By Geneviève Sauvé
Past Chair of the ACS Cleveland Section

Serving as chair of the ACS local section in 2020 was a privilege and a great experience. I am grateful to all volunteers of the ACS Cleveland section that have made the year 2020 memorable for our community. We started the year strong, with goals including increasing diversity of active local section members and increasing our presence and participation in outreach activities in the Cleveland community by capitalizing on our existing programs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise and forced us to adapt to a new reality. I am especially thankful to our dedicated executive committee, who worked extra to adjust to our new reality.

I am thankful to our dedicated volunteers, especially to Bob Fowler and the other members of the National Chemistry Week committee, who did something special for the kids despite the pandemic: they organized an on-line chemistry contest in collaboration with the Cuyahoga County Library System (CCLS). We had a total of 6 winners in grades 2-6. We also recognized the outstanding high school chemistry teacher Lisa Cumming, this year’s recipient of the Heller-Dabrowski Award. We are also proud that our long-time active executive committee member Dwight Chasar, who was awarded the Cleveland Technical Societies Council’s 2020 Robert B. Cummings Distinguished Leadership Award. Finally, we created a new student travel grant to attend a national ACS meeting, named in Chasar’s honor. This new award will be implemented when in-person conferences return.

Here are some of our meeting highlights:

We began the year of 2020 with our Past-Chair Night on January 15, where we honored our past and current chair for their important service to our section. A total of 10 past-chairs attended! We also enjoyed a great meal at Kan Zaman and a fascinating talk by Michael Fricke about arsenic chemistry and the history of the Cleveland Mousetrap.

In February, we learned all about the United States National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) and the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), thanks to a great talk by Dr. Melissa Barranger, chemistry professor at Ursuline College and mentor for USNCO. Mellissa shared with us her travels with the USA team, and even tested our knowledge with example competition questions.

March 9 was our Meeting-in-Miniature, which was held at the Cuyahoga Community College Western Campus in Parma. Little did we know that this was to be the last time we met in person for the year. We had 19 oral presentations by students and an inspiring plenary talk by David A. Schiraldi at Case Western Reserve University. Three undergrad and three graduate students also won awards for their outstanding talks.

The education night scheduled for April 15 was cancelled due to the pandemic. In May, we announced the winner for the 2020 Edward W. Morley Award, Prof. John Herbert from the Ohio State University. However, due to the pandemic, we postponed the award presentation to a later date.

Since there was no sign for this pandemic to go away, we adjusted and moved our programing online. On September 16, we enjoyed our first Zoom presentation, which was an intriguing overview of negative emission technologies by Dr. Peter Psarras, Assistant professor at Cuyahoga Community College.  On October 21, we formally congratulated our 2020 Morley award winner virtually, and enjoyed a wonderful technical talk on the computational research projects going on in Prof. John Herbert’s group.

We concluded the year with a fun non-conventional virtual tour of the intermuseum conservation association laboratory, located in west Cleveland. We first watched a short pre-recorded video tour of the conservation laboratory, followed by a live Q&A session with the group of conservators. Several of the conservators were in their laboratory, and thus could walk over and show us different art examples as they answered our questions.

All these activities and programming are only possible thanks to the dedication of local volunteers. If you would like to be more active in our section, please do not hesitate to contact us either at our monthly meetings, on the website contact page, or by directly contacting me via email ( [email protected]).

Lastly, please welcome our newly elected Executive Committee members, who will serve in the coming year:

Chair-elect:  Peter Psarras
Treasurer: Yana Sanders
Director: Mekki Bayachou
Trustee: Dwight Chasar

Thank you and Happy New Year!