American Chemical Society announces 2019 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach winner

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 28, 2019 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) today announced Frankie Wood-Black, Ph.D., as the recipient of the 2019 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach. This award is presented annually by the ACS Committee on Public Relations and Communications (CPRC) to an ACS member whose outstanding achievements have improved public recognition and appreciation for the field of chemistry.

“I am deeply honored by this award,” says Wood-Black. “Helen has always been a mentor to me and as such, receiving an award in her name is extremely important to me. Everyone can participate in science — it’s a matter of engaging a sense of wonder and exploration of the world around us. If chemists want to get involved, they can interact with teachers and their classrooms, participate in a local section or volunteer at a favorite museum. Just be present in public!”

Wood-Black is the owner and principal at Sophic Pursuits, a consulting firm that specializes in environmental regulatory compliance and science education, as well as the chair of the engineering, physical sciences and process technology faculty at Northern Oklahoma College. She has been an ACS member for nearly 30 years and has served as the chair of the Northeastern Oklahoma Section, the Salt Lake City Section, the Women Chemists Committee and the Division of Chemical Health and Safety, among others. Since the early nineties, she has been highly involved in National Chemistry Week, an annual celebration that was established under the leadership of former ACS President and award namesake Helen M. Free, Ph.D. Wood-Black has been recognized by various ACS divisions over the years and was named an ACS Fellow in 2015.

“Dr. Wood-Black is an exemplary ambassador of chemistry to the broader public,” says CPRC Chair Amber Charlebois, Ph.D. “Her work as an educator and advocate has fostered a better understanding of science, sustainability, equity and safety across communities, and I can think of none more deserving of this honor.”

“Dr. Wood-Black is an educator at heart,” says Scott Cloud, director of public information at Northern Oklahoma College. “Her enthusiasm is contagious on campus, and she works hard for her students as they look to continue their education at four-year schools or prepare to enter the workforce.”

In addition to her outreach efforts with the ACS, Wood-Black is the author of a weekly science column in The Ponca City News, which is syndicated in the Woodward News. She is also a participant in the ACS Experts program that connects reporters to knowledgeable scientific sources. She has contributed her expertise on a wide range of subjects — including tattoo ink, bath bombs and sunscreen — for various podcasts, video series and online publications.

Wood-Black was presented with the award yesterday evening at the annual ChemLuminary Awards celebration at the ACS National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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