Archive for the ‘Future of Chemistry’ Category

Questionnaire Answers from Dr. Diane Schmidt, Candidate for ACS President-Elect

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Earlier this month, ChemBark sent a questionnaire to the three current candidates for ACS President-Elect. The set of questions was similar to the set distributed last year that Tom Barton was kind enough to answer.

ChemBark is publishing each candidate’s response—complete and unedited—in dedicated posts. Dr. Chuck Kolb’s answers and Dr. Bryan Balazs answers ran in previous posts. The next candidate to respond is Dr. Diane Schmidt (whose response was delayed due to jury duty). Her answers appear below.

Don’t forget to vote in the ACS national elections!

 

Response of Dr. Diane Schmidt, Candidate for ACS President-Elect

1. What are your thoughts about the historically low voter turnout (~15%) typical of ACS national elections?

Apathy is difficult to cure. One suggestion would be to have greater publicity in C&EN (perhaps a cover article) to raise the profile and awareness of the national elections. The option to vote electronically does not appear to have had the impact of  greater participation in the national elections that was expected.

2. What is your stance regarding the fees that ACS Publications charges companies and universities to access journals?

Journal pricing is complex and is probably best understood by dealing in specifics for specific schools and companies rather than generalities.  When I get these questions, I always refer people to Pubs.  In many cases there are custom solutions that can be crafted for individual circumstances.

My view is that ACS journals offer high value and high impact at competitive pricing. The quality and the value of the trusted, peer reviewed information provided by ACS journals is a very good value vs. other publishers.

3. What is your stance on the ACS’s executive compensation packages?

Full transparency is important. Perhaps a C&EN comment on the process that is used would help get everyone on the same page as to what is actually in place and the process that is used to determine compensation.

You may remember that the Board held a town meeting on Executive Compensation after Council in Fall, 2005, and perhaps a refresher is in order via a C&EN comment. C&EN calls attention to the ACS Form 990 filing each year and tells readers how to access that document on acs.org. Here’s the link to the 990 notice on page 6 of C&EN.

http://www.cendigital.org/cendigital/20121210??pg=8&search term=990&doc id=-1&search term=990#pg8 

4. What are your thoughts on the recent ACS vs. Leadscope case? Do you believe that society records pertaining to the lawsuit—including legal fees—should be made public?

Full transparency is important.

The background as I recall is that all public reports on Leadscope in the early days were modulated by the fact that it was active litigation.  The events relating to the litigation go back to 1998. For a long time, virtually nothing happened, then there was the trial.

For nearly a year after the settlement in 2012, an extensive Q&A was advertised on the front page of the ACS website. It can still be found at:

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/aboutacs/acs-v-leadscope-questions-and-answers.html

One of the difficulties I think with this case is it spanned quite a number of years perhaps making it difficult to follow. My impression is there were regular updates in C&EN over the course of the legal proceedings as the case unfolded, reports in Council of the case status by the Chair of the Board, as well as updates in the Councilor Bulletin. Perhaps a summary in C&EN tying all of the bits and pieces together that were published over time as the case unfolded would be helpful with links to the publically available information. My understanding is that the Chair of the Board reports which include Leadscope are posted on the ACS website.

The most recent report on Leadscope and the financial impact on ACS was by the Chair of the Board  and was presented in Council last Spring. I believe his remarks are posted on the ACS web.

My understanding is that the proceedings of this case are in the public record. To read a summary of the case prepared by the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Office of Public Information, click here: http://www.courtnewsohio.gov/cases/2012/SCO/0918/101335.asp

5. What one specific item would you, as ACS President, make your first priority to improve the public perception of chemistry?

Outreach. Chemistry improves the lives of all. Communicating specific examples such as chemistry’s role in clean water, food safety, medicinal improvements, diagnostic techniques, etc.  that the general public experiences daily, but does not identify as chemistry. This would help make the connection between the role of chemistry and the improvements the general public experiences in daily life because of the contributions of chemists and chemistry. The ACS Landmarks Program does this to some degree. During the International Year of Chemistry, many examples of how chemistry improves life daily were posted on the ACS website. There is an opportunity to go the next step and more broadly communicate these.

6. What one specific item would you, as ACS President, make your first priority to improve the employment situation for chemists?

Ensure that all members and all chemists know of and have access to the many ACS employment tools and services already in place. Work with staff and members to further enhance, expand and improve these tools.

7. What is your favorite chemical compound with respect to color or smell?

My favorite chemical compound is caffeine, especially delivered in chocolate. It was my first total synthesis as an undergraduate.

Questionnaire Answers from Dr. Bryan Balazs, Candidate for ACS President-Elect

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Earlier this month, ChemBark sent a questionnaire to the three current candidates for ACS President-Elect. The set of questions was similar to the set distributed last year that Tom Barton was kind enough to answer.

ChemBark will publish each candidate’s response—complete and unedited—in dedicated posts. Dr. Chuck Kolb’s answers ran last week. The next candidate to respond is Dr. Bryan Balazs. His answers appear below.

Don’t forget to vote in the ACS national elections!

Edit: This post has been corrected to include the correct spelling of “Balazs”. (We regret the error!)

 

Response of Dr. Bryan Balazs, Candidate for ACS President-Elect

Hi Paul,

With the excitement of the Nobel prizes now (somewhat) behind us, here are my responses to your questions posed below.  Let me know if there are any statements that need additional clarification, and thanks for the opportunity to address your readership on these important topics.

Cheers,
Bryan

PS:  If the answers are too long, I can shorten them.

 

1. What are your thoughts about the historically low voter turnout (~15%) typical of ACS national elections?

I wish this were a higher percentage, as elections are the opportunity for all members to have a voice in who will be the representative of their Society to the membership, to the public, to government, and to other countries.  The ACS is the largest scientific society in the world and with this size come challenges in effective engagement with the membership.  The candidates do have different strengths, backgrounds, and platforms, and the ACS President definitely can influence the future of the Society.  What the low turnout tells us is either: A) members do not follow the elections or care about the outcome, B) the reason they are ACS members is unlikely to be influenced very much by who the President is, or C) members do not know any of the candidates and don’t wish to participate in an election without having an informed vote.  If would like to understand the relative influence of each of these three possibilities, and if there are other reasons  Until we get this information, what can we do in the meantime to improve this?  Here are a few ideas I would like to suggest:  1. The members don’t get many opportunities to interact with the candidates and vice versa. The current election rules are very restrictive and so, we should explore ways for the candidates to reach out to members, and the ACS could provide more resources for the candidates to facilitate this; 2. To make it easier to vote, ACS should move towards a default of electronic voting rather than the current paper ballot with an option to vote online; 3. Members who vote can influence and encourage friends and colleagues to vote.  This sounds simple but can have a huge effect in the voting rates; and finally 4. We can nurture voting regularity in younger members by providing some kind of membership incentives as a result of voting.

2. What is your stance regarding the fees that ACS Publications charges companies and universities to access journals?

I have heard from many members, especially those at small colleges or companies that the journal prices are raising at an unsustainable rate for them and they wish that there were other pricing options.  This is indeed a problem not only for ACS publications but also other publications like Nature, to the point where universities are considering boycotting journal subscriptions.  Also, there has been an increase in open access journals, a trend ACS has to keep in mind. While there should be no restrictions in the spread of knowledge, unfortunately, publishing and circulation of these journals (both online and physical copies) does come with costs.  We need to explore ways to keep these costs under control, and academia, industry and the scientific societies need to have a serious dialogue on this issue.  This needs to happen because it directly affects our members.

3. What is your stance on the ACS’s executive compensation packages?

Within any organization, the pay that an employee receives should correspond to the value that this employee provides to the organization, and the ACS should be no different.  All salaries must be benchmarked against market conditions, keeping in mind that the ACS is a complex non-profit organization with over 160,000 members, about 2000 staff members, and about a billion dollars in assets.  Executive compensation packages should reflect this, and the ACS has been very transparent about this information; see https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/aboutacs/financial.html (see part VII in the 2011 IRS Form 990 for info on executive compensation).

4. What are your thoughts on the recent ACS vs. Leadscope case?  Do you believe that society records pertaining to the lawsuit—including legal fees—should be made public?

I am familiar with only the basic facts of the case, such as those published by the ACS in C&EN or in the Councilor bulletins.  To be honest, I really don’t have a strong opinion in this case, but it sounds like the ACS made logical decisions as the legal process unfolded.  The ACS has said that the legal judgment against the ACS will not affect member dues or benefits, and I take their word on this.

5. What one specific item would you, as ACS President, make your first priority to improve the public perception of chemistry?

The public listens to celebrities and other people in the public spotlight, and I believe we should tap into this.  Many of these people are enthusiastic about science, so why not partner with them to help spread the message about the value of chemistry (science in general)?  I think having actor Alan Alda at the recent national meeting in Indianapolis was a superb idea, and I would do more of this.

6. What one specific item would you, as ACS President, make your first priority to improve the employment situation for chemists?

This is a complex issue, but ACS can do a better job of bridging the employers with new opportunities (employees).  My thoughts are as follows:

There is no doubt that chemists are in a competitive job market in the current challenging economic times.  In my opinion, applicants need three things to land a job: 1) they need to find out about job openings (this goes without saying), 2) they need to have the required skills for the job, and 3) they need to outshine the competition when it comes to the application and interview process.  The ACS needs stronger efforts for its members in each of these areas.  Quite frankly, the ACS does not do a very good job at identifying for its members where the jobs are and who IS hiring (item number 1).  This can be improved by coming up with a database of websites that ACS member can use to locate the jobs that they might be qualified for, including companies that are “non-traditional” employers of chemists.  With item number 2, skills, I feel that in the fast changing competition from talent around the world, we need to constantly encourage our students and work force to keep learning new skills, even while in a job.  One of the latest trends in our education system is the onset of online courses.  I will extend my efforts to explore collaborations between ACS and institutions offering such courses to benefit our members.  For item number 3, the ACS has good resources to help members polish their resume, work through the application process, etc., but surprisingly few members take advantage of these resources.  We need to find out why, and we need to improve this.  One of the areas we can improve is to offer online services for those seeking help with item number 3.

7. What is your favorite chemical compound with respect to color or smell?

I have lots of favorite chemicals and elements, but one that comes to mind is malachite green, or [C6H5C(C6H4N(CH3)2)2]Cl.  My organic chemistry professor in college, who had a rather mischievous sense of humor, had the students synthesize malachite green in the organic lab around St. Patrick’s Day.  Malachite green is a very intense dye, and the end result of all these students synthesizing this compound was that the hallways of the chemistry building turned green, and students’ furniture, clothes, bedsheets, and so forth had a green tinge.  Pretty amusing, unless of course you had a car with white leather seats…!

Questionnaire Answers from Dr. Charles Kolb, Candidate for ACS President-Elect

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Earlier this month, ChemBark sent a questionnaire to the three current candidates for ACS President-Elect. The set of questions was similar to the set distributed last year that Tom Barton was kind enough to answer.

ChemBark will publish each candidate’s response—complete and unedited—in dedicated posts. The first candidate to respond was Dr. Chuck Kolb. His response appears below. (The answers of Dr. Bryan Balazs can be found in this thread.)

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Response of Dr. Chuck Kolb, Candidate for ACS President-Elect

Paul:

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to the important questions you have distributed to candidates for 2014 ACS President-Elect. My initial responses are listed after each of your questions below. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I expect to be more deeply involved with the ACS Board of Directors and executive staff as we deal with several of the issues you have raised. I look forward to learning more about them during my “apprentice” year as President-Elect.

Regards,
Chuck

 

1. What are your thoughts about the historically low voter turnout (~15%) typical of ACS national elections?

A much higher voter participation rate in ACS elections would be a very healthy development. It would help ensure that issues of direct importance to members, not just to ACS’s governance volunteers, have the highest priority. Some ACS governance debates have an “inside the beltway” flavor that might seem strange to a majority of our members. However, this is not just and ACS problem, I belong to several other scientific societies with similar voter participation levels in their elections. Scientists and engineers are busy people and will not spend time on things that believe might not be very important or where they do not know what is at stake.

To do better we need to be sure the voting procedure is easy and quick and that the voters know what is at stake. I think that recent advances in on‐line voting are addressing the first requirement. I believe that greater transparency and more effective communication from the ACS Board of Directors, including the presidential succession members, might address the second requirement. If elected, I will advocate that ACS’s Board prepare and publish an annual “report card” to the members where they summarize the major issues they are addressing, what they have accomplished in the reporting year and what they intend to do in the coming year.

2. What is your stance regarding the fees that ACS Publications charges companies and universities to access journals?

I am very concerned about the escalation in journal subscription costs. Particularly their impact on both smaller and/or poorer academic institutions and smaller businesses, that need access to compete effectively, but really struggle to meet ever increasing fees. This is a serious problem in the U.S., but an even more serious problem in the developing world. For this and other reasons I believe that scientific publishing will soon be dominated by open access journals and that the ACS needs to work very hard to figure out how to meet that challenge while maintaining adequate revenue to sustain the quantity and quality of our publications.

3. What is your stance on the ACS’s executive compensation packages?

ACS’s senior executive staff is very well compensated. To some extent this is understandable because ACS is a large and complex organization that requires highly capable full‐time professional management, despite the uncompensated leadership and management skills of its thousands of volunteer members who play key governance roles. Also, ACS must compete with both for‐profit and other non‐profit science based organizations for executive talent, and their leaders’ compensation is generally at historic highs.

Organizational transparency is required to keep this issue in perspective and under control. I agree with Tom Barton, ACS’s current President‐Elect, who recommended an annual report on ACS executive staff compensation levels and their rationale, including available comparisons with similar positions at other major scientific societies, be published annually in C&E News, when responding to ChemBark on this question last year.

4. What are your thoughts on the recent ACS vs. Leadscope case? Do you believe that society records pertaining to the lawsuit—including legal fees—should be made public?

A similar question was asked of each of the four initial 2014 President‐ Elect candidates at our candidate’s forum during the 2013 Spring ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. I was the only candidate who stated directly that the Leadscope suit was a clear and costly mistake. It resulted in very serious monetary losses, for both judgment penalties and legal fees. It also tarnished the ACS’s reputation for fairness and sound business practices.

Since then, Bill Carroll, Chair of ACS’s Board of Directors did publish, in C&E News, a summary explanation of the case and its costs addressed to ACS members. At this point I am less interested in debating whether Bill’s summary was fully transparent than I am in working to ensure that both ACS’s professional and volunteer leaders learned from this mistake and that both will react more effectively if facing similar challenges in the future.

5. What one specific item would you, as ACS President, make your first priority to improve the public perception of chemistry?

Many ACS members are skilled teachers, educating both future chemists and a much larger number of future voters and societal leaders. Recognizing their importance, I proposed the following in my candidate’s statement:

“ACS needs to continue helping educators at all levels to effectively present the beauty of fundamental chemistry. But we also need to help them convey the critical role chemistry can and must play to sustain and enhance our economy, security, health and environment. ACS’s education oriented staff and committees have started addressing this challenge; their efforts need to be supported and expanded, so the large fraction of ACS members who teach can be engaged and empowered.”

If elected, I will work hard with other interested members to promote this strategy.

6. What one specific item would you, as ACS President, make your first priority to improve the employment situation for chemists?

I will work to ensure under-employed and unemployed chemists, as well as ACS members in general, are informed enough by ACS programming, publications, webinars, etc. to exploit the opportunities they will have to address critical societal challenges that require need better chemistry to be successfully addressed. My candidate’s statement describes the challenge of helping ACS members be prepared to “seize the future:”

“Nearly all of the critical challenges facing our world have significant chemical components. ACS must help our current and future members better understand how their vision and their skills can contribute to a more prosperous and sustainable future. The fact that too many ACS members are unemployed or under‐employed, while most global challenges need chemical insight and innovation to be addressed successfully, is a travesty. ACS needs to develop more effective ways to help current and future members orient their interests and capabilities to successfully address critical problems. ACS also needs to motivate both private and public investments to ensure resources exist to fund the science needed for progress.”

7. What is your favorite chemical compound with respect to color or smell?

My favorite chemical color is the blue-green patina of copper sulfate that I first noticed on the architectural surfaces in the coal-burning town where I grew up. That colorful corrosion first showed me that the atmosphere contained invisible, but powerful, chemicals that probably had other important effects beyond turning church roofs blue-green, leading to a career long fascination with atmospheric chemistry.

UK to Slash Funding for Organic Synthesis

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

This is going to get ugly.

The United Kingdom’s EPSRC—akin to the NSF in the United States—is going to slash the funding of research in synthetic organic chemistry.  In response, the country’s synthetic organic chemists have taken to the streets and set fire to several buildings written a short letter to Prime Minister David Cameron expressing their frustration.

This battle has been shaping up for a long time, and it looks as though it is finally coming to a head.   I think there are tenable arguments in support of both sides of the issue; any decision simply boils down to where your priorities lie.

On the anti-synthesis side, you have those who feel that organic synthesis has reached an area of diminishing returns.  Proponents of the cuts will argue that organic synthesis is a mature field where new advances are modest and unlikely to have major industrial applications.  You also have those who believe that total synthesis—which still seems to constitute a major focus of research in this field—is a largely fruitless exercise where molecules ostensibly made for potential therapeutic activity are actually made just for the sake of making nasty-looking molecules.

While many people do question whether organic synthesis is still interesting, the strongest argument against it probably runs closer to a cost-benefit analysis…  Yes, synthesis can be interesting, but science funding is a zero-sum game and there are other areas of research that are more interesting and/or valuable to society.  I have to think that the recent downturn in the pharmaceutical industry—including the shuttering of Pfizer’s R&D operation in Sandwich—probably strengthens this argument.  The supporters of the budget realignment can argue that we should scale down the training of synthetic chemists now that there are fewer jobs for them.  There are also people who believe that the demise of natural products synthesis in academia has been unreasonably delayed by the historical popularity of the field and the large population of practicing synthetic chemists who stand to benefit by protecting it (e.g., making sure grants for it get funded, etc.)

On the pro-synthesis (anti-realignment) side, you have those who defend the field by pointing out its historical importance, its sustained popularity, its direct applicability to industry, and its potential application in medicine.  With respect to the new criteria for funding, pro-synthesis people can argue the chemistry projects that should be funded are the ones that represent the best science—regardless of the sub-field.  In other words, the synthetic projects that were funded in the past were funded because they were the best projects proposed.  Slashing funding to synthesis will leave these talented chemists out in the cold and will lead to the funding of scientifically inferior projects in other sub-disciplines of chemistry.

Another argument against the realignment in funding is that politicians are messing with scientific funding based on possible misperceptions about various projects’ potential economic value.  The letter to Cameron stresses that the government is overlooking the many contributions of organic synthesis to the UK’s economy.  It should also be noted that EPSRC’s definition of “synthetic organic chemistry” goes beyond total synthesis to include areas like supramolecular chemistry.

It’ll be interesting to see how this battle ends.  If one thing is certain, it is that governments are becoming less shy about dictating how science funding is allocated.  That is, legislators are getting more involved in selecting what types of projects can (and can’t) be funded.  Many people feel that the decision of what science projects to fund should be left to scientists, who are experts in their fields, but the fact of the matter is that science funding is an appropriation of taxpayer money.  Legislators—who are elected by the taxpayers to act in their proxy—definitely have the authority to place specific constraints on science funding and are not necessarily acting against the best interests of society by limiting how this money is spent.

If nothing else, this latest news provides yet another reason for chemists not to ignore the broader public when it comes to justifying their work and communicating its value.

Birthday Meditation

Friday, March 18th, 2011

I recently watched Ken Burns’ documentary on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and it was truly excellent.  Perhaps the thing that I found most interesting from the film was an entry that expedition leader Merriweather Lewis made in his journal on the occasion of his 31st birthday:

This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existance, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.

I turned 31 this month, and over the course of the past year, I’ve felt many of the same sentiments as Lewis.  If I dropped dead tomorrow, there is no question in my mind that I would have had a net negative impact on the world.  I’ve essentially been in school for my entire life, chewing through a variety of taxpayer money in the form of (free) public education, competitive scholarships & fellowships, and grant money.  There’s also the many man-hours of time I’ve sapped from the workforce by way of the training provided by my parents, teachers, and mentors.  In contrast, my contributions to the world (e.g., teaching and a smattering of research papers) have been fairly insignificant.  My body of published research has little chance of helping anyone besides, perhaps, a couple of random souls in the future who are (more than likely) also working on projects of little importance to society at large.

Perhaps this waste and my unease can be written off as unavoidable costs of growing up, but the funny thing is that—unless one actively puts his mind to doing so—it seems pretty difficult to break out of such a cycle.  I mean, look around you.  How much of academic research truly excites you?  What percentage of papers in today’s journals will be especially helpful for more than twenty people, ever?  How many will go completely uncited—or even unread?  Is this what you want to spend your life doing?

I’ve asked this question before, but I’ll ask it again:  What is the greatest achievement in chemistry of the past 10 years?  20 years?  30 years?  Genome sequencing techniques, maybe?  Gleevec?  If that’s all we can bring to the table over such a long period, we’re in trouble.  Lack of production—not in terms of insipid papers, but in terms of compelling advances that benefit society—is going to make it increasingly difficult to justify our current level of taxpayer funding.  If steep budget cuts can happen to NASA’s human spaceflight program, they sure as hell can happen to chemistry.  We’ll probably find this out if we keep spinning our wheels.

Is there hope on the horizon?  I don’t know.  It seems like most of the cattle coming out of the barn are heading right down the same path as those before them.  Many areas of modern research have been tapped almost dry scientifically, but people continue to line up to fight over the scraps.  The academic system of chemistry has become some weird game where there are all of these expectations of what you should be doing.  These expectations keep people busy doing a whole lot of nothing, like publishing a bunch of boring/worthless papers to get more money so they can publish more boring/worthless papers.

What is the point of getting an academic job—or any job in research, for that matter—if you are not going to work on problems that stand to provide significant benefits to mankind?  Part of me understands why washed up professors continue to work on overfarmed land—they were there first.  What I can’t understand is how freshly minted assistant professors can start out working on crap projects.  Why bother?  I assume it’s simply because these people want the status of being a professor, so perhaps hiring committees are to blame?

Or maybe it’s the funding agencies?  I am not advocating cutting back on the funding of scientific research, but you can count me among the people who believe that we need to modify the way we fund this research.  I’d like to see fewer people rewarded for “playing the game” and producing a whole lot of insipid garbage rather than those who have got bold new ideas, even if they are associated with decreased chances of “success”.

Industry has its own problems.  Pharma is neck-deep in an area of diminishing returns for how it discovers drugs, and the industry is shedding weight like a cancer patient.  Of course, not everyone seems to care.  Grad students continue to pile into total synthesis labs, and our flagship news weekly runs pieces titled “Chemistry: Alive and Well”.  Chemistry is alive, but is it really well? 

I’m not as concerned that we’re in the doldrums as I am that no one seems especially motivated to get out.  But who am I kidding?  I’m sure as hell not going to change the broken system.  People have been saying things like “pharma is broken” and “total synthesis is dead” for years, but nothing has stopped their slow march into oblivion.  The only thing I can control is what I do, and I’d prefer not to spend the rest of my life polishing turds.

Getting back to Merriweather Lewis…the Corps of Discovery’s expedition would go down in history as one of the greatest feats of human exploration and of immense national importance to his fledgling country.  In taking such a grand risk, Lewis unquestionably achieved his goal of “advanc[ing] the information of the succeeding generation”.  Unfortunately, he never reached his predicted lifespan of 62.  Rather, Lewis put a bullet in his head at the ripe old age of 35.

Programming Note: Future of Women in Chemistry

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

There is a virtual conference on “The Future of Women in Chemistry and Science” today at 11 am (EST). You can watch it here.

Some big names will be speaking, including ACS president Nancy Jackson, ACS executive director Madeleine Jacobs, Caltech prof Jackie Barton, MIT prof Milly Dresselhaus, Wisconsin prof Laura Kiessling, Carbon-Based Curiosities blogger Jes Sherman, and origin-of-life superstar Felisa Wolfe-Simon.

Depending on what is said, I may just decide to grab the third-rail of scientific politics and write a follow up post later this week.