Dr. Cristina Bonaccorsi graduated with a Masters in Chemistry (Laurea) from the University of Pisa,
summa cum laude, with a thesis entitled: “Synthesis and Reactivity of Hexanuclear Platinum
Clusters", in 2001 (Professor P. Leoni, Professor M. Pasquali). She obtained her Ph.D. from the
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland, in 2005 with a thesis entitled
"Ruthenium PNNP Catalyzed Asymmetric Atom-Transfer Reactions" (PD Dr. A. Mezzetti,
Professor A. Togni). She moved to Iowa State University to work in Prof. Professor V. S.-Y. Lin’s
group as a postdoctoral research associate from February 2006 to May 2008. Since 2009 she has
been a lecturer. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 2018. She teaches large introductory
general and inorganic chemistry courses.

Cristina Bonaccorsi
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Dr. Joe Burnett is a Senior Lecturer and the Coordinator of Undergraduate Chemistry at Iowa State University (ISU). He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Allegheny College (a tiny liberal arts college in Meadville, Pa) in 1982 and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991. He was a postdoc in the research group of Patricia Thiel, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, at the Ames Laboratory and the Department of Chemistry at Iowa State University. From 1993 to 1996 Joe served as a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Iowa and as a research postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Mark A. Young. It was at the University of Iowa that Joediscovered his love of teaching. Since 1997 Joe has served the ISU Chemistry Department as an instructor. Professionally, Joe is passionate about teaching chemistry (and science in general), understanding how people learn, and in helping others become better teachers.

Joe Burnett
Catherine J. Murphy

Dr. Catherine J. Murphy holds the Larry R. Faulkner Endowed Chair in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She earned two B.S. degrees from Illinois (chemistry and biochemistry) in 1986, and her Ph.D. from Wisconsin in 1990.  After postdoctoral fellowships at Caltech, Murphy began her independent career as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of South Carolina in 1993.  After promotions to associate and full professorships at South Carolina, she was recruited back to Urbana-Champaign in 2009. Her laboratory has pioneered the colloidal synthesis of shape-controlled gold and silver nanoparticles in aqueous solution.  In the 5-100 nm range, gold and silver exhibit brilliant shape-dependent optical properties that enable applications in chemical sensing, biological, imaging, mechanically improved polymer nanocomposites, and photothermal therapy for the ablation of pathogenic cells.  She has coauthored over 250 peer-reviewed papers that have been cited 36,000 times, and has delivered more than 380 invited lectures.
Murphy’s honors include the Remsen Award of the American Chemical Society’s Maryland section (2019), the TREE (Transformational Research and Educational Excellence) Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (2015), the Carol Tyler Award of the International Precious Metals Institute (2013), and ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry’s Inorganic Nanoscience Award (2011) and numerous young investigator awards.  She is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the Materials Research Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  She was ranked #32 in Thomson Reuters Sciencewatch List of “Top 100 Chemists for the Decade 2000-2010” and #10 on their list of “Top 100 Materials Scientists of the Decade 2000-2010.”  In 2015, she was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Lee Penn

Dr. Lee Penn is Merck Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities campus and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Chemistry. My research group of eight graduate students and several undergraduate students focuses on fundamental formation and growth mechanisms of nanoparticles, green methods for making nanomaterials for catalysis and sustainable energy applications, and the roles nanoparticles play in chemical transformations in the environment.  I am also an Institute on the Environment Resident Fellow and won the Horace T. Morse University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education in 2015.  I am a Distinguished University Teaching Professor, and I am especially proud of awards I’ve received for advocacy for the LGBT community including: the Community Excellence Award from the University of Minnesota’s Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life (2017), Charlotte Stribel Equity Award from the University Office for Equity and Diversity's Women's Center (2016-2017), and Breaking the Silence Award from the University of Minnesota's Gay Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Programs Office (2014). I have a passion for building competence around diversity issues, with an emphasis on intersectionality and inclusive practices within the science and engineering communities at the University of Minnesota and beyond. I have led and co-led workshops focused on allyship, intersectionality, microaggressions, and more with students, professors, and staff members both on and off the UMN campus.


Dr. Javier Vela is a professor of chemistry at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, USA. Growing up in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Javier became interested in science during high school, particularly through his participation in the Mexican Chemistry Olympiad. After earning his B.S. (Lic.) with Honors from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 2001, Javier headed north and obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees working with Prof. Patrick L. Holland (now at Yale) at the University of Rochester in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Javier was a postdoctoral associate with Prof. Richard F. Jordan at the University of Chicago from 2005 to 2006, and a Director's Postdoctoral Fellow with Jennifer A. Hollingsworth and Victor I. Klimov at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies from 2007 to 2009. Trained as a synthetic inorganic and materials chemist, Dr. Vela’s current research focuses on new low dimensional (nanoscale) and optical (photoactive) materials, heterostructures, and devices for applications to energy conversion, chemical catalysis, and biological imaging. A faculty member at Iowa State University since 2009, Dr. Vela is a member of the editorial boards of ACS Energy Letters and Wiley's ChemNanoMat. He has been named Fellow of the AAAS (2018), IUPAC Young Observer (2017), and received the NSF CAREER Award (2013).

Javier Vela

Dr. Molly Wilker is an assistant professor of chemistry at Luther College in Decorah, IA. She earned a B.A. in Chemistry from Gustavus Adolphus College (MN), where she was introduced to undergraduate research at a liberal arts institution. Molly earned a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder, under the guidance of Gordana Dukovic. Her doctoral research focused on using semiconductor nanocrystals to drive photocatalysis. Molly has been on the faculty at Luther College since 2015 teaching physical chemistry courses and in the general chemistry program. Molly leads an active group of undergraduate research students who explore new methods for understanding and changing the surfaces of semiconductor nanocrystals for a range of applications from chemical catalysis to bioimaging. Her research group has also been engaged in interdisciplinary, collaborative projects with Luther College faculty and students in the neuroscience and biology programs. Molly is also engaged in undergraduate chemistry curriculum development both at the introductory chemistry level and for upper-division undergraduate chemistry laboratories.

Molly Wilker
Vennesa Jansma


Dr. Vincent Asiago joined DuPont Pioneer in 2010 as a Research Scientist. He is currently responsible for the Transformational Innovation Portfolio at Corteva Agriscience. He was instrumental in designing and implementation of a learning-based Innovation framework for differential management and investment of Corteva’s Transformational Portfolio that enabled a higher return on R&D investment and is expected to create substantial new business growth. The learning-based innovation model is based on a “build-measure-learn-pivot“ framework loop, designed to enable faster innovation by combining a rigorous, consistent and disciplined innovation process aligned with the corporate and business platform strategies.

Asiago is also responsible for defining, sanctioning and managing key governance processes that enable informed, transparent, effective and efficient decisions impacting the Seed Business Platform’s research programs and technology pipeline advancements.

Dr. Asiago holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Purdue University, Indiana. He is a certified Program Management Professional (PMP) and is a graduate from the Ivy college of Business School with an executive MBA program from Iowa State University, Iowa. 

Vincent M. Asiago

Dr. Vennesa Jansma joined Dow in 2013 as a Senior Chemist where she led waterborne paint formulation development, application and benchmarking efforts for various customer solutions in the Dow Coating Materials business. There, her work focused on waterborne industrial acrylic and alkyd binder systems that incorporated newly developed Dow additives (surfactants, dispersants, rheology modifiers) for Direct-to-Metal applications. Currently, Vennesa is an Associate Research Scientist in the Dow Performance Silicones business where she serves as a Commercial Excellence Project Leader on global and cross- functional teams that support the development of multiple products in the Engineered Materials product line. Additionally, Vennesa leads and champions several inclusion strategies within her business function that are aligned to the 2020 Dow corporate visions. She is also the 2019 chairwoman for the Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST) Symposium at Dow that exposes African American, Hispanic and Native American U.S. doctoral and postdoctoral scientists to the wide range of rewarding careers in industrial research, and in particular, the many opportunities at Dow.

Vennesa received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from St. John’s University, New York and her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Northwestern University. Her doctoral research focused on fast electron transporting photoanodes in dye-sensitized solar cells where she studied the effects of new electrode architectures, engineered interfaces, dyes and redox electrolytes on device performance.

Vennesa is also an ambassador for STEM education where she has lead and supported several activities within Dow, the local American Chemical Society section and throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region with organizations like NSBE and NOBCChE. Outside of work, Vennesa is a 200 hour Registered Yoga Instructor and teaches yoga at the local community center in Midland.

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Dr. Nagella Nukuna is a Technical Manager and Global Analytical leader for Interconnect Solutions and a Leveraged Analytical Sciences leader across Electronics and Imaging at DuPont.

Prior to her current role, Nagella built and lead strong Analytical teams supporting the OLED’s business in DuPont and leading early and late phase development projects at AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals.

She is the author of multiple peer reviewed publications and a recipient of multiple awards.

Nagella is a Chemistry PhD holder from Case Western Reserve University and a post-doctoral fellow from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Preventive Cardiology) where she specialized in understanding Biological interphases.

In her spare time, Nagella coaches scores of women to achieve healthy weight loss goals and attain life sustaining wellness through clean ethnic eating and dynamic functional fitness routines. 

Nagella Nukuna

Dr. Sue Woulfe received her B.S. in Biology from Barry College (now Barry University), M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Notre Dame, and Ph.D. in Immunology from Rush University.  Sue worked in pharmaceutical R&D at Monsanto, Searle, Pharmacia, and Pfizer, before joining 3M Pharmaceuticals in 2003. Her pharmaceutical career focused on molecular mechanisms related to new product development of protein and small molecule drugs and resulted in 3 drug approvals.  In 2007, Sue began a new chapter in her career leading diverse groups to develop numerous medical devices and non-health care products ranging from passive fire protection products to wireless communication devices. In 2016, she was appointed to Biomaterials Cluster Leader in 3M’s Corporate Research Materials Laboratory.  Sue holds 4 US patents and has over 20 full length publications. She is currently serving as a champion of Diversity & Inclusion in 3M’s Women’s Leadership Forum and co-leading the Technical Women’s Leadership Forum subchapter. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association. She is an avid reader, traveller, and enjoys learning.

Sue Woulfe

Government and Non-traditional

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Dr. Neha Arora is a Medical Writer at Veristat, a clinical research organization (CRO) that partners with pharmaceutical companies worldwide to help advance their medical therapies through the clinical development and regulatory submission process. As a Medical Writer, Dr. Arora is responsible for analyzing and interpreting complex and diverse scientific data obtained during clinical trials and author scientific documents at every stage of drug development (ranging from the investigational stage to the marketing stage of a drug).


Dr. Arora obtained her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Iowa State University where she investigated nanoscale dynamics of cell membrane receptors called integrins.

Neha Arora
Judith Giordan

Dr. Judith Giordan is a co-founder of the Chemical Angels Network (, Managing Director of ecosVC, Inc. ( , professor of Practice at Oregon State University, a former Fortune 100 executive and an entrepreneur. Judy serves as board member, co-founder, advisor and investor in publicly traded and seed and early stage STEM aligned startups.Her previous executive positions include Corporate Vice President and Officer/Global Director of Research and Development at International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc.;Vice-President Worldwide Research and Development for the Pepsi-Cola Company; Vice President Research andDevelopment/Corporate Officer, Henkel Corporation, the North American operating unit of the Henkel Group. She has also held management, program leadership and technical contributor positions at Polaroid and ALCOA. Examples of venture leadership start-up and Board roles include Voltage, 1ExecStreet and Qteros.Judy has served on Boards at the National Research Council and at the National Science Foundation where she has been a member of the Math and Physical Sciences Directorate Advisory Board, Member of the Chemistry Division Advisory Board, Member and Chair of the Waterman Award Committee, Member of External Visiting Committees, and as Program Director for the IGERT Program. Active in Professional Societies, examples include as a member of the Board of Directors, Committee Chair and Program co-chair at the Industrial Research Institute and the American Chemical Society; a member of the advisory group of and program leader for the Conference Board technical conferences, Educational Foundation Trustee at the Commercial Development and Marketing Assoc., and speaker and program organizer at the Angel Capital Assoc. Judy’s honors include ACS Fellow, ACS Garvan-Olin Medalist, ACS Henry Whelan Award for Management Leadership and Alexander von Humboldt Networking Award recipient. Judy has been selected as theme chair for the 2020 ACS National Meeting to be held in San Francisco – “From Bench to Market”. Judy has a BS in Environmental Science and VoTech Agriculture from Rutgers University; PhD in Chemistry from the University of Maryland; and was an Alexander von Humboldt post  doctoral fellow at the University of Frankfurt, Germany.


Dr. Kathleen Lee is a Technologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. She obtained her PhD in Chemistry in 2016 from the University of California, Davis under the mentorship of Prof. Kirill Kovnir where she worked on arsenic and phosphorus compounds for Li-ion battery and thermoelectric (TE) applications. After graduating, she joined the Thermal Energy Conversion Research & Advancement group at JPL where she worked first as a postdoctoral researcher, then as a contractor, and in late 2018, converted to Technologist. As a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher, she focused primarily on the synthesis and characterization of materials, but her work gradually became more application-based. She currently works on insulation process development for the enhanced Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG), metallization and interface chemistry for TE device fabrication, and is the lead of the Thermal Insulation Task for the Next Generation RTG.

Kathleen Lee

Dr. Marilu Perez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants and 1st generation college graduate, grew up in Southern Idaho. She received her Associate of Science degree at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) and a Bachelor of Science degree from Idaho State University. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry along with research and teaching excellence awards from Iowa State University in 2014. Her graduate work included determining the molecular structure of plant cell walls using solid-state NMR, using electronic structure theory to model malonic acid clusters in keto and enol forms to better understand how it is thought to exist in atmospheric conditions, and developing an educational tool for evaluating undergraduate students’ understanding of quantum chemistry. Dr. Perez is now an Associate Scientist at the Critical Materials Institute at Ames Laboratory where she does research on rare earth elements and is leading a team of scientists studying molecular magnetism. In her spare time, she tutors at CSI, volunteers on her city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and stays up-to-date with current events by listening to science, economics, sociology, and psychology podcasts.

Marilu Perez

Jamie Schwarzbach (MS, MBA) is currently a Global Marketing Program Manager focused on synthetic biology at Twist Bioscience, the leaders in DNA synthesis. She manages yearly strategic planning of marketing campaigns, across multiple product lines, which include positioning, messaging, and value propositions. In past roles, she’s worked in account management, technical marketing and market research in the biotechnology, nutraceuticals, and renewable energy industries. Before she moved to marketing, her research focus was on natural product and novel peptide synthesis.

Jamie earned her Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Science & Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno. Along with her undergraduate and graduate curricula, she was a Division I track and field athlete and a member of the Nevada Cycling Team, respectively. She is currently a Member of the National Younger Chemists Committee, part of the American Chemical Society.

Jamie Schwarzbach