2024 US National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO)

Dear Chemistry Colleague,

As 2023 Chair of the Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS), I am pleased to announce that the Orlando section will be participating in the 2024 US National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO). The primary goals of this program are to stimulate interest and achievement in chemistry among high school students throughout the United States and to provide recognition of outstanding young chemistry students, teachers, and schools.

Students competing in the USNCO are eligible to be selected as members of the United States team for the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO). For the past 35 years, the United States has sent a team of four students to compete with nations around the world at IChO. The students participate in both theoretical and laboratory examinations over several days. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to the best performers and the IChO provides students the opportunity to interact with their peers from other countries.

My immediate task is to encourage you and your students to participate in this program. New this year, is our partnership with Dr. Luca Argenti, from the physics department at UCF. In high school, Luca was part of the Italian team at the IChO, where he earned a silver and a gold medal. He will be offering sessions for students, both online and in person, to help prepare students for the exam.

It is the responsibility of the Orlando section to nominate students from the local area to take the USNCO national examination. In order to identify these students, the Orlando section is conducting a preliminary screening of students through the high school chemistry faculty in our area. The national exam involves three phases, administered to more than 1000 students. The first exam is done in the high school chemistry class organized by the high school instructor for nominated students. This can take place anytime during the month of March. Exams will be mailed to the high school instructor in late February. Exam answer sheets are emailed or mailed back to the Olympiad coordinator by March 30, 2024

Ten (10) students (maximum of 2 students from each high school) will be chosen, based on the second round scores, to take part in an all-day chemistry practical at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Room 404. This is an all-day theoretical and practical exam, running from 8:30 AM-3:00 PM. Students will be notified in early April if they are selected for this second round of testing. Students can view study resources and view past exams at www.acs.org/olympiad.

I encourage your school to participate in this academic Olympiad. All students who participate will be recognized and presented with a certificate and pin. The top 150 students will receive recognition for outstanding performance at the national level. Also, any student making it to the third round of testing in Washington, DC in May, can be sponsored by the Orlando Section for travel. The local Orlando section hopes this recognition will stimulate interest in chemistry and promote a positive attitude toward chemistry.

Mary Roslonowski has been appointed the USNCO coordinator for this area. We encourage you to nominate students from your school to this competition by completing and returning the enclosed registration form on or before Jan 19, 2024 to Mary Roslonowski at mroslonowski@htes.org. If you would like your students to participate in the chemistry enrichment sessions with Dr. Argenti, please email Mary as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact her at 321-243-6198. Thank you for helping to promote chemical education in the US.


Nicole Lapeyrouse

2023 Chair, Orlando Section ACS

Important information

Annual Awards Banquet Invitation

The Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society will recognize 2023 awards winners in a traditional annual awards banquet on December 2nd, 2023. You are invited to attend the banquet:

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
11:30AM to 2:00PM
At the 310 Lakeside
301 East Pine Street, Orlando, FL 32801

Stuffed Mushroom – sausage, spinach, parmesan
Fried Green Tomato – pimento spread, bacon jam, chives
Tomato and Mozzarella Skewer – fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic glaze
Entrée choice of
Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken
Pasta Primavera
seasonal vegetables, grana padano cheese
Chicken Piccata
white wine, butter, capers, lemon sauce
tomato bruschetta, balsamic glaze
Iced tea, soft beverages, and Illy coffee
Cash bar is available

The cost will be $25/person (after subsidy, tax and gratuity included)The Section will pay the bill with a single check. Please be prepared to pay at the door by check or cash—unfortunately we cannot accept credit cards.

Reservation can be made online at https://forms.gle/ppkK4WM5aHDQDFu88, or by email to Nicole.lapeyrouse@ucf.edu. Reservations must be made by November 26, 2023.   Please include names so that we can provide nametags.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Annual Election: Meet the Candidates for 2024 Executive Committee

We are excited to announce the candidates for 2024 Executive Committee of the Orlando Section. Voting is expected to open on November 6th, 2023, when you will receive a separate email with the instructions on how to cast your votes electronically and will close on November 20th, 2023.

Dr. Brian Mosby
Candidate for Chair-Elect

Dr. Mosby is heavily invested in the development of students and participation in the scientific community. On campus he serves as the faculty advisor of the Rollins ACS student chapter and the coordinator for the general chemistry Peer Supplemental Instructor program.  He is a longtime member of NOBCChE and has served on the national level as a member of  the conference national planning committee (NPC) business development committee, technical sessions committee, and has served as the co-chair for the NPC on two occasions. Dr. Mosby is eager to continue his service through contributions to the Orlando Section as chair-elect.

Dr. Laura Sessions
Candidate for Councilor

Dr. Sessions hails from Winter Park, FL, where she spent her formative years. She holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees, having earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her doctorate degree from Dartmouth College. Over the last thirteen years, she has been a dedicated educator at Valencia College, taking on various roles such as Department Chair and actively participating on the Faculty Association Council. Dr. Sessions has been recognized for her commitment to teaching with multiple endowed chair awards.

Notably, Dr. Sessions has been a devoted volunteer within the ACS Orlando section since 2015, contributing her expertise in various capacities, including Alternate Councilor, Awards Chair, and Chair. Her commitment to the organization extends to her appointment to the ACS Budget & Finance Committee for 2023-2024, where she plays a vital role in overseeing the organization’s financial strategies. Dr. Sessions has also demonstrated her interest in the new officer position by attending the recent council and caucus meetings in San Francisco to gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the organization and the role of councilor.

Leveraging her leadership experience and consistent dedication to the ACS, Dr. Sessions would be pleased to extend her service to the Orlando Section as a Councilor.

Dr. Pavithra Pathirathna
Candidate for Secretary

Pavithra Pathirathna is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology. She performed her undergraduate studies at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, and her Ph.D. with Parastoo Hashemi in the Department of Chemistry at Wayne State University, MI, USA. Her postdoctoral work was at the University of Pittsburgh with Shigeru Amemiya. Pavithra’s interdisciplinary and translational research program centers on developing and optimizing electrochemical sensors for analyzing biologically and environmentally impactful metals and neurotransmitters with applications in point of care diagnostics. Some of her prestigious distinctions include Honor Citation for Teaching Service and Esther and Stanley Kirschner General Chemistry Teaching Award. Besides her scholarly and teaching activities, Pavithra has been serving as the secretary of the ACS Orlando section since 2021 and a reviewer and a co-editor of several journals.

Dr. Van Quach
Candidate for Treasurer

Dr. Van Quach has been the treasurer of the Orlando Section since 2019.  In addition, he is a professor of chemistry at Seminole State College.  He has been teaching there since Aug 2010.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Florida in 1999.  After taking some time off for travel, he made his way up to Tallahassee, FL to start graduate school.  At Florida State University, his research focused on better understanding of the theoretical and fundamental processes that occur during chemical separation.  Specifically, he investigated the temperature dependence of the phase ration in liquid chromatography systems.  He received his Ph.D. in 2009 and taught for two years at FSU before returning to the central Florida area to teach at Seminole State College.  In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, reading, and drinking good wines.

2023 NCW Illustrated Poem Contest: The Healing Power of Chemistry

The Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is hosting an illustrated poem contest for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Entries must be sponsored by a local school or community group for verification purposes.

Contest_Deadline:Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 11:59 PM Eastern
Local Prizes: One winner will be awarded ($50) for each of the flowing categories:
Grades K-2     Grades 3-5     Grades 6-8     Grades 9-12
The teacher who guided the winner will receive a small funding ($100) for classroom supplies.
Local Contact:Duy Le (submission@orlandoacs.org)
Submission:Illustrated poem and submission form must be submitted to https://forms.gle/R4Ug1TrzBDRwkenn6
or emailed to submission@orlandoacs.org

Winners of the Orlando Section’s Illustrated Poem Contest will advance to the National Illustrated Poem Contest for a chance to be featured on the ACS website and to win prizes!

How to participate:

Write and illustrate a poem using the NCE theme, “The Healing Power of Chemistry.” Your poem must be no more than 40 words and in the following styles to be considered:


Possible topics related to the theme include:

  • Skin anatomy and care
  • Vaccines
  • Wound healing
  • Zoopharmacognosy
  • Antibiotics
  • Antibodies
  • Bandages
  • Immune system
  • Medications
  • Pathogens

Entries will be judged based upon:

  • Artistic Merit – use of color, quality of drawing, design & layout
  • Poem Message – fun, motivational, inspiring about yearly theme
  • Originality Creativity – unique, clever and/or creative design
  • Neatness – free of spelling and grammatical errors

Contest rules:

·   All poems must be no more than 40 words, and in one of the following styles to be considered: Haiku, Limerick, Ode, ABC poem, Free verse, End rhyme, and Blank verse.
·   Entries are judged based upon relevance to and incorporation of the NCW theme, word choice and imagery, colorful artwork, adherence to poem style, originality and creativity, and overall presentation.
·   All entries must be original works without aid from others. Poems may be submitted by hand on an unlined sheet of paper not larger than 11” by 14” or scanned and sent via email. Illustrations may be created using crayons, watercolors, other types of paint, colored pencils, or markers. The illustration may also be electronically created by using a digital painting and drawing app on a computer, tablet, or mobile device.
·   The text of the poem should be easy to read and may be typed before the hand-drawn or digital illustration is added, or the poem may be written on lined paper, which is cut out and pasted onto the unlined paper with the illustration.
·   No clipart or unoriginal images can be used.
·   Only one entry per student will be accepted; all entries must include an entry form. If the illustration is created using a digital painting or drawing app, the name of the program must be included on the entry form.
·   Acceptance of prizes constitutes consent to use winners’ first name, and entry for editorial, advertising, and publicity purposes.
·   Do not place participant names on the front of your poem.

Download submission form and this flyer.

Examples (2023 National winners)

Annual Election: Call for 2024 Executive Board Candidates & Voting

We are seeking interested individuals to join the Orlando Section Executive Committee in 2024! We have four positions up for election: Chair Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and Councilor. A description of each position is included below. Please contact Dr. Stephen Smith (stephensmith@fit.edu), Nominating Committee Chair, with any additional questions.

All nominations (including name of nominee, contact information, and nominated position) must be notified to Dr. Stephen Smith (via email at stephensmith@fit.edu) by October 13th, 2023. Voting is expected to open on October 24th, when you will receive a separate email with the instructions on how to cast your votes electronically. Please let us know before October 13th, 2023 if you would like to be mailed a paper copy ballot.


Chair Elect (one-year term; three-year term total). The main responsibilities are:

  • To vote/participate in exec decisions
  • Succeed to office of Chair for the next year
  • Serve as chair for meetings which the Chair cannot attend

Treasurer (one-year term).  The main responsibilities are:

  • Prepare the annual budget/expenditures report for Nationals
  • Maintain the Section bank account
  • Maintain a budget, disbursements, expenditures, and accounting for the Section activities
  • To vote/participate in exec decisions

Secretary (one-year term).  The main responsibilities are:

  • To take notes at exec meetings
  • To set-up and distribute ballots for elections (mostly electronic now)
  • Oversee website and social media communications
  • To vote/participate in exec decisions

Councilor (three-year term).  The main responsibilities are:

  • To attend national meeting annually, represent the Section, and report back activities
  • Assist in preparing and submitting the annual report to the national office
  • To vote/participate in exec decisions

Call for Annual Awards Nominations

Since 1991, the Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society has recognized individuals who live, work, or study in the seven-county region of the Orlando Section and excel in chemistry. Continuing this tradition this year, the Orlando Section will give the following awards:

  • Eileen Tulley Award for Outstanding High School Student
  • Outstanding High School Teacher
  • Outstanding Undergraduate at a Primarily Teaching Institution
  • Outstanding Undergraduate at a Primarily Research Institution
  • Outstanding Graduate at a Primarily Research Institution
  • Outstanding Educator at a Primarily Teaching Institution
  • Outstanding Educator at a Primarily Research Institution
  • Outstanding Chemist
  • Outstanding Chemistry Professional
  • Outstanding Entrepreneur/Employer Award
  • Outstanding Volunteer

Descriptions and criteria for each award can be found in our website at https://orlandoacs.org/annual-awards

If you know someone or a company who should be recognized publicly, please nominate them for an ACS Orlando Section award. Each Award consists of a plaque and a monetary award. Awardees will be honored at the annual banquet held on December 3, 2023. Student nominees need not be currently enrolled in chemistry but can be nominated for achievements for the spring 2023 term.

Nomination package includes:
(1) A letter of nomination stating why this person/company* deserves the award.
(2) A letter of support from someone else who knows the nominee.

Each letter should include the name of the award, and the writer’s email address, and daytime phone number. Electronic submissions are required here: https://valenciacc.ut1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bDBBTN2cVoidkgK

• Nominations must be received by 5pm Friday November 3, 2023.
• Nominators of awardees are expected to participate in the Orlando Section’s annual banquet to introduce the awardees.
• Please address any questions to Dr. Laura Sessions, Chair of the Orlando Section Awards Committee, at lsessions@valenciacollege.edu.
* Point of contact for nominated company must be included in the letter.

Volunteer opportunities

Hello Orlando Section!

In this bulletin, we would like to bring to your attention a couple important opportunities for members and highlight some accomplishments:

  • Call for Volunteers for the Awards Committee: The Orlando Section is currently in search of individuals willing to contribute to the Awards Committee. Annually, our section grants awards totaling more than $3,000 to honor the outstanding contributions of chemists and chemistry students within our local community.
  • Orlando Section wins ChemLuminary Award: The Orlando Section received the ChemLuminary Award for Outstanding Community Involvement in National Chemistry Week at the ACS Fall 2023 Meeting in San Francisco. National Chemistry Week celebrates the importance of chemistry in everyday life. On October 22, 2022, about 400 attendees were able to participate in experiments related to the theme: Fabulous Fibers, The Chemistry of Fabrics. 
  • Call for Volunteers for National Chemistry Week event at OSC: Look for us at the Orlando Science Center again for National Chemistry Week celebrations on Saturday, October 21, 2023. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Denisia.Popolan-Vaida@ucf.edu.

You can read more about these fantastic events and see pictures on our website and social media linked below.

Best wishes,

Dr. Nicole Lapeyrouse
Chair of the Orlando Section of the ACS
On behalf of the Orlando Section executive committee

Please don’t forget to subscribe to our community page, follow our facebook pageand check out our website for updated news, and activities of our local section.

Call for Volunteers for the Awards Committee

The Orlando Section is currently in search of individuals willing to contribute to the Awards Committee. Annually, our section grants awards exceeding a total of $3,000 to honor the outstanding contributions of chemists and chemistry students within our local community.

The committee’s commitment involves a brief initial Zoom meeting, followed by asynchronous evaluation of nomination letters during the week of November 4-10. If this opportunity piques your interest, kindly send a brief statement of your intent to the Awards Chair no later than September 29, 2023: Dr. Laura Sessions lsessions@valenciacollege.edu.

Travel Awards

In 2023, the Orlando Section awarded $1600 for five students to travel to on the following scientific meetings: the spring and fall ACS National Meetings in Indianapolis and San Francisco and the 99th Florida Annual Meeting and Exposition (FAME) conference in Plam Harbor.

Angelo Cinque, an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Nicole Lapyrouse’s group at UCF, attended the Fall 2023 National Meeting. He is evaluating the efficacy of the integration of an adaptive learning system, Mastery Paths, in a CHM 2045C classroom. The research team aims to code qualitative data to understand students’ perceptions and attitudes towards Mastery Path and look at relationships between students’ course performance and their use of the platform. He presented his research and discussed with participants from around the country studying similar topics. He enjoyed listening to other presenters including presentations expanding beyond his research topic. He writes, ‘Overall, it was an unforgettable experience and an important milestone in my academic journey. Thank you so much for the opportunity to go to Fall ACS.’.

The Orlando Section no longer accepts applications for travel awards for 2023. Please check back in 2024 for new opportunities for your students: https://orlandoacs.org/2023-student-travel-awards/

About Student Travel Awards: The Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society offers travel awards to students who are in need of financial supplement for their conference participations. Click here for more information about the awards and how to apply.

    Orlando Sections Travel Awards – Summer 2023

    Travel awards from the Orlando Section of the ACS assisted two students in Dr. Denisia Popolan-Vaida’s research group at University of Central Florida to attend the 99th Florida Annual Meeting and Exposition (FAME) conference from June 1 – 3, 2023. Arden Floyd and Alec DeCecco received $150 each.

    Arden Floyd gave a poster presentation on her research titled “Cloud Condensation Nuclei Activity of Fresh and Aged Maleic Acid Aerosol Particles”. She gained new perspective on her work thanks to the insightful questions of the FAME attendees. She was introduced to exciting fields of chemistry by the excellent and diverse presentations she attended and was able to forge new friendships and professional connections with like-minded chemists from across the state of Florida. She is a chemistry major at the University of Central Florida who will be graduating in Spring 2024. She looks forward to next year’s 100th anniversary of FAME.

    Alec DeCecco, a Ph.D. student at the University of Central Florida, has just completed his first year of study on combustion research. He writes that his experience at ACS FAME was fantastic. He shared his research with others and received really interesting questions that lead to great conversations. Attending presentations gave him insight into some of the cutting-edge research going on in the field of chemistry and he was able to learn a lot. He found the conference attendees to be very friendly and had a lot of fun meeting people and hearing about their research. He gives his thanks to the section for granting him the travel award that made this whole experience possible.

    Congratulations and good work, Arden and Alec!

    About Student Travel Awards: The Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society offers travel awards to students who are in need of financial supplement for their conference participations. Click here for more information about the awards and how to apply.