American Chemical Society announces winner of the Chemistry Champions competition

SAN FRANCISCO, August 12, 2014 — In an effort to find and train promising science communicators — perhaps even find the “Carl Sagan of chemistry” — the American Chemical Society (ACS) hosted the finals for the Chemistry Champions competition at its national meeting in San Francisco on August 10. Jennifer Novotney, a graduate student at Cornell University, was voted the 2014 Chemistry Champion by a live audience and by viewers over a live video stream.

Novotney, who spoke on the importance of polymers to everyday life and her research using polymer materials to detect substances like the explosive TNT, will receive a paid trip to Washington, DC, to tour the ACS headquarters and be filmed as a host for an upcoming ACS Reactions video ( She will also host a future ACS Webinar ( And she will be a featured speaker at an upcoming event organized by the National Academy of Sciences’ The Science and Entertainment Exchange ( to share chemistry research insights with members of the entertainment industry.

The 2014 runner-up Chemistry Champion was Alexis Shusterman, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. During the competition, Shusterman spoke about her research to increase the accuracy of tracking emissions of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). As the Chemistry Champ runner-up, Shusterman will host an upcoming ACS Webinar.

The competition, which started this past spring, winnowed down a field of 27 individuals, who submitted short videos describing their research. A group of 10 semifinalists were selected and brought to San Francisco for science communications training in stage performance and visuals presentation. The 10 semifinalists then competed and five finalists were selected to compete on August 10.

In addition to Novotney and Shusterman, the other finalists were:

  • Geoff Dubrow, graduate student at the University of Minnesota
  • Tien Nguyen, Ph.D., 2014 Ph.D. graduate from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, presently at Princeton University
  • Ashlee Robison, undergraduate student at Fort Lewis College

The other five semifinalists were:

  • Jennifer Apell, graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tierra Range, undergraduate student at Centenary College of Louisiana
  • Shane Stone, undergraduate student at Syracuse University
  • Krista Wilson, Ph.D., pre-tenure faculty member at Wingate University
  • Shannon Woodruff, graduate student at Southern Methodist University

Information about the contest is available at To view the finals, visit Chemistry Champions is shared by @AmerChemSociety #chemchamps and via Entry videos of the ten semifinalists are available via

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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During the meeting, Aug. 9-13, the contacts may be reached at the S.F. Press Center: 415-978-3506.

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