From Swaziland to San Juan

One of the Young Observers at this just-completed General Assembly shared a fascinating story about the role that IUPAC played in his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. After obtaining a B.S. in chemistry as an undergrad, Justin Youngblood found himself unsure what to do with his degree. So, as many have done before, he joined the Peace Corps and found himself in Swaziland, the small country between South Africa and Mozambique.

W. Justin Youngblood (University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA) is seated to the right. Fellow Young Observer Leif Abrell (University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ, USA) is on the left, and previous YO Daniel Rabinovich, University of North Carolina (USA), is in the back.


At one point in 1996, Youngblood traveled by bus to Windhoek, Namibia, for a week-long break. The trip involved a long stopover in Johannesburg where he would catch a bus to take him across South Africa’s Transvaal region (great plains). With the University of the Witwatersrand a short walk from the bus rank in downtown Johannesburg, Youngblood said that “curiosity got the better of me.” Upon exploring the chemistry department, he came across a flyer for an IUPAC conference on chemistry and the environment that grabbed his attention.

A few months later, Youngblood returned to the campus to attend the conference and it proved to be a life-changing moment. The lectures were so fascinating that he decided then and there that he would eventually pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. Further, he made a commitment to use chemistry to help the environment. Today, as a professor of chemistry at the University of North Texas, his research focuses on using synthetic organic chemistry to design compounds for studying and improving electron transport behavior in solar cells. And, all these years later, having come full circle in a sense, Prof. Youngblood confided that he still has a memento from that conference in Durban: the original flyer that reignited his passion for chemistry.

“IUPAC has been a great inspiration in my life and career,” Youngblood said. “I hope in the future to give back in a way that helps IUPAC to inspire another generation of scientists to work on scientific topics that can benefit Earth and humanity.”

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Chemistry Cartoons!

Some nice photos of the award ceremony for the Student Chemistry Cartoon Competition at the Convention Center on Monday 1 August.

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Accelerating the Contributions of Chemistry to Sustainable Development

The World Chemistry Leadership Meeting is an opportunity for leaders from chemistry to set new priorities for the science, to address the challenges of a sustainable world, and to approach Rio+20 and beyond.

The 2011 WCLM is a cornerstone event of IYC.

The objective of the WCLM will be to identify new ways to accelerate the contributions of chemistry to Sustainable Development.

This is an opportunity for the chemistry community to discuss the challenges of sustainable development and consider what we might do differently to increase the impact of chemistry in achieving development goals. We will be focussing onto three broad questions:

  • What factors restrict the contribution of chemists to the global development challenges today? Discussion could include the views expressed in Nature Vol. 496 21 Jan 6 2011 (Whitesides & Deutch).
  • What new roles could the international chemistry community play in collaboration with other international organisations to increase the impact of chemistry?
  • What new roles might IUPAC take on in support of the response to the global challenges? Sub-questions would relate to future priorities for IUPAC in education and capacity building and what practically should IUPAC do in relation to the Rio+20 World Summit in 2012?

See program flyer for details (pdf attached on the right).

As part of the program, you will be invited to a private screening of The Future of Sustainable Chemistry. Featuring 30 thought leaders in 60 minutes, this video will explore how those of us in the chemistry community, along with other stakeholders, can accelerate sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems. See handout for details (pdf attached on the right) and link to the FUTURE of SUSTAINABLE CHEMISTRY trailer.

The meeting will take place during the IUPAC General Assembly, in Puerto Rico on August 2, 2011, staring at 9:00 am in Ballroom B Convention Center.

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Prizes for Young Chemists

Come meet some rising stars of the chemistry world tonight as the IUPAC Prizes for Young Chemists are awarded at the Opening Ceremony for the IUPAC Congress at 18:00 (6 pm) at the Convention Center. A reception will follow the ceremony, an excellent chance to meet these young chemists who were selected for the best Ph.D. theses in the chemical sciences as described in 1000-word essays. Both 2011 and 2010 winners of this prestigious prize will be awarded tonight.

The winners of the 2011 IUPAC Prizes for Young Chemists are as follows:

  • Rubén Costa Riquelme, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  • William Donald, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
  • Matthew Macauley, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
  • Bozhi Tian, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • Sheng Xu, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • Chengqi Yi, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

The winners will each receive a cash prize of USD 1000 and travel expenses to the 43rd IUPAC Congress, 30 July – 7 August 2011, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Each prizewinner will also be invited to present a poster at the IUPAC Congress describing his award winning work and to submit a short critical review on aspects of his research topic to be published in Pure and Applied Chemistry.

The essays describing the 2011 Winners’ theses may be found on the IUPAC web site and cover a wide range of subject matter:

  • Dr. Costa Riquelme: Theoretical and Experimental Study of Light-Emitting Electrochemical Cells Based on Ionic Transition-Metal Complexes: From the Molecule to the Device
  • Dr. Donald: Ion NanocalorimetryMeasuring Absolute Reduction Potentials and Investigating Effects of Water on Electron Solvation and Ion Fluorescence
  • Dr. Macauley: Insight into O-GlcNAc Protein Modification Using Chemical and Biochemical Tools
  • Dr. Tian: Design, Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Nanowire Structures for Photovoltaics and Intracellular Probes
  • Dr. Xu: Oxide Nanowire Arrays for Energy Sciences
  • Dr. Yi: Probing the AlkB Family DNA/RNA Repair Enzymes with a Chemical Disulphide Cross-Linking Approach

The winners of the 2010 IUPAC Prizes for Young Chemists are as follows:

  • Guangbin Dong, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA
  • Viktoria Gessner, Technical University Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany
  • Rafal Klajn, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
  • Jason Spruell, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
  • Guihua Yu, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

The essays describing the 2010 winners’ theses also can be found on the IUPAC web site.

  • Dr. Dong: Synthetic Efficiency: Using Atom-Economical and Chemoselective Approaches towards Total Syntheses of Agelas Alkaloids, Terpestacin and Bryostatins
  • Dr. Gessner: Lithiumorganic Compounds: From the Structure-Reactivity Relationship to Versatile Synthetic Building Blocks and Their Application
  • Dr. Klajn: Self-Assembly of 0anostructured Materials
  • Dr. Spruell: Application of Copper-Catalyzed Reactions for the Efficient Synthesis of Donor-Acceptor Mechanically Interlocked Molecules as well as for Nanoscale Surface Patterning
  • Dr. Yu: Assembly and Integration of Semiconductor 0anowires for Functional Nanosystems: from 0anoelectronics to 0anobiotechnology
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Recognition and Appreciation of Service

There is no formal training that can prepare someone to become a good leader in an organization such as IUPAC. Division presidents and standing committee chairs can attest that their jobs are frequently challenging. One of Piet Steyn’s priorities when he was IUPAC president (2002–2003) was to recognize the achievements of chemists and members of IUPAC. In 2003, he instituted a formal ceremony to honor and recognize the service of IUPAC’s retiring officers, division presidents, and standing committee chairs. The tradition has continued since and at the conclusion of the President’s Address on Saturday 30 July, IUPAC President Nicole Moreau will present plaques to the following members:

  • Jim McQuillan retiring as president of the Physical and Biophysical Chemistry Division
  • Gerrit Koomen retiring as president of the Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division
  • Chris Ober retiring as president of the Polymer Division
  • Ales Fajgelj retiring as president of the Analytical Chemistry Division
  • Nicola Senesi retiring as president of the Chemistry and the Environment Division
  • Doug Templeton retiring as president of the Chemistry and Human Health Division
  • Peter Mahaffy retiring as chair of the Committee on Chemistry Education
  • David Black retiring as Secretary General
  • Jung-Il Jin retiring as vice president, president, and past president

Please join us in recognizing everyone’s contributions. The President’s Address will be tonight at 7 pm (19:00) at the Convention Center, Ballroom B. The address will be followed by a reception. All members welcome!

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Learning with Laughter

Workshop participants perform their TV commercial skit for "Waka-Waka" cosmetics.

On Friday 29 July, 20 high school and middle school science teachers who might otherwise be enjoying their summer breaks, gathered for a workshop to learn how to implement the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry program in their classrooms. Held at the Chemistry Department of the University of Puerto Rico–Rio Piedras in San Juan, the workshop found a highly receptive and enthusiastic audience. The teachers were guided through the workshop by Lida Schoen and Erica Steenberg, Science Across the World team members, who used a “train the teachers” approach in which the teachers perform the same experiments and exercises that they will have their students perform. Workshop participants were assisted by a friendly group of graduate students of Prof. Ingrid Montes Gonzalez of the Department of Chemistry.

As these photos attest, the teachers at the workshop shared many laughs as they created and performed skits of television commercials for the creams and lotions they created in the earlier experiments.

A group of the teachers from the workshop plans to conduct to hold a Young Ambassadors for Chemistry public event at the De Quimica festival, which will take place 1-4:30 PM on Sunday 31 July at the Paseo de la Princess in Old San Juan.

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Say Hello to the YOs

“Any scientific discipline, if it plans to remain vibrant and innovative, must explore ways to renew itself as it expands into new areas and develops new techniques.” These were the words of former IUPAC Bureau member E.P. Przybylowicz and he was referring to the Young Observers (YOs) program.

For nearly 15 years, Young Observers have participated in session of the General Assembly. These chemists, who represent a broad array of expertise and professional backgrounds, add vitality and a valuable perspective to the committee work in which they participate. This year, IUPAC and the National Adhering Organizations of UK and theUSAhave selected 18 chemists from 8 countries: China, India, Ireland, Peru, Philippines, Turkey, UK, and theUSA.

The YOs briefing will take place Thursday 28 July at 5:00 pm in the San Felipe Room of the Sheraton Hotel, adjacent to the main conference center where the Congress will take place. The briefing session, in which some officers and members will participate, will provide an informal introduction to IUPAC and give YOs an idea of what to expect during committee meetings. A reception will follow at 6:00 pm. Spouses and friends are welcome. Some IUPAC officers and members and special guests are invited to the reception.

Please welcome the 2011 YOs:

  • Leif Abrell (UniversityofArizona,Tuscon,AZ,USA)
  • Umut Bulut (Middle EastTechnicalUniversity,Mersin,Turkey)
  • CatherineFaler (Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering,Annandale,NJ,USA)
  • Ellen Friel (Royal Society of Chemistry,Cambridge,UK)
  • Vladimir Gubala (Dublin City University,Ireland)
  • Cristine Hernandez (University of thePhilippines, Diliman, inQuezon City)
  • Mick Hurrey (Vertex Pharmaceuticals,Cambridge,MA,USA)
  • Anatoly Kolomeisky (RiceUniversity,Houston,TX,USA)
  • LaShanda Korley (CaseWestern ReserveUniversity,Cleveland,OH,USA)
  • Richard Layfield (University of Manchester,UK)
  • Minyong Li (Shandong University,China)
  • Mahesh Mahanthappa (UniversityofWisconsin-Madison,Madison,WI,USA)
  • Bradley Miller (Environmental Protection Agency,Cincinnati,KY,USA)
  • Michele Ostraat (RTI International,RTP,NC,USA)
  • Maria Quintana (NationalUniversityofEngineering.Lima,Peru)
  • B. Jagan Mohan Reddy (Nannaya University,India)
  • W. Justin Youngblood (University of NorthTexas,Denton,TX,USA)
  • Ilya Zharov (UniversityofUtah,Salt Lake City,UT,USA)

If you are a Young Observer, please check in upon your arrival at the GA registration desk in the San Geronimo Room of the Sheraton Hotel. Your registration materials will include your name badge and the GA schedule with room allocations.

 See you inSan Juan!

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