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8000 Utopia Parkway
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Phone 516-883-7510
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Office Administrator

William H. Nichols Distinguished Symposium,
Medal Award Presentation & Dinner
April 13, 2018
115 Years: 
1903 - 2018
Prof. Rolison Click to enlarge.
Debra R. Rolison, Ph.D.


Debra R. Rolison, PhD

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Crowne Plaza Hotel
White Plains, NY

[ Dr. Rolison's Bio ]
[ Read the History of the Nichols Award ]
[ Summary of Previous Medalists]
[ Reservation Form (Pay by Check) ]
[ Reservation Form (Pay via Paypal) ]


“The Future fo Energy Science...Without Chemists? Unachievable!”




2018 Nichols Medalist

Dr. Debra R. Rolison

Advanced Materials Section

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

1:00 p.m.           Welcome


Professor Joseph M. Serafin,   2018 Chair, ACS New York Section, St. John's University


1:05 p.m.           Opening of the Distinguished Symposium


Professor Justyna Widera-Kalinowska,   2018 Chair-Elect, ACS New York Section, Adelphi University


1:15 p.m.           Designing Transition Metal Phosphide Nanoparticles and Composites for Effective Electrocatalytic and Photocatalytic Water Splitting


Professor Stephanie L. Brock   Wayne State University

Transition metal phosphides are of considerable research interest for the wide range of catalytic functions they imbue. These include hydrodesulfurization of fossil fuels, hydrodeoxygenation of biofuels, and electrocatalytic water splitting reactions, among others. However, the functionality of the phosphide is sensitively dependent on composition, structure and particle size. In order to better understand the roles of structure, electronics, and surface chemistry on catalytic activity and stability, synthetic methods that enable composition, structure, and size to be targeted, and that yield low-polydispersity samples, are needed. In this presentation, the synthesis of bimetallic manganese and ruthenium phosphide nanoparticles M2–xMnxP (M = Fe, Co) and Ni2–xRuxP will be described and their composition-dependent activity for electrocatalytic water oxidation presented. The role of structure, site occupancy, and electronic considerations on functionality will be discussed in the context of designing more active and stable electrocatalysts. Finally, as a means to translate electrocatalytic activity into photocatalytic activity, the design of porous nanoparticle assemblies that blend phosphides with light-harvesting sulfide nanoparticles will be described and their efficacy for photocatalytic water reduction discussed in light of interfacial characteristics. The talk will conclude with a discussion of the importance of rational nanomaterials synthesis and design in addressing 21st century energy and environmental needs.


2:00 p.m.           Modulating Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer Mechanisms for the Efficient Production of Fuels



Dr. Jillian L. Dempsey   University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Molecular transformations of interest for solar fuel production are underpinned by proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions. To optimize efficiency in the catalytic reactions that mediate fuel production, this proton-electron reactivity must be carefully orchestrated. Our group utilizes a combination of electrochemical methods and time-resolved spectroscopy to elucidate the mechanisms of PCET reactions in both transition metal-based hydrogen-evolving catalysts and model systems. By systematically examining the influence of various reaction parameters—including catalyst structure, ligand electronics and proton source—on the PCET mechanisms and the kinetics of their elementary reaction steps, we are revealing how the PCET reaction space can be intentionally traversed. These findings are providing the blueprints for next-generation catalyst design.



2:45 p.m.           Coffee Break



3:15 p.m.           Operando Methods for the Study of Energy Materials


Dr. Héctor D. Abruña   Cornell University

This presentation will deal with the development of operando methods for the study and characterization of fuel cell and battery materials. The presentation will begin with a brief overview of the methods employed. Particular emphasis will be placed on the use of X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) X-ray microscopy and tomography and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) all under active potential control. The utility of these methods will be illustrated by selected examples including electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction and spectroscopic studies of Li/S batteries and lithium dendrite formation dynamics. The use of operando TEM will be illustrated by studies of fuel cell catalyst degradation and coalescence and lithiation/de-lithiation dynamics of LiFePO4 via energy-filtered TEM. Finally the concept of symmetrical redox flow batteries will be demonstrated. The presentation will conclude with an assessment of future directions.


4:00 p.m.           Architectural Design, 1D Walls, 3D Plumbing, and Painting Blind en Route to Multifunctional Nanoarchitectures for Energy Storage



Dr. Debra R. Rolison,   U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Nichols Medalist

Our team at the Naval Research Laboratory looks at rate-critical chemical processes where events per second are required for high performance in such technologies as energy storage, energy conversion, (electro)catalysis, and sensing. We then design next-generation systems built around pore–solid nanoarchitectures that seamlessly embody all of the requisite rate functions for high-performance electrochemistry: molecular mass transport, ionic/electronic/thermal conductivity, and electron-transfer kinetics. We have taken the lessons from 20 years of probing the operational and design characteristics of catalytic and energy-relevant nanoarchitectures to create a zinc sponge—a stand-alone, 3D-wired anode that improves current distribution within the electrode structure during charge–discharge cycling, thwarts dendrite-formation, and can challenge the energy density of Li-ion battery packs, all while using safer aqueous-based chemistry. With this breakthrough, we are now addressing the family of zinc-based rechargeable alkaline batteries: nickel–3D zinc, silver–3D zinc, MnO2–3D zinc, and even rechargeable 3D zinc–air. The route we have taken to move from a creative concept to a fabricated reality to the necessary fundamental characterization to prototype development (and ultimately commercialization by outside companies) will be described.



5:15 p.m.           Social Hour



6:15 p.m.           William H. Nichols Medal Award Dinner
                Professor Henry White of the University of Utah will introduce the 2018 Medalist

Reservations for the 2018 William H. Nichols Distinguished Symposium & Medal Award Banquet
in honor of Dr. Debra R. Rolison, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
may be made by April 1, 2018 using this form

You can pay for your tickets using the buttons below (please make sure to indicated menu selection)
50+ Year Members of the American Chemical Society may receive complimentary tickets to the the Award Symposium by emailing Marilyn Jespersen at the New York Section Office.

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Message from 2019 Chair
Dr. Justyna Widera-Kalinowska

2019 Board Meeting Dates

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Reminder - Please Pay Your New York Local Section Voluntary Dues!

When your ACS membership renewal notice arrives this time, please be sure to renew but also don't forget to check the box for payment of New York Local Section Dues. While Local Section dues are a voluntary contribution - they are not required to maintain Section membership - they are however, critically important to the well being of the New York Section.

Your $15.00 Voluntary Dues directly fund events and services, including the prestigious annual Nichols Medal Symposium, undergraduate research symposia, topical groups, subgroups, and other excellent programs. With your financial commitment, these important programs can continue to grow and benefit all our members.

Thank you - the New York Section really appreciates your help!

Employers Seeking Talented Employees

The Employment and Professional Relations Committee maintains a roster of candidates who are ACS members seeking a position in the New York metropolitan area. If you have job openings and would like qualified candidates to contact you, please send a brief job description and educational/experience background required to Hessy Taft. Candidates from our roster who meet the requirements you describe will be asked to contact you.

Do you like to talk?
Then we need to hear from you!

The New York Section of the ACS is looking to increase and update its Speakers Bureau database of interested local area speakers who are available for Section-wide seminars and symposia. If you have an area of research or interest that would provide an interesting talk appropriate for our Section members, and would like to be included in our Speakers Bureau, then please contact the New York Section Office (516-883-7510, Email) with the following information that will be posted on the Section's website: your name, affiliation, a title, and 5-6 words briefly summarizing your area of specialty. We look forward to hearing from you about topics that you wish to share with our other members!

NY Section ACS Speakers Bureau