The final issue of a calendar year always feels a bit momentous — a milestone of sorts — capping 12 months of intensive research and writing. This edition is the denouement to 2016 and we have a range of intriguing stories to take us into the New Year. Included is “A synthesizing life,” which profiles Queen’s University chemistry professor emeritus Victor Snieckus. At the age of 80, Snieckus is still going strong, with his firm, Snieckus Innovations, synthesizing an estimated 5,000 highly pure compounds to sell to laboratories around the globe. 

“Out of thin air” analyzes a new innovation being developed by Carbon Engineering, located in British Columbia’s mountain community of Squamish. CEO Adrian Corless is rising to the challenge of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in big trucks, big industry and airplanes. His plan? Capture carbon dioxide straight out of the atmosphere, an endeavour some have labelled crazy. 

In the feature “Flight risks” we look at Robert Letcher’s research into identifying chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) in the Great Lakes Basin. A scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Letcher’s work has seen him clambering over rocks to collect herring gull eggs, which are then analyzed to assess the persistence, bioaccumulation and degradation of a wide variety of compounds.

Chemical News offers up a full gamut of stories ranging from the development of a Star Trek-inspired needle for vaccine delivery to the development of electron-poor polymers for numerous, novel applications. Perhaps the most intriguing is the discovery that chitin (C8H13O5N), a long-chain polymer that acts as the structure for crustacean shells, is being explored by University of British Columbia chemist Mark MacLachlan as a material for biodegradable coffee cups, supercapacitor electrodes and even battery electrodes.

Enjoy the read, see you in 2017 and have a terrific holiday season!