2021 ChemLuminary Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 ChemLuminary Award winners!

American Chemical Society

Award for Volunteer Service to the American Chemical Society

Mary K. Engelman, Eastman Chemical (retired)

For exemplifying the spirit of volunteerism through her efforts to increase public awareness of chemistry and to promote science to students of all ages.

Committee on Public Relations and Communications

Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach

Jennifer Maclachlan

Jennifer’s countless public outreach efforts include science cafés, STEM-related merit badge opportunities for Boy Scouts, and a “Chemistry of Beer” event — as well as a “Science in Your Swimsuit” program at a local yacht club.

Outstanding Continuing Public Relations Program of a Local Section

Nashville Local Section

As part of the STEAM Festival, the Nashville Section organized "The Look of Things Unseen; A trans-Atlantic Visual Discussion about Submicroscopic Killers," with Martin Kemp (professor of art history at Oxford University).

Best New Public Relations Program of a Local Section

Midland Local Section

The Midland section created excitement for the 50th Earth Day by posting a Facebook countdown with 50 posts. They educated and encouraged thousands of members of the public to take personal action in celebration of Earth Day.

ACS Strategic Planning Committee

Best Activity or Program Highlighting ACS Change Driver(s) or Strategic Planning

Division of Agrochemicals (AGRO)

The Division of Agrochemicals (AGRO) initiated and expanded activities that create value for its members by focusing on synergies between its strategic plan and ACS Change Drivers. This has enabled AGRO's leadership to shape the future of the division. 

Membership Affairs Committee

MAC Industry Engagement & Outreach Award

Division of Professional Relations (PROF) 

The Professional Relations Division held a series of 10 networking sessions during ACS Fall 2020 on various topics that featured a designated leader who facilitated the discussion for an inclusive and structured attendee networking experience.

Women Chemists Committee

Outstanding Women Chemists Local Section Event 

California Local Section

Successful STEM Women of Color Must Network Differently: A conversation with Prof. Sherine O. Obare was a joint event between the California Local Section and Association for Women in Science (AWIS) East Bay that focused on breaking down the systemic barriers for women in STEM.

Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs

Outstanding Local Section Career Program

Georgia Local Section

The Georgia Local Section with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChe) presented “SCRUM FOR SCIENCE,” a free 16-hour course, on new project management skills. More than 500 of the 900 registrants earned the Scrum Foundation's Professional Certification.

Younger Chemists Committee

Outstanding Local Section Younger Chemists Committee Award

Eastern United States YCC Partnership: Eastern New York, Nashville, North Carolina, Northern New York, Philadelphia, Rochester, St. Louis, and Virginia Local Sections and the Graduate Chemistry Society of the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras

Eight ACS local section groups and the Graduate Chemistry Society of the University of Puerto Rico–Río Piedras, pooled their resources to form the Eastern United States YCC partnership. This collaboration produced professional development workshops, Self-care Sundays and Building Confidence workshops, and The Day in a Life of a Chemist series. Each event was designed to support the career and professional development needs of younger chemists while they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and reached 450 participants from across the U.S. and various foreign countries.

Outstanding New Local Section YCC

Northern New York Local Section

The Northern New York YCC hosted a number of different virtual events to meet various needs of their members and expand their reach. The main event was a series of five workshops which covered professional development topics relevant to younger chemists' careers and professional networks. Several small group discussions with career consultants were also organized to provide more individual support.  In addition, they also planned events to support budding entrepreneurs, assist in graduate school preparation and a workshop on how to improve science communication skills.

Outstanding or Creative Local Section YCC Event

Northeastern Local Section

The Northeastern Local Section YCC adopted their fifth annual Fall Career Symposium to be a virtual, three-day event in 2020 to be more accessible to attendees. Events included workshops on resumes, interviewing, and LinkedIn. Multiple career experts from the area and national career consultants were on hand to offer guidance and answer questions. Over 70 people attended the event.

Committee on Divisional Activities

Recognition of Innovation and Outstanding Service to Members of a Division

Division of Professional Relations (PROF)

The ACS Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Respect (DEIR) Advisory Board and the Division of Professional Relations (PROF) co-hosted a series of listening sessions following ACS Webinars™ on the D&I topics "Finding Your Voice in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conversation," "How to Recognize and Respond to Microaggressions," and "How to Retain Underrepresented Talent in STEM."

Joint LSAC & DAC Award

Outstanding Collaboration between a Local Section and Division Award

Division of Small Chemical Businesses (SCHB)

The Division of Small Chemical Businesses (SCHB), the Princeton section, and the Philadelphia section organized and executed "The Chemistry Entrepreneur and How YOU can be one!" workshop, followed by a "Continue the Conversation" event later that evening on Zoom.

Society Committee on Education

Fostering Interactions Between Local Sections & Student Chapters

Nashville Local Section

Although in the middle of COVID, this group was able to host events in collaboration with the Tennessee Tech Student Chapter, Nashville YCC, and the Tennessee Tech Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) chapter.  A seminar titled "Using my queer superpowers to create inclusive excellence in STEM, presented by Dr. Benny Chan, was a success, as were the many Earth Day activities hosted. Boxes of activities guides were distributed to public and private schools, nursing homes, doctors' offices, universities, and the Chamber of Commerce of Commerce.  Media was used to show videos virtually.

Outstanding U. S. National Chemistry Olympiad

Midland Local Section

184 students from 9 schools participated. Retiring teachers shared Olympiad experience with new teachers, educating them about the benefits of the program. The section provided recommended chemistry topics to encourage the students to prepare for the U. S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO). 

Outstanding High School Student Program Award

Princeton Local Section

In 2020, the Princeton local section engaged students with their Chemagination contest. For this program, high school students innovatively applied their chemistry knowledge to develop futuristic improvements that were reviewed by peers, teachers, and judges.

Outstanding Engagement with K-8 Students

Virginia Local Section

In 2020, Virginia disbursed activity bags to 130 teachers across 16 counties. This highly collaborative effort provided teachers with thirteen versatile STEM activities and various ACS resources for their virtual teaching classes.

Joint SOCED and AACT Governing Board Award

Outstanding American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) Support Award

Chicago Local Section

The Chicago Local Section hosted several round table discussions for K–12 educators via Zoom; created and distributed 50 kits with activities and corresponding videos to help teachers connect topics and propose ways to incorporate them into existing curricula.

Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs

ACS President’s Award for Local Section Government Affairs

Southern Arizona Local Section

The Southern Arizona local section organized an online advocacy workshop. Attendees learned effective strategies for talking to policymakers, developed and practiced their personal advocacy pitch, and then shared policy recommendations with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Committee on Environmental Improvement

Outstanding Sustainability Activities Award

Binghamton Local Section

The Binghamton Local Section presented a one-hour, Zoom-based event focused on sustainability with respect to plastic-s and polymers for 84 participants in 54 households. Kits were distributed to link the chemistry of polymerization to the global plastic pollution issue.

Committee on Corporation Associates

Outstanding Local Section Industry Event

Northeastern Local Sections

The Northeastern Local Section is recognized for its Medicinal Chemistry Webinar series featuring leading researchers from Novartis and Merck.  The three webinars in 2020 filled a void when in-person meetings could not be held and were well-received by more than 400 members and nonmembers.

Committee on Technician Affairs

Best Event or Activity Organized by, or Benefiting, the Applied Chemical Technology Professional Community

Midland Local Section

The Mid-Michigan Technician group invited chemical technology students and ACS students from local universities to a networking lunch and tour of Dow’s Research and Development (R&D) Campus.  Included were presentations, outreach, networking events, and demonstrations regarding chemical technicians.

Committee on Minority Affairs

Best Overall Local Section Minority Affairs Committee

Georgia and Portland Local Sections

The Georgia Section bestows the Percy Julian Award each year to ethnically and racially underrepresented students. Many underrepresented STEM students are also 1st-generation students. The St. Elmo Brady Award was created and given out during the Percy Julian Award event.

During COVID-19, the ACS Portland Section made PPE emergency kits and collected bedding for those in need. Through 3-D printing, they produced 'ear savers' and silicone seals for first responders, and collected bedding and sanitation kit donations for Tribal Elders.

Committee on International Activities

Global Engagement Award for International Chemical Sciences Chapters

Peru International Chemical Sciences Chapter

The ACS Peru International Chapter, in collaboration with five ACS international student chapters, created the Chemistry Without Borders website. The website includes informational and instructional content to help students learn about chemistry in Spanish.

Global Engagement Award for Technical Division

Division of Agrochemicals (AGRO)

The AGRO Division initiated and expanded activities engaging the international scientific community, including sponsoring eleven symposia for PacifiChem in 2021, and creating a Liaison Committee that established six new partnerships with international scientific organizations.

Outstanding Global Partnership Award

Georgia International Chemical Sciences Chapter

The ACS Georgia International Chapter facilitated a partnership between San Diego State University-Georgia and the Association of Pharmaceutical Companies Representatives in Georgia. University students met with the APCR to discuss industry hiring and scholarships.


Fostering Interactions between International Chapters & International Student Chapters

Malaysia International Chemical Sciences Chapter

The ACS Malaysia International Chapter partnered with four ACS student chapters to host "ChemFest: Climate and Earth Science." The event taught over 300 students about climate change through virtual labs, quizzes, and Zoom activities.

Senior Chemists Committee

Best Continuing Senior Chemists Activity in a Local Section

Puget Sound Local Section

The Puget Sound Local Section organized activities to honor its 50, 60, and 70 -year members. Honorees were highlighted in the August newsletter. A special webinar was hosted in October 2020; three honorees were featured speakers.

Best New Senior Chemists Activity within a Local Section  

Indiana and Kentucky Lake Local Sections

The Indiana Local Section held a Mentorship Program that brought graduate students and senior chemists together and established 11 one-on-one mentorships.  Mentors meet with students twice monthly. The section achieved 24 new student members through this endeavor.  

The Kentucky Lake Local Section held an all-day science event at Central Elementary school that included ACS-sponsored activities: marshmallows in a vacuum, Bernoulli bags, plasma balls, and the extraction of DNA from strawberries. 

Committee on Meetings & Expositions

Outstanding Regional Meeting

2019 Central Regional Meeting (CERM)

The CERM 2019 was hosted by the Midland Local Section in Midland, Michigan. An estimated 7,000 students participated in CERM's unique Regional Experiment programming during the 2018-2019 school year. The event featured world-class technical programming for both chemistry and public audiences.

Committee on Community Activities

Most Creative & Innovative Use of the CCEW Theme

Silicon Valley Local Section

The Silicon Valley Local Section collaborated with the Redwood City Library to host virtual hands-on experiments based on the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week 2020 theme of "Protecting Our Planet through Chemistry." The Section distributed activity materials around "earth-friendly plastics" and "(re)cycling water," created a video demonstrating the experiments, and hosted a Zoom conference with 4th-7th graders to explain the science while students conducted experiments in the safety of the homes.

Most Creative NCW Celebration Using the Yearly Theme

Brazosport Local Section

During the pandemic, the Brazosport Local Section hosted a virtual seminar on adhesives for National Chemistry Week 2020 reflecting the theme "Sticking with Chemistry." The 90-minute event featured four subject matter experts covering different "sticky" businesses like polyurethanes, adhesives, packaging, and performance silicones. With a panel of diverse technical experts, the Section was able to attract a broad audience of industry attendees across different companies and businesses.

Outstanding Community Involvement in CCEW

Nashville and Northeast Wisconsin Local Sections

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nashville Local Section distributed nine boxes of ACS's children's publication, Celebrating Chemistry, to public and private schools, nursing homes, doctors' offices, universities, and Nashville Earth Day. Experiments were conducted virtually through social media and at the virtual Tennessee Science Teacher Association Conference.

The Northeast Wisconsin Local Section sponsored free virtual events and an Earth Day Trivia Contest for families with pre-college students. Families received print copies of Celebrating Chemistry, ChemMatters, and other educational materials. Volunteers presented three Facebook Live Chemistry Shows and demonstrated activities that families could do at home. The activities were publicized through various school districts, newspapers, online event sites, and on social media.

Outstanding Community Involvement in NCW

Northeastern Local Section

Despite COVID-19, the Northeastern Local Section continued to collaborate with the Boston Children's Museum and the Museum of Science, Boston to run a weeklong virtual celebration of chemistry for National Chemistry Week 2020. Volunteers and guest educators included individuals from local industries, colleges, nonprofit STEAM organizations, as well as high school chemistry clubs.

Outstanding NCW Event for a Specific Audience

Virginia Local Section

The Virginia Local Section went above and beyond to provide educational kits with activity materials and lesson plans to virtual audiences to celebrate National Chemistry Week 2020. With the help of the Science Museum of Virginia, the Section covered 16 counties and reached 130 classrooms with activity kits for the virtual teaching of chemistry. Educational videos produced by the Museum and the Section's Younger Chemists Committee supplemented the kits.

Outstanding Ongoing NCW Event

Midland Local Section

The Midland Local Section has hosted events for National Chemistry Week continuously for over 30 years. While the Section typically organizes "walk-by" activities led by students and members, last year was the first time the Section made videos and hosted a virtual poem contest in response to the pandemic and a major flood, which effected venues, business partners, and event supplies. Midland's virtual celebration of chemistry speaks to their resilience and on-going commitment to STEM outreach.

Outstanding Public Outreach Event Organized by a Student Group

Richland Local Section

The Richland Local Section hosted a "Girls in Science" event last November and gave participants the opportunity to dig into the science behind COVID-19. The Section assembled materials that were mailed out in advance so each participant could follow along with hands-on activities during the virtual component. The day of virtual programming started with a talk about the scientific method, viruses, and COVID-19 and was followed by a SARS-CoV-2 model building activity and a discussion about viruses.

Outstanding Virtual Event for CCEW or NCW

Midland Local Section

Pivoting quickly in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns, the Midland Local Section hosted four Zoom seminars and filmed three educational videos with demos and activities for Chemists Celebrate Earth Week 2020. More than any other section, Midland offered a variety of virtual programs to inform the public on environmental issues, educate across age ranges, promote actions that instill "green" habits, and provide resources for families and educators seeking virtual Earth Day activities.

Committee on Local Section Activities

Best Activity or Program in a Local Section Stimulating Membership Involvement

Eastern New York, Northern New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Virginia Local Sections

The five winning sections that formed the Eastern U.S. Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) Partnership worked together to host a series of webinar-style "Day in a Life," events to highlight the day-to-day activities of younger chemist in a variety of careers and professions.

Local Section Partnership Award/Marinda Li Wu Award

Indiana Local Section

Celebrate Science Indiana 2020 almost didn't happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the section came together and held the event virtually.   Presenters at the event demonstrated the importance of studying science and the joy of discovery, as well as the economic value of science, and its significance to society. 

Most Innovative New Activity or Program

Indiana Local Section

The Indiana section engaged underserved children during the COVID-19 pandemic. The section prepared kits that included a child-sized cloth mask, sanitizer, soap, a new 20-second chemistry jingle to sing while washing their hands.

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Small Size Category Award

Kentucky Lake Local Section

Among other activities, the Kentucky Lake section conducted two very unique events that focused on engaging younger and senior chemists.  First, the section facilitated a graduate student panel where three recent graduates answered questions and gave their perspectives on life in graduate school. Second, the section produced a series of YouTube videos featuring students interviewing senior chemists about their career journeys.

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Medium Small Size Category Award

Brazosport  Local Section

2020 was a challenging but fruitful year for the Brazosport local section. The section implemented its new strategic plan with a clear vision, mission, and goals.  Additionally, the section was fortunate to receive three ACS grants including an Innovative Project grant (IPG) focused on career readiness & networking, a local section Members Engaging Through Technology (METT) grant for virtual outreach and demonstrations and a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Respect (DEIR) grant focused on Girls in STEM. 

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Medium Size Category Award

Midland Local Section

The Midland section conducted a series of virtual events using web-based tools to offer hands-on activities to extend our programming to a wider audience.  Programs included a well-attended series of virtual seminars on the environment and in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, a diversity and inclusion seminar highlighting racial injustice impacting their community.

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Medium Large Size Category Award

Pittsburgh Local Section

The Pittsburgh section conducted a wide range of activities in 2020 including delivering its signature events during NCW and an awards program that recognized its 50, 60, and 70-year members and the winner of the Pittsburgh award.  The section also focused on improving communication via an update of its monthly newsletter and a redesigned website.

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Large Size Category Award

New York Local Section

The New York local section offered a wide variety of opportunities for its members to participate in technical and social activities. In 2020, the section had three active Subsections and four active Topical Discussion Groups. The section conducted a section-wide conference and held a series of virtual seminars focused on distance learning and teaching virtual laboratory courses, among other activities. 

Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Very Large Size Category Award

Chicago Local Section

Although the Chicago local section had grand plans for its 125 anniversary in 2020, it did not let COVID-19 spoil its celebrations.  The section convened its regular monthly and board meetings online and saw a marked increase in participation.  The section completed a major bylaw revision and reorganized its operating structure into five divisions: Administration, Communication, Education & Outreach, Membership, and Science.