Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Salt Lake City Tuesday Day 5

The day ended with the Annual Awards Banquet. It is a black tie affair for the awardees and most of the attendees as well. It is usually very elegant. There were about 37 awardees, but of that group only one African American awardee, Dr. Shirley McBay of the Quality Education for Minorities group. She is one of the women in my book and I suggested that she be nominated for the ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged students into the Chemical Sciences. She is only the 4th African American woman to win any ACS national award and I believe only one man has won an award. I am trying to work to change this. I would like to see minorities and especially African Americans be nominated and win ACS national awards for research and not just mentoring. I am working on it.
Dr. McBay gave her award talk in the Environmental Chemists Division. She talked about environmental racism and how the ACS and anyone in the community can help to change this. People of color and poor people suffer from environmental racism in that they may live near toxic waste dumps or poor air quality or just lead paint in the housing. There are groups working on the clean up. I will write the full story of her talk for the Women Chemist Newsletter and he Committee on Minority Affairs Newsletter as well.
I had breakfast with the Public Relations group of the ACS. They are going to roll out some new tools to help us and they wanted our input as to what they should do. It was a very productive meeting and many ideas were generated.
Then I went to the convention center to pick up the press release about the DNA paper as it was not in my kit. I wrote the story there in the press room.
The women chemist luncheon was held in the convention center. The speaker was the 2009 Garvan-Olin Medal winner Kathlyn Parker. She gave a talk about her life and her research.
After the luncheon I made my only visit to the exposition which was very large. I did not stay long because I would have needed my scouter to see all of it and I did not pick up the scouter that the ACS rented for me.
After Dr. McBay's talk I went to see Dr. William Carroll win the Henry Hill award. Dr. Henry Hill was the first African American ACS president back in the 70tys.
That completes the circle of my day. Tomorrow is the last full day of the meeting for me.
Jeannette Brown

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Live from Salt Lake City #2 Redefining DNA: Darwin fro the atom up

"In a dramatic rewrite of the recipe for life, scientists from Florida described the design of a new type of DNA on Monday March 23 at the 237th National Meet inf of the American Chemical Society. This artificial DNA with 12 chemical letters instead of the usual four is helping to usher in the era of personalized medicine for millions of patients with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases.

"The research may also shed light on how life arose on Earth, by producing a self-sustaining molecule capable of Darwinian evolution and reproduction, much like one that many scientists suggest arose at the dawn of life on Earth nearly four billion years ago."

This paper is COMSCI 001 "Modern synthetic biology:Darwin from the atom up" presented by Steven A. Benner Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution 1115 NW 4th Street, Gainsville, FL 32601

The main reason for this research is not to explore human evolution, but to develop multiplexed diagnostic test for viral diseases - - test that require identification and tagging of viral DNA. Old methods used regular DNA to bind and tag foreign genetic material. But natural DNA would often bind with non-disease DNA and generate confusing false positive and false negative results.
This artificial synthetic system does not operate on Watson-Crick rules, so the tagging gives more accurate results. The artificial alphabet already has been applied commercially. It is the basis of a viral load detector, which helps personalize the health care of those 400,000 patients annually infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, the cause of AIDS.

"For patients with HIV and hepatitis, the viral load detector can mean the difference between life and death"

"Brenner says that the artifical DNA system is poised to become an essential tool in genomic research. The 12 letter alphabet already luderlies new work at the National Human Genome Research Institute to connect large quantities of genomic data with human medicine."

Note: The information for this comes from a press release written by the American Chemical Society Office of Public Affairs.

Salt Lake City Monday Day 4

Technical sessions start on Sunday of any national ACS meeting but governance goes along but not as many meetings are held. Some governance meetings can't be held until all the other meetings have been held because they deal with what happened in those meetings. I am speaking of the Committee on Committees and the Council Policy Committee. Yes the ACS has a Committee on Committees (ConC). Our own Les McQuire is currently the chair of this committee. This is an elected committee that sends it's members out to all the committees to check up on the activity of those committees and the functioning of the leadership and members. They take note of the participation of the members especially of the associate members who may be considered for full membership. I went to this committee's open meeting to discuss the policy about councilor's ability to attend any open executive session of a committee as an observer. This was because the information written in the ACS program was not clear as to the definition of participation in the meeting, which I term being able to actively contribute to the meeting and just observation which I term just being in the room and seeing what goes on in the committee. When I became a councilor years ago, we were told that councilors are welcome to observe the executive sessions of a committee, so long as it was not a closed meeting, and that would be a method of becoming a member of the committee. ConC is going to clarify this information for chairs and I guess councilors.

My day started with the WCC Women in Industry Breakfast which is not only for women in industry. We are encouraging all women, and students to attend this breakfast and there was talk of changing the name of this event. At this breakfast we engaged in a networking session, in which professionals sat on one side of a long table and students on the other side. Each was given about two minutes to give their elevator speech. This exercise is benefical especially to the students as they get to know some professionals and find out about how they got their jobs. On the other hand the professionals get to coach the students in how to find a job or whatever else is going on with them at the time. In my career I got two of my jobs by networking so this is a very important skill to learn.
After breakfast I took a break until the Committee on Minority Affairs Luncheon. Actually I caught up on my blogging at that time. The Keynote speaker at this luncheon was Dr. Lakeeshia J. Taite a professor of chemical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She gave her talk about her educational background and experience in being a minority in most of her educational experience. Then she talked about her goals and research. She felt that since she was a loner most of her life that she would not be a good medical doctor, but she did want to make a difference so she went into the field of biomedical engineering. She is working on materials for cardiovacular diseases and sickel cell anemia etc, she calls it bench to bedside research! This is one of the reasons for encouraging minorities into becoming a scientist as they will work on projects that will benefit their community that maybe other researchers would not touch.
She gave some guidance to the ACS Scholars who were in the room and other students as to what she would have done differently if she were in college. I have paraphrased them:
Students should
-Prepare for international careers, by taking advantage of overseas educational opportunities
-Embrace undergraduate research opportunities
-Remember that college is for training and education much of which you will do yourself.
-Take advantage of co-op or internship opportunities
-Use your electives to expand your horizons (Note: I would suggest taking some cultural electives such as music and art and literature.)
-Strengthen their communication skills. (Note: this is very important that you do not neglect your written and verbal skills because they are needed in any job.)

I hope I have captured the essence of what she said. I will be interviewing for my book project.

That evening I went to the Leadership reception. The ACS has started a series of Leadership Courses and this reception was to launch the courses that had only been piolt courses before and congratualate the ACS members who had been trained to facilitate these courses. This reception was full of food an drinks which means I used it for supper. If you work it right you never have to pay for a dinner at an ACS meeting because there are always receptions that have food. I also noted at this reception a large number of African American chemists. This reception competed with a Diversity reception at another hotel in which you expect to see a large number of minority chemists, but they were at this reception, which I think is a good thing. Maybe the ACS striving for diversity in all things is working.

In the evening was the Sci-Mix poster session which I did not attend. This was the session invented by our own Val Kuck in which people can present posters in different divisions and there is free beer and popcorn. In the fall the Project SEED student present their work at Sci-Mix. It is a good way for undergraduates and BS and MS professional to present their work in a easy way.

Jeannette Brown

Monday, March 23, 2009

Live from ACS Salt Lake City #1 Proteins from garden pea may fight high blood pressure, kidney disease

Researchers in Canada are reporting that proteins found in a common garden pea show promise as a natural food additive or new dietary supplement for fighting high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Those potentially life-threatening conditions affect millions of people worldwide.

This study was presented at the American Chemical Society National meeting in Salt Lake City on Sunday March 22. Abstract # AGFD 002 Dr. Rotimi E. Aluko Ph.D Department of Human Nutritional Sciences at the University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Canada.

High blood pressure, for hypertension, is a major risk factor for CKD, a condition that as been affecting an increasing number of people in the United states and other countries. Estimates suggest that 13 percent of American adults --- about 26 million people --- have chronic kidney disease, up from 10 percent, or about 20 million people,in the 1990s. CKD is difficult to treat, and may progress to end-stage kidney disease that requires kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant. That situation is fostering a search for new ways of treating CKD and preserving kidney function.

Working with University of Manitoba colleague Harold Aukem, PhD., Aluko purified a mixture of small proteins -- called pea protein hydrolysate -- from the yellow garden pea. The researchers fed small daily doses of the protein mixture to laboratory rats with polycystic kidney disease, a severe form of kidney disease used as a model for research on CKD. At the end of the 8-week-long study period, the protein-fed rats with kidney disease showed a 20 percent drop in blood pressure when compared to diseased rats on a normal diet, the researches say.

To view the story about this paper please use this link:

Information for this blog was obtained from a press release written by the ACS

Salt Lake City Day 3

Wow these days are exhausting! An ACS meeting goes from Morning till night so you can get really tired. I am writing this on Monday and we have the long promised snow. It is really very light and not sticking to the ground but I hear the mountans are getting it so the skiing will be good tomorrow.
Yesterday, Sunday, was the day of the Committee on Minority Affairs meeting. We started with sub committee meetings in the morning, followed by a break and lunch and then he full committee meeting.
I am on the education sub committee and we discussed a proposal for funding of minority chemist to take a course. This will roll out next year. We also discussed who would be the next minority chemist to highlight like Percy Julian. I suggested Dr. Marie Daly the first African American women to get a PhD in chemistry. She did a lot of other things in her career. The committee will decide whether or not to chose her when they see the supporting information.
We also discussed how to get more minorities into science starting at the K-8 level. We came up with a lot of ideas to get students and parents more interested in science ssome that are already being done by local sections and some that need to be done.
CMA now has an awards sub committee to manage our awards and I hope to suggest people to nominate minorities for National Awards.
We branstomed ideas to be done at Regional meetings and came up with three, teacher workshops, networking programs, and symposia about a local minority sucess person with a take away kit for teachers. We will try to implement these programs.

The liason from the Committee on Professional Training (CPT) came to the meeting. They had run a series of Workshops with the minority groups, Native American, African American and Hispanic. The reports are on the CPT website which is reached from the ACS home page by clicking on about us,governance, committees,professional training, reports,special reports. (The url is too long to print) Our committee was asked to read the reports and comment on the action items. I reccomend that you do the same.
The Committee on persons with disabilties has a new version of the book Teaching Chemistry to Persons with Disabilities. I reccomend that every teacher have a copy of this book as it is free.
The Merck Index will be donating copies of the Merck Index to every high school in the nation. They will be distributed via the local sections so we will get some of them. I hope some of you will help me distribute these books to your children's high achool. We will give you something to distribute while you are there.

The ACS Diversity Partners are organized and have set goals for 2009. The diversity partners were featured in C&ENews a while back. I will scan the information about this group and put it on the NJACS miniority Affairs webpage. I am hopeing to get one or two of them to come to North Jersey to help organized our local section CMA group.

We learned that Project SEED has received an award for public service from the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation. The award will be given in May.

2011 will be the year of chemistry. The ACS is planning for this by printing materials in four different languages.

This is a good summary of the CMA meeting.

I went from there to the Town Hall meeting. Once a year the four people nominated by Nominations and Elections are presented at a Town Hall where they field questions about what they would do if elected ACS president. This year there are three women and one man running for ACS President elect, Dorothy Phillips, Nancy Jackson,Cheryl Maring,and Berkley Cue. Dr. Cue was ill so he was not at the Town Meeting. The three women did well. The councilors will cut the field down from four to two at the council meeting on Wednesday. I want to congratulate N & E for fielding the most diverse slate ever! Any one of them would make a good ACS president.

After the Town Hall, Councilors meet for an hour to Caucus, by region. Our region is the Middle Atlantic. Our regional director spoke to us and we also heard from Budget and Finance about the state of ACS finances and what they are going to reccomend as to what will be the dues for 2010. I will not devulge that figure now as we have not yet voted.

The 2010 MARM meeting will be held in Willmington DE in April.

After the caucus I went to the CMA open meeting and reception which served as dinner for me. After that I was shot so I went up to my room and went to bed.
It was a long day!

Jeannette Brown

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Salt Lake City Day 2

Day 2 of the meeting for me was spent at the Women Chemist Committee Meeting (WCC)over at the convention center. Since the meeting was not at the hotel where I am staying, I had to take TRAX to get there.
We now have three North Jersey women chemists besides myself who are members of that committee, Bettyanne Howson, Amber Charlebois, and Kelly George who works at Roche for my mentee Sherrie Cole. I will try to get Kelly more involved in the North Jersey local section activities. I serve as a consultant and WCC historian on that committee so I mostly sit back and observe and give the background information for current activities.
One of the members just had a baby so the baby came to the meeting and was picked up and cradled by some of the members, even the male members, during the meeting.
The highlights of the meeting were that because there are so many talks and symposia in which women are being honored or speaking, some of the members were assigned to cover the talks for the Women Chemist newsletter. I will be covering the talk by Dr. Shirley McBay who is receiving the award for Mentoring Minorities. I will also go to the award banquet in which she will receive the award. It was I that suggested that she be nominated for that award as a part of my African American women chemist project.
Speaking of the Women Chemist Newsletter, one of our North Jersey women chemists Dr. Kathryn E. Uhrich was featured in the current issue of the newsletter which is on line at
The WCC selected a women to be nominated as an ACS fellow. The deadline for nominations for ACS fellows is April 15 and the nomination information can be found on the front page of the ACS web page.
Speaking of nominations and the promotion of women, the Committee on Nominations and Elections would like to receive the names and cv's of women who could be nominated for governance positions or be future nominees, rising stars. If you have such names you could send them to the wcc staff liaison at the link on the wcc home page.
The WCC has a number of awards that it manages here are the deadlines for two of them:

Spring Awards Deadline Reminders:

Priscilla Carney Jones Scholarship, supporting an undergraduate woman entering her junior or senior year in the study of chemistry or a chemically related area. APRIL 1

Overcoming Challenges Award, recognizing overcoming hardships to pursue a degree in chemistry at a 2-year or 4-year non-PhD granting institution. MAY 1

It is also good to remember that the ACS has national awards for which women can be nominated that deadline is November 1 and the details are on the ACS home page.

The day ended with the WCC reception and open meeting in which the Salt Lake City local women chemists committee explained what they do. They are an extention of the women in chemistry group at the University of Utah.

I was going to the WCC dinner afterwards but I got invited to the career councilors dinner in my hotel which was free!

I found out that the ACS would like more Career Councilors. Career Councilors are trained to review resumees, conduct mock interviews, and counsel other chemists who are seeking their first job or a new job. They are looking for a younger more diverse group of volunteers to join the ranks. For more information about career consultants, search for it on the ACS careers page.

I have a press pass for this meeting and I picked up my credentials. There are a lot of technical papers at this meeting that are currently embargoed. I will discuss some of them when I can

Jeannette Brown

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Greetings from the Salt Lake City ACS Meeting #1

The ACS meeting is being held in Salt Lake City for the first time ever I believe. I arrived early in order to take some vacation and play. The first day (Wednesday) I took a tour of the city in a van. It was nice because there were only two of us and the other woman happened to be from Newark New Jersey! I learned a lot about this Mormon city (80%) and the other people who live here. Thursday I took a trip to Park City Utah. It is one of the near by ski areas that I skied at back when I was skiing. It was fun to wander Maine street and look at the shops. I ended the day with a late lunch at a restaurant that was right at the Town lift so I could watch the skiers coming and going or end their day of skiing. The snow was good but it is the end of ski season so Spring skiing conditions prevailed, crusty in the morning and mushy in the afternoon.
That evening I went to hear the world famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse. It was wonderful. I hope I captured it on my new toy a camcorder. I am taking the first pictures with it so we will see.

OK Let's get down to the business of chemistry. I have a press pass for this meeting so I hope to cover as much as possible and blog every night or morning as the case may be. I have more energy in the morning usually.
Yesterday was my first meeting the Joint Subcommittee on Diversity. This committee is organizing a Diversity symposium to be held on Monday morning of the Washington DC ACS meeting in August. There will be a panel of CEO's or CFO's discussion at the Committee on Minority Affairs Luncheon on that same Monday. Stay tuned for details.
At that committee meeting the two in the Presidential secession, Neal Lane and Joseph Francisco attended and asked what they could do and told us their priorities for diversity in the society.
The day ended for me at the Society Committee on Education reception.

If you are on your way to Salt Lake City you should know that they are predicting snow or rain in the valley and heavy snow in the mountains so skiing should be very good on Tuesday. They need the precipitation because of a drought situation. They get all their water from a runoff from the mountain snows and there hasn't been much snow.
Also the ACS is running shuttle buses from most of the hotels to the convention center but if your hotel is on the TRAX line, (light rail) it is free and you can use it to get to the convention center.
Les McQuire has set up a North Jersey Group in the ACS network. I urge you to join this group. The first posting is about the proposed change in high school graduation requirements. I urge you to read this as well both here in this blog and the article in the ACS Network.
So much for Day One at the ACS meeting.

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Jersey High School Graduation Requirements

The New Jersey Department of Education has changed the high school graduation requirements to make them more rigorous. The North Jersey Section Executive Committee voted to send a letter of support to them because they have included chemistry as one of the sciences. They have decided not to require a second chemistry course in all districts, but it is an option.
There was concern that the urban districts might not be able to handle this due to the lack of equipment and laboratories in some of the schools. I heard on the radio that Governor Corzine is going to use most of the stimulus funds in New Jersey for education. I don't think that will be for school construction though.
It is my idea that for urban kids who want to pursue AP chemistry they can be bussed to a suburban school that has the course. Hillsborough Township already does that for part time vo tech courses so it can be done for science. Why not? We need to think outside the box at times.
I am writing this to keep you informed about science education in this state. If you want to look at the proposed changes a summary of the changes can be found on the DOE website with a link to the full standard.
If you would like to add to the North Jersey ACS comment please contact the Chair Josepth Potenza.
You as a citizen of New Jersey also have the right to send in your own comments.
Remember quality education K-16 is important for all students and as scientists we are interested in quality science education. The ACS has science education policies which can be viewed on the ACS website. ACS Science Education Policy.
Jeannette Brown
NJACS Publicity Chair

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Do You Know This Website?

Here is a great opportunity to have your voice heard in Washington. The ACS Office of Public Policy and Communications maintains a website which will give you timely information on legislation important to the science community. It is your gateway to the LAN (Legislative Action Network), a free ACS advocacy program. As a LAN member you easily can contact your Members of Congress as relative legislation on topics like science education and R&D funding are proposed. About eight times a year you will receive email from the ACS asking you to log onto the website to send letters on pending bills. The website makes this easy and has information on how you can join many of your North Jersey colleagues as a LAN participant. Keep up to date and log into

Maureen Chan, North Jersey Government Affairs Committee

The above article will be posted in the Indicator.

I signed on to this web site as I was a member of the previous site LAN. I send out the letters to my members of congress when I get the action alert e-mails. It is really very easy as the letter has already been written for you. You can personalize the letter if you want or just send it as it is. This is the easiest way to contact your congress person and or senators about items of interest to you. They may or may not read the letter but someone on their staff will read it and I have gotten responses from them commenting on my letter.

Recently the action items have been about the stimulus plan:

"Invest in Science for our Country's Future

Dear Jeannette:

Please link to and contact your representative and senators to urge them to support the proposed investments in science research and education within the comprehensive 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The stimulus debate may be completed this week, so it is important that you act today.

As Congress debates the final details of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it is imperative that you urge your members of Congress to support strong, consistent funding for scientific research and education. This is essential to sustaining our nation's economic and scientific competitiveness in these trying times.

We need to make the case that federal investment in scientific agencies in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will help meet our nation’s long-term objectives while providing jobs in the immediate term."

In addition to the letters to congress members may visit their congress person to talk about science. I made such a trip when I was in Washington DC with a member of the ACS LAN staff. It was a lot of fun. The staff member briefed me about the ACS position and when I met my congress man I spoke about the ACS position in my own words. At the time my congressman was in a committee meeting but he left the committee to speak to me.

The members of the North Jersey Government Affairs Committee are planning a trip to visit Congressman Lance in the near future. Also a staff member of Congressman Freylinghausen is trying to set up a meeting about science here in New Jersey. Stay tuned and we will tell you the details when we know them. I once went to such a meeting that Rush Holtz had in another section. You don't have to be in the congress person's district to go to these meetings, but it helps.

So the bottom line is that you can make a difference with legislation so become active in LAN.

The ACS Network

Are you in the ACS Network? It is getting better and better all the time. To register for the network all you have to do is to log into the ACS web page Then log in to the site. If you have not logged in you can register to log in. The ACS has information about you including your ACS membership number name and address. Once you have logged in the scroll down the home page til you see ACS Network. Click on that and you will see another page that says access the network and voila there you are.
Once there you can complete your profile, add a photo of yourself and scroll the members who are already in the network and invite your friends to be part of your network. At this point I have no idea what you do with your network but at least you will have it for future use. There are now discussions which you can join or start.
I have been playing a game called Chemical History. You add names of people or things in history starting with the last letter of the last post. At least that were the original rules. There have been deviations from this. But it is fun to do. There is a discussion about"Chemist Celebrate Earthday" which is coming up soon There are other ongoing discussions about the Stimulus plan about Obama plans for science, about science in general about the upcoming ACS meeting in Salt Lake City etc. If you don't see anything you want to respond to, you can start your own discussion.
Les McQuire has asked the members of the Executive Committee to investigate the network and see how it can be improved. I am going to throw this out to you to help make the network better.
Here is his notice to us:

Try the following:

Log in to the Network via the ACS Home Page.

Click on one of your Divisions or your section (i.e. North Jersey). This pulls up a lot of names, try clicking through the list (click "next") it can very slow to pull up the next 10 people. What is your experience? What happens if you switch to 50 or 100 names per page.

Pick someone you know and invite them to join your network. How quickly does this happen?

Use the search feature, pull down the "governance" option: there are multiple duplication of positions and I feel too many classifications (Chair-elect, Chair etc). Pick one of the categories and search. Is it clear why the search found the people it did (I think people are unsure how to classify themselves).

Play with the network for a few minutes - any comments, does it work well?

I think his could be a very useful tool for ACS and our members but we need to know about and address any issues.

If you have any problems with this network you can post your comments to this blog. We can help to make it better.

Jeannette Brown
NJACS Publicity Chair