February 2016 - ACS Axial | ACS Publications

Life in the Lab: Understanding Accidents With Mary Beth Mulcahy

When a serious safety incident occurs in a lab, investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are called in to help figure out what went wrong. Sound like something out of an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation? Mary Beth Mulcahy, Ph.D, an investigator at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, says her job isn’t like what you might see on TV. The inves1tigations are methodical, but they also include a significant human element, such as interviewing witnesses.

Mulcahy says she never knows what a day on the job may bring. She could be in the field collecting evidence or looking for an outside expert to help with the investigation. She could be back in the office, pouring over data to understand why an accident occurred. On occasion, the job calls for her to meet family members or attend funerals related to accidents under investigation.

Ultimately, those human connections are what drive Mulcahy to excel. “You’re analyzing a chemical, but you’re not analyzing the chemical for the data. You’re analyzing the chemical for the family members who’ve lost people,” she says.

Watch Mulcahy share her experiences and offer advice for people who might be interested in working for the CSB:

Watch more videos on the American Chemical Society YouTube page.

ACS Editors’ Choice: Antarctic Lead, “Drug-Initiated” Delivery Systems — and More!

This week: Lead contamination in Antartica, a new anode material for lithium-ion batteries and a look at “drug-initiated” medication delivery systems — and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!


Discovery of Clinical Development Candidate GDC-0084, a Brain Penetrant Inhibitor of PI3K and mTOR

ACS Med. Chem. Lett., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.6b00005



New Chelators for Low Temperature Al18F-Labeling of Biomolecules

Bioconjugate Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.6b00012


Potential Application of Metal Dichalcogenides Double-Layered Heterostructures as Anode Materials for Li-Ion Batteries

J. Phys. Chem. C, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b11677


Minimalist Protein Engineering of an Aldolase Provokes Unprecedented Substrate Promiscuity

ACS Catal., 2016, 6, pp 1848–1852
DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.5b02805


Nonlinear Optical Response of Organic–Inorganic Halide Perovskites

ACS Photonics, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acsphotonics.5b00563


Drug-Initiated Synthesis of Polymer Prodrugs: Combining Simplicity and Efficacy in Drug Delivery

Chem. Mater., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.5b04281


Lead Sources to the Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica

Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b05151



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2 ACS Editors Share in Dan David Prize

A. Paul Alivisatos & Chad Mirkin

A. Paul Alivisatos, Founding Editor of Nano Letters & Chad Mirkin, Associate Editor of JACS

Each year the Dan David Foundation awards three prizes of $1 million each to individuals or institutions that have made remarkable contributions in three categories: past, present, and future. This year, the winners of the “future” prize will include A. Paul Alivisatos, founding editor of Nano Letters, and Chad Mirkin, Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Both researchers also serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of ACS Nano.

While the foundation’s “past” prize honors those who have improved our knowledge of days gone by and the “present” prize recognizes those who increase our understanding of today’s world, the “future” prize is given for work that will fuel further advancements in years to come. Alivisatos was honored for his pioneering work in nanotechnology, including being the first to synthesize semiconductor nanocrystals for use as fluorescent probes. The foundation recognized Mirkin for his work developing methods to control the architecture of molecules and materials at the nanoscale and using these structures in analytical tools with broad applications.

The award comes with an unusual stipulation. Recipients of the Dan David Foundation awards donate 10% of their winnings to graduate students in their fields in order to ensure the prize helps fund the next wave of breakthroughs.

The prize is the second major award of 2016 for Alivisatos who was announced to be the recipient of the 2016 National Medal of Science in January.

Learn more about the research of Chad Mirkin and A. Paul Alivisatos.

C&EN Roundup: Ultralow-Power Computing, CO2 Capture, and Combat Zone Treatments

Chemical & Engineering News covers the world of chemistry, from research and education to business and policy. Here’s a sampling of their coverage of research from ACS journals:


Nanoparticle Clotting Agent Could Save Soldiers, Even in Extreme Heat

An injectable blood-clotting agent can save a wounded soldier’s life, but the extreme temperatures common in many combat zones can cause these compounds to break down. A new nanoparticle with a polylactic acid core may offer hope, however. The nanoparticles doubled the survival rate in rats with traumatic liver injuries, even after being heated to 50 °C for a week.


Bioreactor Efficiency Could Get a Boost From Genetically-Modified E. Coli

Most people want as little E. coli in their lives as possible. But now researchers are working to improve the bacteria’s ability to survive high temperatures, which would allow bioreactors to operate more efficiently. Using a gene circuit to activate a number of advantageous traits under certain circumstances, researchers were able to create a version of the bacteria that were better at regulating heat stress and cell density, while improving lysine production.



Allergy Research Points to Need for More Personalized Treatment

Dust mite allergies are incredibly common but not all dust mite allergies are the same, since different people may be allergic to different allergens in the mites. As a result, a deeper understanding of how genetics and geography affect allergies is needed. Researchers found new dust mite allergens that affect a group of Thai patients, but not other previously studied populations. A more nuanced understanding of allergens could pave the way to more personalized treatments, researchers say.


Turning Spruce Cones into Carbon-Capture Sorbents

Carbon-capture technology is an important part of fighting climate change, but the substances used to remove CO2 from smokestack emissions tend to be expensive to produce. In a bid to lower the cost of reducing carbon emissions, researchers developed a new sorbent made from Norway spruce cones that have been carbonized and activated with potassium hydroxide. In lab tests, the cone-based sorbent absorbed about the same amount of CO2 as commonly-used metal organic frameworks, but the cone-based sorbent was more selective for CO2 and less expensive to produce.


Low-Power Computing’s Future May Lie in Nanomagnets

Nanomagnets could someday replace transistors in the processors of a new generation of low-power computers. Using a chain of stress-gated nanomagnets, researchers built a basic logic gate that can perform a simple processing task while using less energy than a conventional transistor. Attempts at magnet-based processing have been made before but this new device uses mechanical stress, instead of an electric field, to switch the magnet’s orientation, offering significant potential energy savings.



That’s just a small sample of the robust coverage C&EN provides. Get the latest news in your discipline with weekly e-mail updates.

How Do I Network at Professional Events?

networking at professional events

The ACS National Meeting is coming up and I’m excited to go for the first time… but I’m nervous about networking at professional events. I’d like to be able to use this meeting to make some new connections and have a little fun, but I’m bad at talking to strangers. I know I’ll spend the whole conference checking my phone if I go in without a game plan. How do I network with my fellow librarians? Help!

You’re putting way too much pressure on yourself! It’s okay to be nervous about networking at professional events. It’s a situation many people struggle with, not just librarians. Think about it this way: If everyone else in the room was a master networker, you wouldn’t have to introduce yourself – someone else would always approach you. Networking is hard for everyone!

So what can you do? Instead of beating yourself up for being “bad at talking to strangers,” try thinking of ways you can make it easier for people to talk to you.

  • Bring a buddy: If you’re attending an event with an existing friend or coworker, don’t just talk to each other the entire time. Expand your circle! It’s easier to talk to strangers when you have a friend to help you keep the conversation going. Be inclusive and look to make connections with people who look like they too are having a hard time networking. That could have been you!
  • Do a little pre-planning: You can use librarian-focused networks like the ACS CINF, SLA Chemistry, or ACRL-STS discussion lists to find other librarians who are attending the same event. Make plans to meet up at the show and do a little networking together.
  • Use social media: Use the event’s official hashtag on Twitter to ask if any librarians attending the conference want to get together for a networking session or a bit to eat during the event. If you are at a librarian-focused event, try asking if anyone from your hometown wants to get together – being from the same area will make it easier to stay in touch.
  • Practice: Having a practiced introduction can make a world of difference, especially if you are still feeling shy. Help people put you in context. Explain who you are and what you do, but try to take it a step further. Give your new friend an opening by saying something that invites a comment or a question to keep the conversation flowing. It could be as simple as “This is my first time at this event,” or “I want to learn more about X at this conference.”
  • Read the room: If all else fails, look for someone else who can’t stop checking Twitter and go make friends with them. They will be glad you did.

Librarians answer tough questions every day, but sometimes even they get stumped. Every month, ACS Library Relations Manager Michael Qiu picks one of your burning questions to answer with the painstaking care you would expect from a librarian. Send him your best questions at M_Qiu@acs.org and he might address your issue in a future edition of this column.

Can’t Miss Sessions for Librarians at the ACS National Meeting in San Diego



From March 13-17, thousands of attendees with gather in San Diego, California for the 251st ACS National Meeting & Exposition.

With hundreds of sessions and thousands of papers and posters to see, the schedule can be overwhelming. Whether you are a first-time attendee or a veteran of the meeting, navigating the schedule is a feat in its own.

As ACS’ Library Relations Manager and a former science librarian myself, I’m naturally interested in sessions on data management, the role of libraries, and more. As I prepare for the National Meeting, these sessions are at the top of my list for chemistry librarians and information professionals.


Division of Chemical Information (CINF): Global Initiatives in Research Data Management & Discovery

Sunday, March 13: 1:00-5:00 PM; Monday, March 14: 8:15-11:55 AM and 1:00-5:00 PM

Co-sponsored by the Division of Analytical Chemistry (ANYL), Division of Computers in Chemistry (COMP), Division of Medicinal Chemistry (MEDI), and Division of Physical Chemistry (PHYS)

Room 25B – San Diego Convention Center

As research data becomes an integral part of open research and science communication, what tools and resources are currently available? What areas need to advance to meet the future needs of open data?


CINF: Scholarships for Scientific Excellence: Student Poster Competition

Sunday, March 13: 6:30-8:30 PM

Room 3 – San Diego Convention Center

See creative and insightful research posters and meet the next generation of chemistry information professionals at this event.


CINF: Driving Change: Impact of Funders on the Research Data & Publications Landscape

Tuesday, March 14: 8:35 AM-12:00 PM and 2:00-4:50 PM

Co-sponsored by MEDI and Division of Organic Chemistry (ORGN)

Room 25A – San Diego Convention Center

Research funding agencies have a huge impact on researchers, publishers, and libraries. This session will explore issues brought up by these groups at the individual and institutional level.


CINF: Reimagining Libraries as Innovation Centers: Enabling, Facilitating & Collaborating throughout the Research Life Cycle

Wednesday, March 15: 8:45 AM-12:00 PM and 1:30-4:45 PM

Room 24C – San Diego Convention Center

The role of libraries and librarians in the research process is quickly evolving. How are libraries and librarians embracing these changes? What best practices can we learn from them?


Multidisciplinary Program Planning Group (MPPG): Big Data Science

Thursday, March 16: 8:30 AM-12:00 PM and 1:30-4:30 PM

Co-sponsored by the Division of Biological Chemistry (BIOL), CINF, COMP, MEDI and PHYS

Room 3 – San Diego Convention Center

The open data movement is creating repository after repository of large data sets, but with so many options, how can the research community keep track of them? In this session, I hope to learn the various sources of big data and how our researchers can best use or access this information.


Browse all technical sessions and get more information on the 2016 ACS National Meeting in San Diego.

Opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS or ACS Publications.

ACS on Campus: Engaging Globally in India


In late January 2016, ACS Publications traveled to India to meet with local researchers and lead a series of ACS on Campus events. More than 900 students, faculty, and researchers attended the full-day programs, which were held at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay; the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore; and the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad.

The events were a mix of lectures, panel discussions, and interactive sessions, including scientific talks by ACS editors and local faculty, along with discussions about the publishing process and how scientists can communicate the importance of their research. Students also had the opportunity to present their research to a panel of ACS editors and receive valuable feedback.

All three events featured an impressive lineup of distinguished speakers, including Inorganic Chemistry Editor-in-Chief William B. Tolman, ACS Sensors Editor-in-Chief J. Justin Gooding, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Editor-in-Chief George C. Schatz, and J. Phys. Chem. Senior Editor Kankan Bhattacharyya. Also presenting was Dr. Anirban Mahapatra and Erin Wiringi from ACS Publications.

Each speaker provided their unique perspectives on the research and publishing worlds to an engaged and highly enthusiastic audience. The ACS team fielded lots of questions and heard personal anecdotes from the attendees. As a result, ACS gained a detailed picture of the publishing landscape in India and the interests and needs of its researchers.

In addition to the daytime sessions, the ACS staff and editors hosted dinners at each location with local faculty and scientists, fostering further engagement.

ACS would like to thank all three universities and the attendees for their hospitality.

To see if ACS on Campus is coming to a school near you, visit acsoncampus.acs.org and be sure to follow @ACSonC on Twitter.

ACS Editors’ Choice: A Possible Treatment for a Severe Epilepsy Syndrome — and More!

This week: a closer look at possible cancer inhibitor, an examination of industrially preferred solvents for green chemistry, testing a possible treatment for a severe epilepsy syndrome  – and more!

Each and every day, ACS grants free access to a new peer-reviewed research article from one of the Society’s journals. These articles are specially chosen by a team of scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world to highlight the transformative power of chemistry. Access to these articles will remain open to all as a public service.

Check out this week’s picks!


hνSABR: Photochemical Dose–Response Bead Screening in Droplets


Alexander K. Price, Andrew B. MacConnell, and Brian M. Paegel
Anal. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b04811


A Transmetalation Reaction Enables the Synthesis of [18F]5-Fluorouracil from [18F]Fluoride for Human PET Imaging


Andrew J. Hoover, Mark Lazari, Hong Ren, Maruthi Kumar Narayanam, Jennifer M. Murphy, R. Michael van Dam, Jacob M. Hooker, and Tobias Ritter
Organometallics, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.6b00059


Mechanistic Analysis of Cocrystal Dissolution as a Function of pH and Micellar Solubilization

Mol. Pharmaceutics, Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.5b00862


Potent and Selective Inhibitors of MTH1 Probe Its Role in Cancer Cell Survival

J. Med. Chem., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b01760


Serotonergic Modulation as Effective Treatment for Dravet Syndrome in a Zebrafish Mutant Model

ACS Chem. Neurosci., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00342


Strong Orientational Coupling of Block Copolymer Microdomains to Smectic Layering Revealed by Magnetic Field Alignment

ACS Macro Lett., 2016, 5, pp 292–296
DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.5b00924


NMR Chemical Shifts of Trace Impurities: Industrially Preferred Solvents Used in Process and Green Chemistry


Org. Process Res. Dev., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/e.5b00417search 


Love ACS Editors’ Choice? Get a weekly e-mail of the latest ACS Editor’s Choice articles and never miss a breakthrough!

Upcoming Webinar: Publishing Tips for Researchers in China


As any China-based researcher knows, publishing your work on an international stage comes with unique challenges. But despite the barriers, China is a fast-growing source of scientific research. In the past 5 years alone, ACS journals published 32,000 articles from authors based in China. Thirty ACS editors and 130 editorial advisory board members call China home.

ACS wants to help researchers in China overcome the common obstacles they face on the path to publication as part of our Growing Globally initiative. That’s why we’re sharing tips from one leading researcher during a free webinar on March 8.

Dongyuan Zhao, Ph.D., Senior Editor of ACS Central Science and a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, will share lessons he’s learned on how best to prepare manuscripts for submission.

During this free webinar you’ll learn how to:

  • Prepare a high-quality manuscript.
  • Improve your chances of publishing in international journals.
  • Secure research funding.
  • Overcome language barriers.

The webinar will be held Tuesday, March 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (Wednesday, March 9 at 9 a.m. Beijing time).

Reserve your place at this webinar today!

6 Questions Every Scientist Should Ask Before Talking to a Reporter

What do I do when a reporter calls to talk about my research?

Stay calm. Don’t answer any questions right away. Tell the reporter you’re about to head into a meeting and you’ll need to call them back. Ask the reporter their name, the publication they’re writing for and the nature of their story. Once you get off the phone, conduct a little investigation of your own. Does the reporter write about your field often? Do they write for a reputable publication? If you like what you find, you can call back and agree to be interviewed. Remember that even though reporters often work on deadline, saying “not right now” is always an option. If you’re not sure, you can always call the ACS Office of Public Affairs for help: 202-872-4440.

How do I explain my research to a reporter?

Practice an elevator pitch that explains your work in no more than 3 bullet points. Focus on the big picture. Many chemists like to talk about the mechanics of their research, but your audience is more interested in the impact of your work. What big questions are you trying to answer? What applications could your research have? What other avenues of inquiry does it open up? Once the reporter understands your pitch, you can go back and talk about the details.

How do I make sure a reporter understands my work?

Ask them. It’s okay to periodically ask a reporter “check-in questions” during the interview. Did your explanation make sense? Are the implications of your findings clear? Did they understand that important caveat? Just ask! Don’t feel awkward about asking reporters to explain your work in their own words. Remember your reporter is a professional too. They want to get this story right and will be glad for the chance to avoid any misunderstandings.

What should I do during an interview?

Print, radio, and television interviews each have their own special challenges, but there are a few best practices you should keep in mind for any interview.

  • Speak simply and avoid jargon, but don’t condescend. Explain your work the way you would when talking to a family member or a friend.
  • Smile, even if you’re speaking over the phone, assuming it’s appropriate to the topic. Your body language affects the way you sound and can help make a reporter more receptive to your ideas. If you’re talking on the phone, try looking into a mirror while you speak. This will help keep you engaged in the conversation.
  • If a reporter asks a question that seems misleading or off-topic, use a bridge statement to bring them back to the core ideas expressed in your pitch. Then use a check-in question to make sure they understand your work.
  • At the end of the interview, offer to help the reporter review any quotes from you that they might want to use. Reporters don’t typically let sources read a story prior to publication, but many are happy to let sources check their quotes for accuracy. You can use this step to make sure you’re quoted appropriately and to clear up any lingering misunderstandings.

Why do I need to talk to reporters at all?

It’s easy to refuse an interview request by saying the reporter “will only get it wrong.” But when a reporter reaches out to you, that’s a sign they want to understand your research and represent it well. After all, they could just read your paper and write a story based on that. Use the opportunity to help the reporter understand the context of your research and the impact it could have. By taking the time to talk to a reporter, you’re helping the public better understand the value of your field and the impact research like yours could someday have on their lives.

How can I learn more about how to speak to the media?

If you’re attending the ACS National Meeting, stop by the Office of Public Affairs Chemistry Ambassador booth for a Speak Simply session. You’ll get to deliver a pitch for your research on camera and then get pointers on ways to better explain your work to friends, family and reporters alike. Can’t make it? No problem! You can visit the Chemistry Ambassadors page for more tips.