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Plenary Session



Chemjobber is a commentator on chemistry jobs, writing for chemists of all experience levels who want to find their first job, meet their next mentor, or radically reevaluate their careers. His data-oriented approach has made him a sought-after speaker, visiting US and Canadian universities to help young chemists think about what their career path looks like, what the current job market looks like, and how to face the ever-evolving future of the global chemical enterprise. He is employed in the chemical manufacturing industry, helping to deliver pharmaceutical ingredients to the customer on the ton scale, initially from the laboratory and now in a leadership position. Working in industry since 2009, he has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry (total synthesis of natural products) and did his postdoctoral fellowship as an industrial postdoc at Pfizer in synthetic methodology. 

Chemjobber blogs at Since 2008, the blog covers the chemistry employment market, chemical safety and other issues of important to chemists and the chemical enterprise. He has written extensively for Chemistry World and Chemical and Engineering News. 

Plenary Session

Richmond Sarpong

University of California, Berkeley

Richmond Sarpong is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California Berkeley where he and his group specialize in synthetic organic chemistry. Richmond became interested in chemistry after seeing, firsthand, the effectiveness of the drug ivermectin in combating river blindness during his childhood in Ghana, West Africa. Richmond described his influences and inspirations in a TEDxBerkeley talk in 2015 (Face of Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa Richmond completed his undergraduate studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and his graduate work was carried out with Prof. Martin Semmelhack at Princeton. He conducted postdoctoral studies at Caltech with Prof. Brian Stoltz.

At Berkeley, Richmond’s laboratory focuses on the synthesis of bioactive complex organic molecules. He enjoys teaching and was the recipient of the 2009 UC Berkeley Department of Chemistry teaching award, the 2016 Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Physical Sciences at Berkeley, and the 2021 ACS-DOC Edward Leete Award for teaching and research. Richmond’s research group has published over 135 papers and he has received numerous awards in recognition of his research including an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, ACS Cope Scholar Award, NSF Career Award, the 2015 Royal Society of Chemistry Synthetic Organic Chemistry Award, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship, the ISHC Katritzky Award, the Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry Japan Mukaiyama Award for 2019, the and the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry for 2022. He is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2020).

Plenary Session

Barbara Finlayson-Pitts

University of California, Irvine

Barbara Finlayson-Pitts is UCI Distinguished Professor Emerita and Professor of Chemistry Recalled at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She earned her B.Sc. (Hons) from Trent University in 1970 and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside in 1973. After a year of postdoctoral research, she joined the faculty at California State University Fullerton, where she spent 20 years teaching and doing research primarily with undergraduates. In 1994, she moved to UCI where she continues to lead research projects and teams, as well as teaching. She founded and co-directs AirUCI, a collaborative of 32 faculty across the physical sciences, engineering, public health and the social sciences.

Her research has focused on a number of important reactions that impact air quality, health and climate, especially those involving the formation, growth and reactions of particles. For example, she was the first to establish that reactions in air of salt particles from oceans or salting roads in winter generate, highly reactive chlorine and bromine atoms that accelerate smog formation in lower latitudes, or destroy ground level ozone in the Arctic. Much of her recent research has focused on the formation of new particles from sources such as methanesulfonic acid, and particle growth from previously unrecognized “burying” mechanisms which has also led to the development of techniques to characterize the surface composition of organic particles. A current interest is non-tailpipe emissions from vehicle brakes and tires that will remain as we transition to electric vehicles, and their impacts on air quality and climate. She has coauthored more than 200 scientific publications and two books in the area of atmospheric chemistry.

Dr. Finlayson-Pitts’ research has been recognized by a number of awards including the American Chemistry Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science & Technology, the 2018 Polanyi Medal and the 2019 Environment Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She has been elected a Fellow of a number of societies, including the American Geophysical Union, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She was awarded the Doctor of Science, honoris causa (D.Sc.) by McGill University in 2023. 

Plenary Session

Steven Holdcroft, FCIC

Simon Fraser University
Montréal Medal Winner

Dr. Steven Holdcroft is a Tier I CRC, former Departmental Chair, and former President of the CSC. He has chaired various NSERC Committees and conceptualized the formation of the NSERC Chemistry Liaison Committee (NCLC) to facilitate interactions between NSERC and the chemistry research community. He chaired the Technical Programs of Pacifichem 2010 and 2015 congresses. Dr. Holdcroft was seconded to the NRC for 12 years with the task of building R&D capabilities to facilitate the development of Canada’s fledging hydrogen fuel cell economy, leading initiatives that fostered global R&D partnerships which greatly enhanced Canada’s reputation as a world-leading hub for hydrogen R&D.  

Dr. Holdcroft is author of 300+ articles and inventor of 20+ patents in the field of electrochemical materials. With three former students, he cofounded Vancouver-based Ionomr Innovations Inc., a thriving 50+ person SFU spin-out commercializing materials for clean energy. He serves on the editorial advisory board of several journals including Energy and Environmental Science and Electrochemical Energy Reviews. Dr. Holdcroft has received the Macromolecular Science and Engineering Division Award of the CIC, the CSC RioTinto Alcan Award, and is the recipient of SFU’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Academic Achievement. In 2021, he became a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and last year received the Gutenberg Prize from the Cercle Gutenberg (France). 

Plenary Session

Warren Piers, FCIC

University of Calgary
CIC Medal Winner

Warren Piers, FCIC, obtained his B.Sc. at UBC in 1984 and continued as a NSERC Postgraduate Scholar, graduating with a Ph.D. in 1988. He spent two years at CalTech as an NSERC and Killam Postdoctoral Fellow. In 1990, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph, moving to the University of Calgary as an Associate Professor in 1995. In 2000, he was promoted to the S. Robert Blair Chair in Polymerization Catalysis, and in 2013, was named a Tier I Canada Research Chair in the Mechanisms of Homogeneous Catalysis. His research interests include the development of main group and transition element-based homogeneous catalysts for chemical transformations important for the chemical industry and reactions relevant to clean energy. His work is described in over 240 scholarly publications and 15 patents. Besides national awards, he has held a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Invitation Fellowship (2014) and a Humboldt Research Award at the University of Tübingen (2015-2017). He has given over 250 invited lectures at conferences, companies, and Universities around the globe, including several named lectures. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK).