Erie Local Section

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USNCO Local Olympiad National Exam

United States National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) to be held at Gannon University!

Saturday, April 21st, from 9:30 AM to 4 PM



Local Students Qualify for the National level of the United States Chemistry Olympiad


The Erie section of the American Chemical Society has announced the names of 10 outstanding high school chemistry students.  The students will take a national exam that may qualify them to become members of the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad team that will compete in the 50th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in Bratislava Slovakia and Prague, Czech Republic, July 19-29, 2018.  These students and their respective high school chemistry teachers will also be honored at the Erie ACS awards banquet on Monday, April 30th.


The students are:



High School

Chemistry Teacher

Alex  Kolodychak

Cathedral Prep

Brian Markley

Dominic MacArthur

Cathedral Prep

Brian Markley

Zachary Brown


Calvin Wheeler

Sara Westcott


Calvin Wheeler

Caleb Mandel


Gina Schilajew

Ryan Michael Sweet


Gina Schilajew

Tyler Steffy


Jacob Tobolewski

Jennifer Wang


Jacob Tobolewski

Andrew Kubaney

Mercyhurst Prep

Jane Fisher

Zeqian Min

Mercyhurst Prep

Jane Fisher



The IChO involves a series of theoretical exams, laboratory exercises, and other activities aimed at identifying the best chemistry students from participating nations from around the world.  The U.S. has participated in this event since 1984.  In 2017, the U.S. team won four gold medals under the mentorship of Gannon University’s very own, Dr. Christine A. Saber, one of three National mentors for the USNCO.  A total of 297 students represented 76 countries at the 49th IChO, in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. 


The 10 local nominees are among over 1,200 nationwide that will take a national qualifying exam April 17-23, 2018 to select finalists.  Twenty students will be identified and will undergo intensive training June 10-25, 2018 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, CO.  The top four will be chosen to represent the U.S. in the 50th IChO competition.  Dr. Saber holds a three-year position as one of only three National U.S. mentors, and will once again train the 2018 finalists, this year as the head mentor.


Founded in 1876 and chartered by Congress, the American Chemical Society is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of chemistry in the public interest serving nearly 150,000 members.  The Erie section is one of 185 across the nation.


For more information about the USNCO:



For more information about the Erie Local Section of the American Chemical Society, please visit:



March Speaker Meeting with Dr. Ria Betush

Please join the Erie ACS on Tuesday, March 27th for our March speaker meeting! The section is pleased to welcome Dr. Ria Betush, Assistant Professor at Gannon University, who will present research on “Understanding Molecular Interactions for Peptide Self-Assembly.” The talk will be held at Gannon University in the Zurn Science Center, Room 101, at 7:00 pm. A campus map is attached for your reference (Zurn is building #39) and city parking is available in the garages located across the street from Zurn on 8th Street and between Peach and Sassafras Street.


All Erie ACS members and chemistry students are invited to have dinner with Dr. Betush at Molly Brannigan’s at 5:30 PM before the talk. Those interested in attending dinner should RSVP to Keith Krise ( with subject “ACS dinner RSVP”, by Monday, March 26, 2018. No RSVP is required to attend the talk. We hope you can join us for this March speaker meeting!




Understanding Molecular Interactions for Peptide Self-Assembly

Ria Betush, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Gannon University



Proteins and peptides are capable of self-assembling into higher order structures via noncovalent bonding interactions. These peptide sequences can be designed amphipathic peptides, which are deliberately patterned to form β-sheets. The β-sheets are formed and stabilized by hydrogen bonding between adjacent peptide backbones and hydrophobic, electrostatic, and hydrogen bonding interactions between their amino acid side chains. These designed peptides often contain alternating polar and nonpolar amino acids that help to enforce a β-sheet structure, as in the case of Ac-(FKFE)2-NH2 with alternation phenylalanine (nonpolar) and lysine or glutamic acid (polar) side chains. In order to efficiently design these peptides for the broad range of biological applications that have been explored, there first needs to be a clear understanding of how the amino acids in the peptide sequence interact and can be manipulated to affect the fibril structures. This talk will focus on the progress towards Ac-(FKFE)2-NH2 modifications to enantiopure peptide structures including co-assembly and stability of all D- and L- amino acid peptides and mixed D- and L- amino acid peptides as well as application for siRNA delivery. 

March 7th - Science Cafe on "Urban Gardening and the Chemistry of Gardening"

Please join the Erie ACS on Wednesday, March 7th for our Science Café! The section is pleased to welcome Gretchen Gallagher Durney of the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network and Penn State Master Gardener Carolyn Ruth to discuss “Urban Gardening & the Chemistry of Gardening.” The talk will be held at Calamari’s Squid Row from 7:00-8:00 pm (1317 State Street, Erie, PA  16501). Metered parking is available on State Street and in the parking lot on the corner of State and 13th Streets.

Erie ACS members, chemistry students and the public are encouraged to attend this event.  Calamari’s will provide a limited menu for ordering food and drinks before the talk. Please arrive around 6:15 PM if you wish to place a food order and to enjoy some casual networking time. No RSVP is required- we hope you can join us for this science café!


Questions can be addressed to Dr. Keith Krise (

Celebrate National Chemistry Week 2017

National Chemistry Week (NCW) will be taking place from October 22nd – 28th! The Erie Local Section invites you to be part of our celebration of NCW by volunteering for our annual demo show at the Millcreek Mall on Saturday, November 4th from 11 AM – 2 PM. We will have two shifts of volunteers: 10-12:30 or 12:30-3 (time included for setup and take down).  Please contact Dr. Keith Krise ( to sign up and join the crew!

This year’s NCW theme is “Chemistry Rocks!” so it’s sure to be a fun time had by all. Please help spread the word - all are welcome to stop by the demo show from 11-2 at the Millcreek Mall!

ACS Program-In-A-Box Series presents the Chemistry Rocks: Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals 

Please come celebrate National Chemistry Week with the Erie ACS on Tuesday, October 24th for the ACS program-in-a-box series "Chemistry Rocks: Exploring the Chemistry of Rocks and Minerals!" The event will be held at Gannon University in the Zurn Science Center, Room 329, from 6:30-8:00 PM. City parking is available in the garages located across the street from Zurn on 8th Street and between Peach and Sassafras Street. All are welcome to attend this fun and interactive event, and to bring a group or a friend!

We are surrounded by rocks and minerals everywhere... in the ground we walk on, the places we work and live, and even in the food we eat.  How are chemists experimenting with these fundamental materials to help the world and make our lives better?  At this event you will have the opportunity to network with young chemists across the world on social media, participate in discussion and activities, and ask questions live to the experts regarding the amazing work that is being done in rock and mineral science. 

We hope to see you at this event where nearly 100 ACS viewing parties across the nation will be tuning in to this live, national broadcast.  Chemistry students and chemistry clubs are especially encouraged to attend.

Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecture

The 2017 Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer is a chemistry professor from Purdue University and the topic may be of interest to members of our local ACS section.  


November Speaker Meeting with Dr. Todd Eckroat

Please join the Erie ACS on Tuesday, November 7th for our November speaker meeting! The section is pleased to welcome Dr. Todd Eckroat, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Penn State Behrend, who will present “Synthesis and Biochemical Evaluation of Dual Binding Site Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors for Alzheimer’s Disease.” The talk will be held at Penn State Behrend in the Hammermill Building, Room 144, at 7:00 pm.

All Erie ACS members and chemistry students are invited to have dinner at 5:15 PM with Dr. Eckroat before the talk. Those interested in attending dinner should RSVP to Dr. Keith Krise ( with the subject “ACS dinner RSVP,” by Monday, November 6th. No RSVP is required to attend the talk. We hope you can join us for this November speaker meeting!


"Synthesis and Biochemical Evaluation of Dual Binding Site Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors for Alzheimer’s Disease”

Dr. Todd Eckroat,

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Penn State Behrend

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) represents a significant and dramatically increasing burden to society. The exact cause of this complex neurodegenerative disorder remains unclear, despite the identification of several pathological hallmarks. Inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) help with cognitive symptoms, but they are currently incapable of halting or reversing disease progression. The dual binding site approach aims to identify and create inhibitors capable of binding to AChE through simultaneous interaction with both the peripheral and catalytic sites of the enzyme. This not only enhances potency of the inhibitor to improve treatment of cognitive symptoms, but also allows the inhibitor to attack other aspects of AD at the same time. In turn, this may allow the inhibitor to affect disease progression, which would represent a significant improvement over current treatments. This talk will highlight the success of two classes of previously synthesized dual binding site inhibitors. In addition, ongoing work towards a new, natural product-based dual binding site inhibitor will be discussed. 

Questions can be addressed to Dr. Keith Krise (

Fall 2017 Member Engagement Program- Periodic Attendance Cards

The Erie ACS is pleased to announce a that we will once again be running our Periodic Attendance Card incentive program in fall 2017! All ACS members and guests at section events will receive a Periodic Attendance Card (PAC). The PACs will be hole-punched at each event, and members will receive one raffle ticket at our December holiday party for each event that was attended. The lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card from The cards are wallet-sized and will be easier for members to keep track of than last year's passport books. The more events attended, the better the odds...good luck!

Read the Erie Local Section Newsletter

The latest volume of the Erie Local Section's annual newsletter is here, recapping our 2015-2016 program and looking forward to the year ahead! Read the current issue and stay up-to-date on local section volunteer and service activities, as well as upcoming events.
Volume 6 will be published in August 2017.

The Erie Local Section Wins 2016 ChemLuminary Award!

For the second year in a row, the Erie Local Section is the recipient of the 2016 "Outstanding Performance by a Local Section – Small Size Category Award."

  Congratulations to our Section Members on this Prestigious National Recognition!


The Erie Local Section is Nominated for Two 2016 ChemLuminary Awards

The Erie Local Section is happy to share that we are nominated for two 2016 ChemLuminary Awards! The Erie Local Section is once again nominated for the "Outstanding Performance by a Local Section -- Small Size Category Award" for our diverse technical and outreach programming last year. The Section has also been nominated for "Best Activity or Program Stimulating Member Involvement" for our new Periodic Attendance Card member engagement program.

Three local sections are nominated in each category. The winners will be announced at the ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, PA on the evening of Tuesday, August 23.

Local Section Member Serves as U.S. International Chemistry Olympiad Mentor

Dr. Christine Saber, the Secretary for the Erie Local Section, is one of three national mentors for the U.S. International Chemistry Olympiad Team. The team will be heading to Tbilisi, Georgia from July 23 to August 1. Keep up with the team's progress in this edition of C&E News! 


St. Luke Student Takes Second Place in National Chemistry Earth Day Contest

An illustrated poem created by a St. Luke School student took second place in a national contest sponsored by the American Chemical Society.


The winning entry comes from Tommy Palotas, an eighth grade student whose illustrated poem addressed this year’s Chemists Celebrate Earth Day theme, “The Great Indoors– Your Home’s Ecosystem”. Tommy’s colorful poem was the first-place entry in the Erie Local Section of ACS, which qualified him for the national competition. His entry went on to win second place at the national level. Dr. Betty Jo Chitester, local coordinator for the event, shared, “Our Section is very impressed and very proud of Tommy, as well as all our Erie school children’s understanding and appreciation of today’s environmental threats and challenges, and their strong sense of stewardship for our common home.” Says Dr. Lisa Nogaj, Chair of the Erie Local Section of ACS, “The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research. Our local section is excited to sponsor community-based events that connect young people with the positive role that chemistry plays in all of our lives.” Tommy’s illustrated poem can be viewed at