October 2016: National Chemistry Week


National Chemistry Week: Solving Mysteries through Chemistry
Date: Saturday October 15, 2016, 10 am – 1 pm
Location: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 150 E. San Fernando St., San Jose

Hands-on science experiments for children are among the many activities planned for area residents during this year’s celebration of National Chemistry Week, Oct. 16-22. This year’s theme is “Solving Mysteries through Chemistry.” The annual event is an outreach program hosted by the Santa Clara Valley section of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

This year’s celebration will kick-off on Saturday October 15th, 10 am to 1 pm at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose (150 E. San Fernando St.) with a day of hands-on science activities for elementary-school children and their parents. Area chemists will supervise and explain the importance of each activity. The Chemistry Wheel of Fortune will be spinning for all children to win a prize. Children will make colorful slime in the slime lab, experiment with boo bubbles and explore the fascinating and varied chemistry of fibers, forensics and more.

Click here for a PDF version of this flier which you can download, print and post on a bulletin board.

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Chair’s Message, October 2016

Chair’s Message – October 2016

As this year winds down, our local section activity ramps up. Several of these events arise from new areas of activity in our section for you to check out.  Evidence follows.

SCVACS Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) is back!

Matt Greaney is working with the ownership of the Golden State Brewery in Santa Clara to host a gathering of chemists on their premises for the evening of November 15, 2016.  Brewmaster Seth Hendrickson will lead a tour of the facility and speak about the brewing process. The event is jointly sponsored by the YCC and the Senior Chemists Committee.  Flights of beer and food truck refreshments will lubricate intergenerational conversations.  Keep an eye on the event’s webpage for registration information.

Matt is an Alternate Councilor for the SCVACS. He has been active in the California section’s YCC and has plans to organize joint Younger Chemists programs between the two vicinal sections.  Contact him with your ideas for future YCC events and to become involved with this dynamic YCC group.

Monterey Bay ACS activity thrives

Slava Bekker is taking the reins in organizing our future Monterey Bay (MB) area ACS activity with a dinner lecture scheduled for Friday evening, October 21st.  This second MB event follows the inaugural Monterey Bay ACS event that took place in April 2016 at Cabrillo College and sold out due to high demand!

The October 21st event will take place at the Moss Landing Marine Labs. Dr. Kenneth Coale will speak about his research “Seeing Through The Fog: Discovering the Cycling of Mercury From Sea To Land”. Preview it here.

Slava is on the chemistry faculty of Hartnell Community College in Salinas. She is a member of the SCVACS Teacher Scholar Community College Award Committee.  Her extracurricular activity includes mobilizing to provide after-school science tutoring in Salinas-area high schools, in longer term preparation for their participation in the ACS Chemistry Olympiad.

Also on tap for October and November:

Saturday, October 1: a repeat of last year’s popular multi-section ACS event at UC Davis, “The Flavors of Chemistry”. Professors Moshe Rosenberg and Andrew Waterhouse presented the chemistry of cheese and wine, respectively. Their talks were accompanied by a generous series of wine and cheese pairings.

Saturday, October 15: local celebration of National Chemistry Week with the theme “Solving Mysteries through Chemistry”. Martin Luther King Library, San Jose.  A day of hands-on science activities for elementary-school children and their parents organized by SCVACS member Abby Kennedy. Area chemists will supervise and explain the importance of each activity.  Volunteers welcomed.

Saturday, November 5: The Bay Area Science Festival Discovery Day at AT&T Park – hundreds of hands-on activities and opportunities to meet local scientists and engineers in a forum of educational entertainment on a major league baseball field.  The entire ballpark is packed with booths, including ours with hands-on ACS activities.   SCVACS member Natalie McClure oversees our participation and welcomes you as a volunteer.

November 17: SCVACS Community College Teacher-Scholar Award Ceremony and Dinner.  San Jose City College. More info to follow on our website and in our newsletter.  Contact: Jose Cabrera.

November 30: SCVACS tour of the new Silicon Valley US Patent and Trademark Office, San Jose.  More info to follow on our website and in our newsletter. Contact: Howard Peters.


We hope to see you at one or several of these upcoming events. Bring a friend or family member to introduce them to your dynamic local ACS science organization.

Be sure to participate in the 2016 elections of your SCVACS 2017 leadership team! You will receive a ballot and voting instructions by email early November.

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October 2016: The Chemistry of Wine and Cheese

The Chemistry of Wine and Cheese
Date: Saturday October 1, 2016
Speakers: Professor Moshe Rosenberg and Professor Andrew Waterhouse
Location: Activities and Recreation Center, UC Davis Campus

We are pleased to announce the return of a very popular event from last year: our Flavors of Chemistry event. Professor Moshe Rosenberg, Professor and Specialist in Dairy Engineering and Technology in the Food Science and Technology Department at UC Davis, will speak on the topic of “The Chemistry of Cheese.” He will be followed by Professor Andrew Waterhouse, Professor of Enology in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, speaking about “The Chemistry of Wine.” Their talks will be followed by a selection of wine and cheese pairings. This event will bring together members of four ACS Local Sections: Santa Clara Valley, California, Sierra Nevada, and Sacramento. The District VI Director of ACS, Dr. Paul Jagodzinski, will attend and also briefly address the attendees.

Seminar The Chemistry of Wine and Cheese
Date Saturday October 1, 2016
Time 2 – 6 pm
Location Activities and Recreation Center, UC Davis Campus
Parking is free on campus on weekends
Cost $25.00 ($26.87 w/service fee) ACS Member
$30.00 ($32.04 w/service fee) Non-ACS Member
$15.00 ($16.52 w/service fee) Student ACS member
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September 2016: The Information Landscape for Chemists at Work and Play

Image from Pacific Institute, http://pacinst.org

The Information Landscape for Chemists at Work and Play
Date: Wednesday September 14, 2016
Speaker: Ms. Grace Baysinger
Location: Michael’s at Shoreline Park, Mountain View

[Click here for Grace’s presentation. – 8.41MB]

Most new chemical information is published digitally. Older years for journals and books by major publishers are being digitized too. Print reference books are now searchable as online databases. Major abstracting and indexing services continue to add “power tools” to help users find information more effectively and efficiently. While some resources are limited to current students, faculty, and staff at subscribing institutions, a growing number of resources are openly accessible to everyone. This presentation will provide an overview about key chemistry resources plus interesting and cool resources to explore for fun. It will also briefly cover opportunities and challenges facing 21st century research libraries. Finally, this talk will summarize opportunities for serving on committees or participating in Divisions in ACS that have a chemical information focus.

Ms. Grace Baysinger, has been the Head Librarian and Bibliographer at the Swain Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library in the Stanford University Libraries, for the past 26 years. Prior to moving to California, she worked in the University of Michigan Library. Grace’s interests include scholarly communication and publishing plus discovery methods and interfaces for finding information. On campus she is the project lead for providing federated search services called xSearch (searching multiple resources at one time), and for helping support publication feeds for Stanford Profiles. ACS contributions include serving and Chairing on the ACS Committee for Publications, ACS Committee for Chemical Abstracts Service, ACS Committee on Community Activities, and being Chair of the ACS Division for Chemical Information (CINF). Currently, she is a member of the CAS Committee and Chair of the CINF’s Education Committee. Other current professional activities include serving on the advisory boards for the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Journal of Chemical Education, and the Science of Synthesis database.

Seminar The Information Landscape for Chemists at Work and Play
Date Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
Time 6:00 Social Hour
7:00 Dinner
8:00 Presentation
Location Michael’s at Shoreline
2960 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain Viewopen_in_new_window
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Chair’s Message, September 2016

At the ACS national meeting in Philadelphia last month there was an abundance of technical presentations in the fertile interdisciplinary zones between chemistry and bio/agro/medicine. Examples included symposia on Controlling Zika Vector Mosquitos, The Chemistry, Safety & Technology of GMO Foods, and Chemical Neurotransmission: What Are We Thinking?

You can hear and view directly the authors speaking about these interdisciplinary advances with the ACS pressroom’s posting of video interviews.  Some examples follow.

In a symposium on how chemists are involved in the Obama administration’s BRAIN program – Brain Research through Advancing Innovating Neurotechnologies – Watching Thoughts and Addiction Form in the Brain describes cell-based brain-implanted detectors of neurotransmitter release.  The detectors – optical biosensors that emit light that is captured with two-photon microscopy – distinguish between norepinephrine and dopamine.

Combining the topics of energy and diagnostics, Batteries You Can Swallow to Enable Future Edible Medical Devices describes batteries made with nontoxic melanin pigment to someday power ingestible devices for diagnostics and therapy.

Addressing the need to distinguish viable pharmaceutical products from falsified or degraded counterparts, a paper card was displayed containing sets of reagents that detect materials or functional groups found in active pharmaceutical ingredients, degradation products or common fillers. Paper-based Detection of Falsified or Degraded Drugs demonstrates the card’s chromatographic activity, coupled with visual indicators, in differentiating between degraded and viable antibiotics.


In a refreshing event to boost the careers of younger scientists, C&ENews hosted the symposium The Talented 12: Twelve Young Chemical Scientists Whose Next Moves You Won’t Want to Miss.  The twelve each took the podium and described their science under colorfully named monikers such as ‘proteomics provocateur’, ‘contaminant catcher’, ‘molecule machinist’, and ‘image interrogator’. In case this sounds familiar, the August 22, 2016 edition of C&ENews featured many aspects of these twelve young scientists’ lives.

One perk of being at the ACS national meetings is access to decision-makers.  In conversation with the editor of C&ENews, Bibiana Campos Seijo [‘Bibi’], I repeated my request made over many years  that the periodical’s technical reports be made available to the public.  My requests arose from my  bringing copies of articles relevant to lessons I was teaching to high school classrooms where I’m a Science Coach.  Having to tell the teachers and students that they could not access the articles directly was, and still is, an embarrassment.  An important role of the ACS is to educate the public!  This time Bibi, a relative newcomer to the ACS, provided the encouraging response that modes for nonmembers to gain limited access to C&ENews are under consideration.   I look forward to an update in our next conversation at the Spring 2017 San Francisco ACS meeting.

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Chair’s Message, August 2016

With autumn a month away, we enter 2016’s homestretch.   What does this mean for your Santa Clara Valley ACS section?

Some roles on our leadership team are beginning to shift toward next year’s responsibilities. For example, monthly events are now arranged by our chair-elect, Todd Eberspacher.   Todd is preparing a varied slate of events, including:

  • The Information Landscape for Chemists, a dinner talk by Stanford’s head chemistry librarian, Grace Baysinger, on September 14.   Register here.
  • Wine and cheese tasting at UC Davis with two other Northern California ACS sections on Saturday, October 1st. Keep an eye on our website for registration details.
  • The newly opened Silicon Valley branch of the US Patent & Trademark Office.
    Retired patent lawyer, Howard Peters, provides us the benefit of his USPTO experience by arranging this event in the novel setting of the patent office itself, in San Jose City Hall.
    The Silicon Valley USPTO is a West Coast regional office serving California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii. Registration details to appear on our website.

Another shift is underway in preparations for SCVACS’s 2016 election of members for its 2017 leadership team. We are excited to have a ballot this year with multiple candidates for our leadership positions. A number of members and newcomers to SCVACS have stepped up to fuel a surge of interest in rejuvenating our section. Step up and contact us if you would like to take part in this transformation. Open positions include Secretary, Chair-elect, Councilors and Alternate Councilors, described on our website.


  • Our May dinner-lecture with founder Pat Brown of Impossible Foods
    The Impossible Foods website has been updated and now posts locations where you can taste their products.
  • Monterey Bay area ACS activity
    The success of our kick-off event in April at Cabrillo College in Aptos has catalyzed the planning of a second event in September at the Moss Landing Marine Labs.       The topic is the distribution and speciation of mercury in the California Current from sea to land via fog …backwards as most pollutants flow from land to sea. Monterey Bay area events – geared to serve those who live in the southern half of our SCVACS local section from Santa Cruz to Monterey and Salinas – are open to all. Keep an eye on our website as the details emerge.
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Chair’s Message, July 2016

Our Santa Clara Valley ACS section’s summer event is termed a “picnic” but it is quite a bit more. It has all the trappings of a picnic with barbecued chicken, potato salad, and corn bread on Stanford’s campus surrounding the chemistry buildings. This part of the day is particularly family-friendly with children eating and playing outdoors while their families socialize.

Another phase of the Saturday event is wine-tasting, planned and served by our section’s ‘sommelier’, Dr. Peter Rusch. Peter’s fine taste in wines and connection to California wineries also serve us well at our monthly dinner events. This year we feature wines from the Donati Family Winery, located near Paso Robles. Donati’s grapes are grown in the Paicines AVA (American Viticultural Area) in San Benito County, an hour or so south of San Jose and east of Monterey.  Peter will be pouring Donati’s pinot blanc, unoaked chardonnay, rose and claret.

The highlight of our Saturday together is recognition of our section’s 50- and 60-year ACS members. We introduce those guests of honor one-by-one, hearing their tales and savoring their advice accrued over their many years in chemistry. Their careers have contributed to the integrated circuit, regenerative medicine, and safe water supplies. They have found themselves in clean rooms, wet rooms, and dark rooms; on the SF Bay’s mudflats, in wineries, and aboard ships; in lecture halls, labs, offices, and boardrooms.  Their stories enrich us with their historical perspectives and accomplishments.

Yet another highlight is the presentation of awards for outstanding service to the section. See the SCVACS newsletter this month and next month for reporting about the recipients of the annual Ottenberg and Radding Awards. Then nominate a colleague for next year’s Ottenberg and Radding Awards!

Finally, the picnic is a relaxed setting to meet new people and see old friends, to talk about research and lives in the SF Bay area, and to relish being in the company of like-minded folks while broadening our views with their range of experiences.  We hope to see you there.

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July 2016: Annual Picnic, Wine Tasting and Awards Ceremony

SCVACS Annual Picnic, Wine Tasting and Awards Ceremony
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Stanford University, Mudd Chemistry Building

picnicOur next event will be our summer wine tasting and picnic on Saturday, July 9, on the Stanford campus.

The wine tasting will be in the lobby of the Keck Science Building. The wines we’ll be tasting will be from the Donati Family Winery, located in Templeton, California, near Paso Robles.

The picnic will be in the general area around the Keck Science Building, and we’ll put up signs to direct you to the right place if necessary. Featured will be our usual catered picnic outside the nearby Mudd chemistry building.

Afterwards, ceremonies inside the Mudd building will honor our 50th- and 60th-year members, as well as other award winners.

The picnic will be a buffet catered by Armadillo Willy’s, as it has been for several years now, and the menu will include:

Barbecued chicken
Smoked beef brisket
Grilled portobello mushrooms
Tossed salad
Potato salad
Cornbread muffins
Wine (both red and white), sodas, water
Enough dessert for all

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June 2016: Redesigning the Interface Between Fresh Produce and the Environment for Sustainable Agriculture

SCVACS June 2016 Dinner Seminar
Joint with the Golden Gate Polymer Forum
“Redesigning the Interface Between Fresh Produce and the Environment for Sustainable Agriculture”
Dr. James Rogers, CEO Apeel Sciences
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Michael’s at Shoreline, Mountain View
Flyer for event

StrawberryApeel Sciences creates products from natural plant extracts that allow growers to reduce reliance on pesticides, increase produce quality, and provide superior shelf life even when optimal temperature control is not possible. As the world confronts the implications of an ever-expanding population, agriculture will need to evolve in order to improve the efficiency with which we use our natural resources. In the US, the majority of our fresh water is consumed for irrigation while 40% of our fresh produce is lost to spoilage before it can be used. This means that we are literally “throwing away” a portion of our available freshwater supply, not to mention the added negative environmental consequences of pesticide usage associated with growing the huge fraction of produce that ultimately ends up in landfills. Our innovative technologies protect crops and help to significantly reduce spoilage, which in turn reduces water use, lowers energy costs, and helps preserve natural ecosystems. Using agricultural byproducts – parts of the plant that are normally discarded – Apeel creates products that fortify the surfaces of fresh fruits and vegetables, forming an ultra-thin barrier that camouflages crops and shields produce from both biotic and abiotic stressors. Made from 100% plant material, Apeel’s protective formulas are invisible, tasteless, edible and durable.

PearsJames Rogers, Apeel’s Science Director & CEO, received dual undergraduate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Materials Science & Engineering and Biomedical Engineering and received his PhD in Materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara. For his PhD research, James was the recipient of the 2012 Frank J. Padden Jr. Award for polymer physics, the premier polymer physics prize in the United States. James is a graduate of the UC Santa Barbara Technology Management Program and also holds a Master’s degree in Economics.
Drawing from his research, James founded Apeel Sciences to help provide new organic technology solutions for sustainable agriculture. James guides corporate strategy and oversees the company’s research and development efforts.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

6:00 Social Hour
7:00 Dinner
8:00 Presentation

Michael’s at Shoreline
2960 N. Shoreline Boulevard
Mountain View, CA

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Chair’s Message, June 2016

June is an apt midpoint to take stock of the year’s SCVACS activity. Let’s summarize what we have been doing, a good opportunity to query you on what works well for you and what we might do differently.

Have you noted changes in the activity of the section?   Have you participated in local section activity in the past year?  What would lead you to take part?

Our monthly events have included:

  • A tour for chemists of Silicon Valley’s Advanced Water Purification Center [March 2016]
  • “The Future of Water” seminar by world-renowned water expert and founder of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick [April 2016]
  • “The World’s Most Destructive Industry (cattle-raising for food) and a Solution” seminar by Impossible Foods founder and CEO, Pat Brown [May 2016]
  • “The Story of Light and Single Molecules” seminar by Nobel Laureate W.E. Moerner [October 2015]

Many of these monthly event topics reckon back to George Whitesides’ “Reengineering Chemistry – What’s Next” – a list of 24 societal concerns where chemistry solutions are warranted that was featured in the February 2016 Chair’s Message.

We have partnered with the Golden Gate Polymer Forum in hosting a joint dinner seminar, co-mingling the two related communities. The popularity of the joint format on its first occasion in June 2015 led to making it an annual event with another this month, June 2016. The joint June 2015 meeting featured “Materials for Enabling Nanomanufacturing” by Al Nelson (U. Washington & IBM). The joint June 2016 meeting, “Redesigning the Interface Between Fresh Produce and the Environment for Sustainable Agriculture”, showcases Apeel Sciences, a start-up in Santa Barbara that extracts hydrogels from unused plant parts for coating fruits and vegetables to prolong lifetimes. That meeting’s information and registration link is in the June 2016 entry of our website’s Events page.  We would like to foster this format of bringing together the memberships of related organizations in shared events and welcome your suggestions of compatible partners.

We have ‘discovered’ the delightful venue of Michael’s at Shoreline for our dinner seminar meetings, located in a nature preserve by the San Francisco Bay in Mountain View.   The networking hour that precedes the dinner and lecture spills out onto the scenic terrace when lit by daylight.

Our scvacs.org website has been redesigned and now offers greater access to ACS resources. For example, the new page for posting past events will include the information-laden presentations of our monthly speakers (when available). Our webmaster actively seeks an assistant in continuing to update the section’s website – contact us if you have or want to develop web skills.

The debut of Monterey Bay area ACS activity in April was catalyzed by an ACS Innovation Grant. With six colleges and universities, several marine research labs, and strong agricultural interests, this southern part of SCVACS territory covering Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties held a lot of potential for supporting chemistry-related events. That potential turned into action with a kick-off networking/dinner/lecture event on April 14th at Cabrillo College. Registration was so robust it had to be capped due to space limitations in Cabrillo’s Sesnon House. A heartening one-third of the attendees were students from the area’s colleges. Plans are underway for additional ACS gatherings in the Monterey Bay area, with local business sponsorship and a local organizing group. Let us know if you would like to be in on the ground floor of a Monterey Bay area ACS subsection.

In K-12 education, our recent efforts have been only modestly successful in generating interest among educators in joining the newly formed ACS American Association for Chemistry Teachers (AACT), a local campaign supported with an ACS nano grant. We surmise teachers are too strapped for time to explore these options, despite cash incentives. Our participation in the ACS Science Coaches program successfully earned an east San Jose high school $500 for classroom supplies. If you are positioned in the educational community to communicate our offers of support to teachers and community educators, please get in touch with us. Meanwhile, our annual SCVACS Teach-the-Teachers workshop with RAFT (Resource Area for Teachers) for hands-on science continues to draw a strong turnout.

Another area with less impact than hoped is programming to support small chemistry-related businesses. In two networking seminars in 2015 – Creating a Safety Culture and Protecting Your IP – turnout was low, leading us to conclude that small businesses are also too strapped for time to indulge in such extracurriculars. A different approach is being considered of partnering with established small business organizations where a subsection for chemistry-related businesses is provided by our local ACS sections. ACS National Industry Member Programs is supportive of this approach, and we particularly welcome your input positioned from local industry.

The section continues traditions such as our annual July picnic and wine-tasting at Stanford where we honor and enjoy the stories of ACS 50- and 60-year members. Saturday, July 9th, is the date of this year’s family-friendly picnic. Community response to our annual hands-on children’s activity during National Chemistry Week in San Jose’s Martin Luther King Library and at the Bay Area Science Festival in AT&T Park has been strong, and we cherish our volunteers who make them happen.  The US National and  International Chemistry Olympiads have strong representation from SF Bay area high schools, thanks in part to long-standing, dedicated SCVACS leadership.

This summary reveals we have indeed enjoyed a good deal of a positive and varied activity.  Nonetheless – we relish your fresh ideas and energy.

Get in touch!


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