the Liberty Science Center. She is a newly re-elected Councilor who serves on the Committee on Community Activities (CCA). Monica also received a Salute to Excellence for her outreach involvement.

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Jayashree Ranga

Jayashree Ranga supervises the Northeastern Section's annual Chemists Celebrate Earth Week celebration, which takes place at the Museum of Science in Boston. It features 75 educators and 15 activities, including making dye, testing food for starch and sugar, investigating the chemistry of gum, milk, and soap, measuring the E-factor of M&Ms, making cabbage juice pH indicator, investigating gummy capsules, studying candy chromatography, measuring the conductivity of liquids, and making plastics out of mushrooms. Approximately 500 museum visitors participated in these activities.

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Northeastern Ohio

J. Corinne DeMuth

J. Corinne DeMuth has been an outstanding leader in the Northeastern Ohio Local Section for the past several years. She served as Chair in 2017, and worked diligently to pave the way for current Section leaders. She planned several events, including the Young Scientist Award Banquet and a networking event at a local winery. Corinne always attends events and offers her help, guidance, and support. She served as Webmaster and Education Chair in 2018 while acting as past chair. Her service is exemplary of what it means to be a strong leader, and we are grateful for her service.

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Northern Oklahoma

Dallan Prince

Dallan Prince has been an outstanding outreach volunteer for the Northern Oklahoma Section in his activities as National Chemistry Week Committee Chair (2015-2018). During this time, Dallan and his planning committee coordinated hundreds of visits to local classrooms by generous local researchers who led hands-on experiments and provided encouraging mentorship. Approximately 1,300 students have participated annually in the experiments planned and prepared by Dallan and his dedicated team.

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Rick Ewing

Rick Ewing has been an advocate of the ACS both locally and nationally. He has been a Member of the Board of Directors, a Councilor, and served two non-consecutive terms as Chair of the ACS Philadelphia Section. Rick has also served as the Chair of the ACS Council of Economic and Professional Affairs (CEPA). During this period, Rick led an involved effort to control costs incurred by the ACS Philadelphia Section while at the same time guiding CEPA through a comprehensive strategic planning process. Rick's dedication to the Society overall is a noteworthy example for all ACS members.

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Puerto Rico

Angel Colón-Santiago

Angel Colón-Santiago has been president of a student chapter, member of several committees, and later Secretary of the Puerto Rico Section. He helped organize an Undergraduate Forum where professionals from academia, industry, and law shared their experience and approach to using chemistry outside the laboratory. Lately, Angel was one of the leaders who organized two Entrepreneurial Forums, one of them at our Senior Technical Meeting. In both activities, local scientist entrepreneurs shared their experience with our members. Additionally, as our Secretary, Angel was excellent keeping up communication with our members, creating assessment tools for our activities, and organizing our latest Senior Technical Meeting.

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Mariefel Olarte

As Secretary of the Richland Section, Mariefel Olarte was one of the champions for setting up the Women Chemists Committee, which led outreach activities to K-12 girls and young professionals. Dr. Olarte was one of the key volunteers behind the Second Annual Celebration of Science in Richland in April 2018. The Richland Section hosted a booth, which featured the yearly theme for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week. Dr. Olarte and colleagues interacted with over 200 visitors, developed awareness of oil spill damage and handed out chemistry paraphernalia. They also shared their professional experience with K-12 students interested in STEM careers.

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Savannah River

Kaitlin Lawrence

The Savannah River Section recognizes Kaitlin Lawrence, Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) Co-Chair and newly elected Savannah River local section Chair-Elect, for her outstanding commitment and service to the CSRA. Dr. Lawrence has played an integral role in maintaining the local section's long-standing outreach programs, including Chemists Celebrate Earth Week, local section event planning, and themed chemistry demonstrations at local schools, hospitals, and the Salvation Army. She has made significant strides towards increasing volunteers and outreach to the community, enhancing the YCC social media presence and by use of modern technology acquired through an ACS METT grant Dr. Lawrence submitted.

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Southern Arizona

Grazyna Zreda

Grazyna Zreda is an integral member of the Southern Arizona section, and the committee chair for outreach activities. Dr. Zreda continually provides enthusiasm and immeasurable support to the local schools that participate in events ranging from National Chemistry Week, to poster contests, to Chemists Celebrate Earth Week. In addition to her outside support, Grazyna is a dedicated chemistry teacher at the high school level and imparts her enthusiasm and knowledge to the future scientists of America, daily. Her outstanding contributions to our local section and local community should not go unnoticed.

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Southern Nevada

Erica Marti

Erica Marti led the Southern Nevada Section's outreach events for the past four years as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Participation by volunteers and interaction with community members has increased each year under her leadership. Using her experience as a former high school chemistry teacher, she prepared many of the different hands-on activities featured at outreach events. In 2018, the section collaborated with the DISCOVERY Children's Museum in Las Vegas for National Chemistry Week, and this was a highly successful event. The section looks forward to continued growth and community interaction with her at the helm!

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Julian Bobb

Julian Bobb, Virginia Section Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) Chair, has shown extraordinary outreach volunteer service in our local section. This year, he led many section activities including the Student Mentoring Program, Career Workshop, various lab tours, and YCC networking activities. He also frequently volunteers to support other committees and projects in the section. The Virginia Section is proud to recognize Julian for his volunteer service.

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