Fun With Food Analysis At #ACSAnaheim
Mar31

Fun With Food Analysis At #ACSAnaheim

If you’ve been in grad school or worked in a lab, you’ve been there: sitting around, waiting for your reaction or experiment to do its thing, bored, listless. Then your eye lights on a can of Sprite. Then the pH meter. Then back to the Sprite. The wheels start turning, and before you know it, you’re testing all of your labmates’ drinks and making bar charts. Or maybe that’s just me. For Christopher J. Hudalla, it’s all in a day’s work. Hudalla, a senior scientist at Waters Corp., in Milford, Mass., gave a presentation today at the ACS national meeting in Anaheim about the development of a chromatographic stationary phase for separating a battery of simple sugars. After putting his “bridged ethyl hybrid” phase through the standard paces, demonstrating that it indeed separated a mixture of fructose, glucose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose quite nicely, Hudalla got serious. He wanted to throw everything he could think of at the stationary phase, which is proprietary but has a silane on one end and an amide on the other, to test just how robust it actually is. So he began taking samples of his coworkers’ lunches, he said. Everyday, there was a new food item to test. It became a ritual—a lunchtime club—and Hudalla amassed a “large stack of chromatograms of some very strange things,” he told me. “My colleagues wondered why I had an analysis for Asian dipping sauce.” Then came the beer. Why not test the components of beer during brewing? Hudalla followed the sugar components of a beer mix during mashing, a process in which malt enzymes break down grain starches into sugars (typically maltose), and during fermentation, when the maltose is fermented by yeast to produce alcohol. Turns out that the stationary phase does what it’s supposed to: Hudalla didn’t find any products for which it couldn’t separate those simple sugars cleanly. And although some of the tests seemed frivolous at the time, he said, a major beer manufacturer has since expressed interest in the method. Got any food and/or strange product tests to share that you’ve carried out in the lab? Post them...

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Seeing IYC 2011 at #acsanaheim
Mar30

Seeing IYC 2011 at #acsanaheim

Signs of the International Year of Chemistry were literally everywhere during this national meeting. They were around the Convention Center … On badges … On jackets … On programs … On shirts … On walls … On floors … On cakes … On bags … On buses … Outside taxi cabs … And even inside of taxi cabs! It’s safe to say that IYC was on everyone’s mind during this national...

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Military Undergrads at #ACSAnaheim
Mar30

Military Undergrads at #ACSAnaheim

This Newscripts post is by Senior Editor Susan Ainsworth: Wandering the halls of the undergraduate research poster session at the Anaheim Convention Center on Monday, Associate Editor Linda Wang and I noticed that there seemed to be more students from the U.S. armed forces than we had seen in the past. Intrigued by these neatly uniformed undergrads, we stopped by to talk to some of them and to find out about their research and future plans. Steve Guidry, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., seemed happy to talk about his poster titled “Composite Armor: Multi-layered Polymer Protection.” He hopes that his research will result in improved armor that may help those who diffuse mines or improvised explosive devices—something he hopes to do for the Navy in Iraq or Afghanistan after he graduates this year. Linda and I also met a friendly group of cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. One of the cadets, Arizona native Jennie S. Wood, explained the research behind her poster entitled, “High Surface Area Carbon Aerogels: Modifying Preparation to Optimize Structure and Porosity.” Her work, she says, may find use in energy storage and catalysis applications. A senior chemistry major at the academy, she plans to pursue graduate school. She will then complete the required eight years of service as an officer. Next, we chatted with West Point cadet Michael Swayze, who went over the details of his poster, “Chemical Warfare Agent Surrogate Detection by Metal-Organic Frameworks.” Unable to work with the actual hazardous chemical warfare agents, he is using compounds that have similar vapor pressures. His work may lead to methods that will allow the Army to more quickly detect the release of these dangerous compounds, he says. After graduating from West Point this year, Swayze will serve in Ft. Carson, Colo., in the Medical Service Corps, an appointment he discussed with great enthusiasm.  Having attended two other national ACS meetings, Swayze concurred with our observation that more military undergrads were presenting posters this year. However, he didn’t have an explanation for the uptick. Air Force Academy cadets Casey Hawkins and Scott Pierson offered one theory: the ACS national meeting didn’t coincide with spring break this year. ***All videos taken by Linda...

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This And That from #acsanaheim
Mar29

This And That from #acsanaheim

I arrived in Anaheim on Thursday, March 24. As usual everyone has been busy throughout the meeting. As it always does at national meetings, the C&EN Editorial Board met at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. The C&EN Editorial Board monitors the editorial health of the magazine and adjudicates disputes between the C&EN editor-in-chief and ACS members, among other duties. Two of the seven members of the board are the ACS president and chair of the board of directors, so the C&EN Editorial Board has to meet early to free them for meetings scheduled throughout the rest of the day. Which I love. It means the most important governance meeting I attend is the first thing that happens all week. It’s not that it’s all downhill from there, but it certainly takes some pressure off. One of the points I made in my presentation to the board is that C&EN is not just a print publication any more. Yes, about 96,000 ACS members still take the print edition and it is still our flagship product, but consider: The electronic edition of C&EN is increasingly popular, with 67% of members living outside of North America taking it and 16% of members living in North America taking it. C&EN Online had 14.3 million page downloads in 2010, an 11.7% increase over 2009; 28% of those downloads were “Latest News” stories, which means that people are using the site to keep them up to date on developments in the chemistry enterprise. C&EN introduced two news channels to ACS journal home pages in 2010, the Environmental SCENE and the Analytical SCENE; we will introduce two to four more news channels this year. CENtral science was reinvented in 2010 as a network of focused blogs, now numbering 10, with three—Terra Sigillata, Just Another Electron Pusher, and Transition States—hosted by people not on C&EN’s staff. There’s more, but I think you get the idea. The C&EN brand includes much more than the magazine you’re familiar with. And there’s more to come. Like C&EN Mobile. On Saturday, I attended the Society Committee on Budget & Finance meeting. This committee is a large, serious, august group, as well they should be. ACS had a very good year in 2010, ACS Treasurer Brian Bernstein reported to B&F. The annual audit is now completed, and the net from operations in 2010 was $23.8 million, the highest on record and the seventh consecutive year of positive results. Total revenue was $463.7 million (0.8% growth over 2009), which translates into a return on revenue of 5.3%, the highest since 1984. The society’s unrestricted net assets now stand at $130.3 million, still down from...

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In the Footsteps of a Giant: Inspiration at #ACSAnaheim
Mar29

In the Footsteps of a Giant: Inspiration at #ACSAnaheim

This Newscripts post is by Associate Editor Linda Wang: It’s 1:00 AM in Anaheim, and Gergeis Yosef, 26, is wrapping up an eight-hour shift as a waiter at the Hilton. His bright cheerful eyes hide the fatigue that he feels inside. Yosef attends classes during the day at Irvine Valley Community College, where he is majoring in biology, and in the evening, he heads to his full-time job at the hotel. Five years ago, Yosef arrived in the U.S. from Egypt alone with just $500 in his pocket. His first job was at a hotel cleaning rooms and washing dishes. After the hotel closed for renovations, he got a job at a gas station. Ironically, it was there that he was inspired to pursue his dream of getting an education. It happened that the owner of the gas station was reading the book “Voyage Through Time: Walks of Life to the Nobel Prize” by Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail, who is also Egyptian and winner of this year’s ACS Priestley Medal. In the book, Zewail chronicles his early experiences as a boy growing up in Egypt and his work that led up to the Nobel Prize.  Yosef borrowed the book and read it during his overnight shifts. “This book really changed me,” Yosef says. “It changed how I look at the challenges in life. And it makes me look at my dream and say that maybe one day it can come true. What keeps me going is the faith that tomorrow will be better.” Yosef’s story came to C&EN’s attention through ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs, who met him earlier in the week while dining at the Hilton. She promised to bring Yosef a copy of C&EN signed by Zewail. Yosef's dream is to someday become a doctor. He and his wife, whom he met at his first job at the hotel, are expecting their first child. “It’s really hard having a family and a full-time job, but I’m sticking to my faith that I can do it,” he says. We couldn’t believe in you more, Gergeis. UPDATE: Jacobs came through with the copy of C&EN signed by Zewail. She hand-delivered it to a beaming Yosef Tuesday...

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