YCC Tours Heliae in Gilbert

CAZACS Younger Chemists Committee recently organized a tour of Heliae’s global headquarters in Gilbert. It may seem like a tucked-away corner of a commercial complex and some greenhouses, but there’s a lot going on at Heliae! Several students from ASU and a few science teachers from Gilbert School District joined the afternoon tour on Friday, February 26.

What does Heliae (Heel-E-ay) do? They grow unique algae strains on industrial scale, and these algae can do a lot! One of Heliae’s main products, Phycoterra, is used to help restore soil structure and health. After many cycles of conventional farming, even with proper crop rotation, soils can become depleted of nutrients and loose water retention, changing the microbiology. The algae in Phycoterra helps to boost healthy microbial growth in the soil, which improves water retention, soil structure, and nutrient bio-availability. Restoring soil health can promote more robust root growth in plants, which increases crop yields for farmers. Some of Heliae’s other algae strains can produce large amounts of antioxidants or oils. These useful materials are harvested from the algae.

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Our tour was in-depth, and we had a chance to meet a lot of the staff and leadership team! We had a great conversation with the VP of Operations, whom reviewed of the science, challenges, and opportunities at Heliae. We also had the opportunity to talk about the career pathways at Heliae with the Director of HR. She highlighted important non-technical skills that they look for in new hires (hopefully the undergrads took note of this valuable advice!). We checked out the strain development lab, where new algae strains are isolated and refined. We also had a chance to see the small and medium scale bio reactors, where the algae strains are grown for seeding the larger bioreactors. In another area, we checked out two of the larger bioreactors in action. We also explored Heliae’s on-site greenhouses, which are used for testing the algal products on a variety of different plants and growing conditions.

We had a lot of fun exploring the biology end of the STEM spectrum, and it was very cool to see some of the science at this global company in this corner of Gilbert. Thank you Heliae staff and leadership for taking the time with CAZACS on this tour!


Unlocking the Mystery of the Stradivarius

Note: This event has been cancelled in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Did you love the 1998 movie “The Red Violin”? Then you might want to check out this special lecture that we’re bringing to the Musical Instrument Museum on March 28!

The first 20 CAZACS members to sign up can enjoy this event for free! Sign up here

What makes the Stradivarius the Stradivarius, i.e., the non-plus-ultra of all violins? The great masters of Cremona left no historical records of their methods, and violin makers have tried for two hundred years in vain to figure it out. It was left for the powers of modern science to shed light on the intricacies of the ancient art and elucidate its evolution during the golden era from 1560 till 1770.

First came the physicists who measured the stiffness of the violin wood and determined the vibrational/acoustical properties of the great violins, but this was not enough for the successful reconstruction of the masterpieces in neither visual nor acoustical regards. It took the efforts of chemists to analyze tiny fragments of the wood and varnish to recognize that Stradivari and members of the Guarneri family applied the knowledge of alchemists to the preservation and acoustical improvement of their wood before they set out to fashion their individual models of violins. The modern chemical-analytical methodology was introduced to this field in the late 1970s by the presenter of this program, who will explain in layman’s terms how a major international research effort unfolded and how the Stradivarius yielded bit by bit its secrets. By now we have gained a reasonably good understanding of how the great violins were designed, constructed, and how the materials were processed, including the stratigraphy of the beautiful finish that covers them. Due to these successes, we have entered a new golden age of violin making.

You can now have a an equivalent of a Stradivarius for a fraction of the price. Dr. Joseph Nagyvary has brought an unprecedented level of academic expertise to bear upon the age-old violin puzzle. A native of Hungary, he majored in chemistry at the Eotvos Lorand University of Budapest (1952-1956); he became a student of the Swiss Nobel Laureate Paul Karrer in 1957, and received his PhD in the chemistry of natural products in 1962.

While in Zurich, he had his first formal violin lessons on a violin which once belonged to Albert Einstein, a coincidence which helped turning his attention to the physical mysteries of the violin. He gained his first glimpses into the art of violin making from the Zurich luthier Amos Segesser. In 1963, he spent a postdoctoral year in Cambridge with Lord Alexander Todd, a British Nobel Laureate. He came to the United States in 1964, and settled down in Texas in 1968 where he has remained a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University until his retirement in 2003. Dr. Nagyvary was the recipient of a Career Development Grant, and numerous other research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the NASA. His discoveries concerning the classical violins were made public in over 255 lectures sponsored mainly by the American Chemical Society. On such occasions, his claims were examined by professionals and comparisons were made between Professor Nagyvary’s new recreations and the finest locally available antique Italian violins, including several Stradivaris.

The lecture will take place at 1pm on March 28, 2020, but we highly recommend that you come earlier and check out this fascinating museum! The event runs from 11a-3p

CAZACS Loves Chemistry

CAZACS hosted a booth space at the Arizona Museum of Natural History’s I Love Science Day. We were joined by students from ASU’s Association of Chemistry Explorers and the ACS Student Affiliates from Tempe. 

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Students had a chance to practice their public communication skills with families using the hands-on What’s in the Water activity from the NISE Let’s Do Chemistry kit. It’s amazing how quickly a few quick measurements of water samples inspires children (and adults!) to become analytical chemists! A few even hoped to buy their own refractometer for home use.

Want to join the fun and volunteer with us for the next outreach event? Have an event in mind that CAZACS should go to? Check the volunteer opportunities page and let us know!

Leadership Institute 2020

Every year, the ACS hosts the Leadership Institute, an intensive three-day workshop designed to train elected officers, committee leaders, and council members to succeed in their new roles. This invitation-only event includes local section officers from across the US, as well as technical division leaders, ACS board members, regional division leaders, and Younger Chemists leaders. Notably, all 300+ attendees of the Institute are serving in their ACS roles as volunteers, committed to building a better community in chemistry.

To say the least, it was easy to follow a networking conversation formula at the Institute: “What is your role in the ACS?” followed by “So what’s your regular job?” In truth, the dedication of this group of individuals is pretty inspiring when taken in the broader context.

The Leadership Institute is a unique opportunity for ACS leaders to meet each other and compare notes and strategies, all while taking valuable coursework in leadership and management. While these courses are aimed at ACS governance use, the skills and tools in these programs are broadly applicable to our jobs and careers.

The ACS offers both online and in-person courses geared towards professional development and leadership training, with attention to the needs and demands of chemists. The Leadership Institute includes many of the facilitated courses, in addition to training sessions that are specific to respective leadership roles.
If you haven’t looked into these professional development resources lately, now might be a good time! Many of these courses are included in your ACS membership, and several are available as on-demand courses online.
Personally, I found “Managing Projects Effectively” to be really valuable for my job, and I completed it in one evening at home!

CAZACS sent newly elected roles to the Leadership Institute this year. We had a chance to touch base with governance from the Southern Arizona local section, and caught up with our District VI ACS board director, Paul Jagodzinski (also a CAZACS member). We even had a chance to meet the ACS president, Luis Echegoyen! We came away from the institute feeling motivated, exhausted, both more and less organized, and full of new ideas to better serve our CAZACS members and committees.

How do you get an invitation to the ACS Leadership Institute? The first step is to get more involved in planning activities with the CAZACS local section! We are always looking for motivated individuals to help us plan, organize, and manage events and programs. You can get in touch with us on the contact us form and let us know how you want to get more involved.

Volunteer Outreach Opportunities

If you are interested in reaching a broader audience and making an impact on the community with your passion for chemistry, you might think about participating in some outreach activities!

We will try to update this page and the calendar as new events become available. Feel free to bookmark this page.

Email Christina at forbescr550@gmail.com for more information about any of these events or programs!

CAZACS Outreach Opportunities

CAZACS is represented at (or organizing) the following events, and we need your help! If you want to be added to a list of volunteers that we can count on, let Christina know!

(Events to come)

Other Outreach Opportunities

If you’re looking for other ways to volunteer, these might be of interest to you! (Note: while CAZACS is not formally sponsoring or participating in these events, you can still get involved! You may contact Christina and ask for more information about any of these events).

May 3-6, 2021
Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) – Virtual
ISEF is in need of Judging Proctors (super easy and fun) for the virtual event coming soon!!
How can you help? ISEF is in need of Judging Proctors (super easy and fun) for the virtual event coming soon!! This is open to anyone age 20+. The judging proctor role is perfect for parents, teachers, college students, retirees, and anyone who can handle possibly screen-sharing documents, connecting with the Society when there is an issue with a judge, finalist or interpreter. More information and registration details can be found here.

Anytime, anywhere
Skype a Scientist
Skype a Scientist matches scientists with classrooms around the world! We want to give students the opportunity to get to know a “real scientist”. This program allows us to reach students from all over the world without having to leave the lab!
How can you help? Skype a Scientist is always recruiting scientists that are looking to inspire the next generation in STEM. You and your interests will be matched to a teacher, and then you’ll coordinate your schedules to do a video chat with a classroom and engage with their students! Scientist/classroom matches are coordinated for fall and spring semesters, but you can sign up any time here.