American Chemical Society chief executive officer announces his retirement

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2022 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) today announced that Thomas Connelly, Ph.D., will retire from his position as ACS chief executive officer at the end of the year after more than seven years of serving in this role. In addition to effectively navigating the organization through the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, he has led the organization as it strengthened its core values, transformed its membership and launched new initiatives.

Thomas Connelly
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

“Tom has provided strong leadership for ACS throughout his tenure, especially over the past two years as we experienced a once in a lifetime challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With his guidance, ACS has weathered the pandemic and is now stronger than it’s ever been,” says Paul W. Jagodzinski, Ph.D., chair of the ACS Board of Directors. “We look forward to Tom’s continued leadership through the rest of 2022 and wish him all the best as he enters the next chapter of his life in 2023.”

Connelly joined ACS in 2015. He has overseen the refinement and expansion of ACS core values, which define the principles that guide the organization. During his tenure, the core value of professionalism was expanded to include safety and ethics. Additionally, the core value of diversity, inclusion and respect added equity as a key principle. He also guided a transformation of membership by increasing the focus on growing ACS’ international efforts as well as supporting the development of a new membership model, which launched this year. Most recently, Connelly led the effort to establish four strategic initiatives designed to have a transformational impact on the chemistry enterprise. The more than $50 million, multiyear effort embodies ACS’ commitment to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people.

“It has been an honor to serve as ACS CEO for more than seven years,” Connelly says. “ACS continues to advance its Vision and Mission through the efforts of our dedicated staff and wonderful volunteers. I look forward to continuing my service to ACS from within its membership ranks.”

Prior to joining ACS, Connelly had a 37-year distinguished career at DuPont Company, where he held the roles of chief science and technology officer and chief innovation officer during his tenure. Connelly holds chemical engineering and economics degrees from Princeton University. As a Winston Churchill Scholar, he received his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He has served in advisory roles to the U.S. Government and the Republic of Singapore.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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ACS Newsroom                                                           Emily Abbott                                          

Summer Social Event

We hope you have had a healthy and productive year so far and are ready for the official start of summer. In this bulletin we would like to bring to your attention an exciting summer social events that our section is organizing. To honor our 50th, 60th and 70th year ACS members and celebrate the 95th anniversary of The ACS Women Chemists Committee, the ACS Orlando Local Section is organizing a Summer Social Event

on Saturday, June 25th, 2022 
(stating at 11:30 AM)
at the Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
529 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828

Apart from socializing, the award ceremony to recognize our senior members, we are very pleased to announce that Dr. Christina Drake of Kismet Technologies will give a short talk about the bacterial and viral transmissions in hospitals, a topic that is so important in the current COVID era.  

Also, this time the ACS Orlando section will subsidize part of the meal cost, so our members will have to pay only $25 out-of-pocket for a three-course meal. The location can accommodate only 42 people, so early registration is highly encouraged. Please follow the link below to register for the event. The registration deadline is June 15th.

Registration link:

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.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Best wishes,|
Dr. Denisia Popolan-Vaida
Chair of ACS Orlando Section
On behalf of the ACS Orlando Local Section executive committee

Younger Chemist Committee (YCC): Let’s ignite the hunger while we are younger!

The Younger Chemist Committee (YCC) of the Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society is established with a mission to advocate for, develop, and support rising chemists to positively impact their careers, the ACS, and the future of chemistry. We aim to build a community that will welcome budding chemists to seek guidance, voice concerns, and hone various technical and social skills. We hold with high regard the idea of networking and job-seeking and will organize events to reach those goals. The local section YCC works close-knit with the local section ACS making them unique from other clubs with similar goals. 

Starting in 2022, the Committee is led by Mohammed Muzammil Nishar Ahmed (Mill), a graduate student from Florida Institute of Technology. The committee is currently looking for interested individuals to help structure the board so that the club can get the ball rolling for its endeavors. The board positions include a chair, secretary, treasurer, engagement team, interface team, and communications team. If you or someone you know would like to contribute to the activities of the YCC, please connect with us via facebook or email us at

March 2022’s Newsletter

Hello Orlando Section!

In the first bulletin of the year, we would like to bring to your attention a few important information:

  • Executive committee members: The members of the 2022 Executive Committee of the Orlando Section are:
    • Chair: Denisia Popolan-Vaida
    • Chair elect: Nicole Lapeyrouse
    • Intermediate Past Chair: Duy Le
    • Councilor: Darlene Slattery
    • Alternate Councilor: Laura Session
    • Treasurer: Van Quach
    • Secretary: Pavithra Pathirathna
  • It is with mixed feelings that the Executive Committee announces that our 2022 Chair-Elect, Dr. Christopher Chouinard will be leaving Florida Tech for a new position out of state.  While we wish him well, we will miss his enthusiasm and hard work for the section.
  • Executive meeting – Our local section executive meeting is scheduled on the second Saturday of each month from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM via Zoom. We would like to renew our invitation to all our members to attend the meeting. If you are interested in joining our meeting, please do not hesitate to contact us for zoom link and meeting agenda.
  • Travel awards – We would liketo remind you thatour local sectionoffers annual travel awards (up to 2 awards/meeting) for ACS student members to attend ACS local, regional, and national meetings (FAME, SERMAC, ACS National Meeting) to present their work. More details about the application procedure can be find on our website.
  • Chemists Celebrate Earth Week (CCEW): To promote the positive role that chemistry plays in the world, ACS established the Chemists Celebrate Earth Week public awareness campaign. This year, CCEW occurs on April 17–23 with the theme “he Buzz About Bugs: Insect Chemistry”. The Orlando Section participates in the following activities:
    • Distributing CCEW 2022 Celebrating Chemistry:  Celebrating Chemistry is designed to engage and educate children ages 9–12 (Grades 4–6) in the basic principles of chemistry. The publication is available in English and Spanish and can be found on our website. We encourage you to share the publication to anyone who may be interested.
    • 2022 Illustrated Poem Contest: The Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is hosting an illustrated poem contest for K-12 students. Entries must be sponsored by a local school or community group for verification purposes. The contest deadline is Sunday, April 24, 2022 at 11:59 PM Eastern. The submissions should be emailed to The theme of this year’s contest is “The Buzz About Bugs: Insect Chemistry.” One winner for each category will be recognized with a monetary ($ 50) award. The teacher of each winner will also be awarded with funding ($100) for classroom supplies. Please visit our website or contact Dr. Duy Le ( for more information. 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 win prizes! We encourage you to share the Flyer with K12’s students and teachers that you may know and to spread the message via social media.
    • Participating in Central Florida Earth day: We have secured our presence in Central Florida Earth day at Lake Eola (on April 23rd, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM). In this event, we will distribute merchandises, materials about the Earth Day and perform chemistry demonstrations. Dr. Titel Jurca (UCF, will lead this event. Please contact him if you are interested in volunteer for this event.
  • We are seeking volunteers: We are actively seeking volunteers to participate/lead our local section’s activities and be appointed to several committees: Earth Day outreach, National Chemistry Week, Senior Chemists, Younger Chemists, Webmaster… Contact us if you are or know someone who is interested.
  • Subscribe to our community page, follow our facebook page, and check out our website for updated news, activities of our local section.

Best wishes,
Dr. Denisia Popolan-Vaida
Chair of the Orlando Section of the ACS
On behalf of the Orlando Section executive committee

30 Year Anniversary of the Section

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society. The celebration of this milestone will happen at our annual award banquet on December 4th, 2021 at the 310 Lakeside restaurant (301 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801).*

We will have moments to look back at the history of our section and to highlight “what-they-are-doing-now” of the award winners at the early days. Each participant will also receive a special and long-lasting souvenir (while supply lasts).

Reservation can be made online at, or by sending email to or calling Darlene Slattery at 321-632-2535. Reservations must be made by November 22, 2021 (New deadline).   Please include names so that we can provide nametags.

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.

Please join us to celebrate the history of our local section and recognize excellence in chemistry!

* All guests are expected to follow safety guidelines of the restaurant on the day of the event. For more information, please visit

Annual Election: Meet the Candidates for 2022 Executive Committee

Dr. Christopher Chouinard
Candidate for Chair-Elect

Dr. Christopher Chouinard is currently an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at Florida Institute of Technology. His research involves novel ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IM-MS) methods for the detection of illicit substances including performance-enhancing drugs. He received his BS degrees in Chemistry and Biology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Florida, and did post-doctorial studies in IM-MS instrument development at Pacific Northwest National Lab.

Dr. Chouinard has served on the ACS Orlando Section executive committee (Chair-Elect/Chair/Past Chair) continuously since 2019. Most recently, he spearheaded the Section’s successful bid to host the 2025 Southeastern Regional Meeting of the ACS (SERMACS), for which he will be serving as General Chair. This will be the first time the meeting is held in Florida since 1987.

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.

Dr. Pavithra Pathirathna
Candidate for Secretary

Dr. 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.

Dr. Laura Sessions
Candidate for Alternate Councilor

Dr. Sessions was born and raised in Winter Park, FL. She received undergraduate and graduate degrees from University of Florida and Dartmouth College, respectively. She has taught at Valencia College for the past eleven years, also serving as Department Chair, on the Faculty Association Council, and in multiple endowed chair awards. Dr. Sessions has enjoyed volunteering with the ACS Orlando section since 2015 in several positions including Alternate Councilor, Awards Chair, and Chair and would look forward to continuing her service this year as Alternate Councilor

Fast or Slow…Chemistry Makes It Go

Join the ACS Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society and Orlando Science Center for a community event for National Chemistry Week and celebrate the importance of chemistry in everyday life! Learn about this year’s theme, Fast or Slow…Chemistry Makes It Go, from UCF and FIT faculty and students with 15 exciting activities.

Annual Awards Banquet Invitation

The Orlando Section of the American Chemical Society will recognize 2021 awards winners in a traditional annual awards banquet on December 4th, 2021. You are invited to attend the banquet:

Saturday, December 4th, 2021
11:30AM to 2:00PM
At the 310 Lakeside restaurant
301 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801

Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Bruschetta
Fried Green Tomato – pimento spread, bacon jam, chives
Signature Salad
Mixed Greens grape tomatoes, cucumbers, shaved onion, house made balsamic vinaigrette
Entrée choice of
Pasta Primavera seasonal vegetables, grana padano cheese
Chicken Piccata white wine, butter, capers, lemon sauce garlic mash, seasonal vegetable
Salmon tomato bruschetta, balsamic glaze garlic mash, seasonal vegetable
Oreo Cream Trifle
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, or by sending email to or calling Darlene Slattery at 321-632-2535. Reservations must be made by November 20, 2021.   Please include names so that we can provide nametags.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Annual Election: Call for 2022 Executive Board Candidates & Voting

We are seeking interested individuals to join the Orlando Section Executive Committee in 2022! We have four positions up for election: Chair Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and Alternate Councilor. A description of each position is included below. Please contact Dr. Denisia Popolan-Vaida (, Nominating Committee Chair, with any additional questions.

All nominations (including name of nominee, contact information, and nominated position) must be notified to Dr. Denisia Popolan-Vaida (via email at by October 15th, 2021. Voting is expected to open on October 25th, when you will receive a separate email with the instructions on how to cast your votes electronically. Please let us know before October 15th 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

Alternate Councilor (three-year term). The main responsibilities are:
• To attend national meeting annually (if Councilor is not able), 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

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

If you know someone or companies 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 local Section’s annual banquet held on December 4th, 2021.  Student nominees need not be currently enrolled in chemistry but can be nominated for achievements for the spring 2021 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. Email PDF letters to Dr. Darlene Slattery, Chair of the Orlando Section Awards Committee at To be considered, nominations must be received by Friday November 5th, 2021 Monday November 8th, 2021 .

Nominators of awardees are expected to participate in the local Section’s annual banquet to introduce the awardees.

* Point of contact for nominated company must be included in the letter.