Maryland Section

Maryland Section of American Chemical Society                           Celebrates its 104-year History


  Did you know that if you drank a Coca Cola in 1914 you would be getting a healthy shot of Cocaine along with your soda or if you bumped across the states unpaved paths that year in

your Model T Ford, you might be dreaming about a road with some type of smooth paved surface like asphalt.  

 Chemistry has changed lives in the last 104 years in Maryland?  In October of 1914 the Maryland Section of American Chemical Society held its first meeting to help scientists deal with real world problems through improvements in Chemistry.  Since that time chemists have made dramatic accomplishments that have changed the lives and life spans in every area of modern existence.  For example, in Agriculture, Farmers in Maryland have doubled and then doubled again the crop production on each acre of land from advances in agriculture in the state since 1914.  

Try to go for one hour without touching a piece of plastic and imagine how this simple chemical invention has revolutionized our daily lives in the last 104 years.  Think about how you great grandparents faced the life threatened effects of Polio or treated infections without antibiotics.  Chemistry is an integral part of our daily lives, just as it was 104 years ago. 

The Maryland Section of American Chemical Society held a 100th Anniversary Gala at the Maryland Science Center on Friday, Oct. 17th, 2014 with a Maryland Governor’s Proclamation delivered by Dr. Robert M. Summers, Secretary Maryland Depart of the Environment and a keynote addresses by Bill Carroll Director-at-Large, Chair of the Board American Chemical Society. 

2014 BRAUDE AWARD, Dr. Keri-Beth Pettengill

Dr. Keri-Beth Pettengill, Director of the Bioprocessing Technology Program at Frederick Community College received the Prestigious Braude Award at the 2014th E!00th Year celebration event. This was the first time a faculty member from a two year institution had been


This prestigious award honors outstanding academic faculty who contribute to significant research accomplishments in Maryland in memory of the outstanding chemist George Braude who founded the award.

The Maryland Section continues to celebrate the accomplishments of advances in chemistry through the accomplishments of its members. They are on the forefront promoting opportunities for education and advancement in chemistry.

The Maryland Section Charter established in 1914 is shown below:


History of ACS Local Sections

Before 1914, the nearest ACS Section was the Washington Section. If you think that Route 95 is tough to travel today, travel between Baltimore and Washington was undoubtedly even more difficult in the early part of the 20th century. In 1911, a group of chemists headed by Ira Remsen, then the president of Johns Hopkins,founded the Baltimore branch of the 

Washington Section. And, in 1914, they decided to found the Maryland Section.

The official petition for the Maryland section founding, addressed to the Council of the American Chemical Society, was dated June 1, 1914. It stated that the headquarters would be in Baltimore, and it bore twenty

signatures of Baltimore area chemists.   Among them was W. D. Penniman, whos  engineering company  (Penniman & Browns, Inc., Chemists, Engineers and Inspectors, Falls Road) is still in business.


The first Maryland section meeting...   

 The new section meeting was held on October 10, 1914, at Hopkins Hall. It was called to order by C. P. Van Gundy (another one of the twenty petition signers) at 8:30 PM. The constitution and by-laws of the Baltimore Branch of the Washington Section was adopted, with “such changes as are necessary”, by the Maryland Section. An election of officers followed - the aforementioned W. B. D. Penniman and C. Glaser were nominated for chairman, and W. B. D. Penniman was elected. Also, J. C. W. Frazer was chosen to be vice-chairman, F. M. Boyles became secretary-treasurer while C P. Van Gundy and J. H. Shrader became members of the executive committee. Dr. Glaser presented a paper entitled “The Catalytic Decomposition of Bornyl Chloride by Copper” (Bornyl Chloride: 3-chloro-4,7,7-trimethylbicyclo[2.2.1]heptane). The meeting adjourned at 10 P.M.; the attendance was 31.


    Increase in academic and Industrial laboratories

           lead to an increase in membership...

The total membership of the section in 1914 was 90 members; it is about 2000 today. There is a good reason for this increase: there are many more chemists in the area served by the section than there were in 1914. They work in the numerous academic, industrial and government laboratories in the area. Here are few examples:

The McCormick Co. was founded in 1889, so it was well established by 1914. Since then, the W. R Grace Co. and the Millennium Inorganic Chemicals (formerly SCM Corporation), Becton-Dickinson. Gascoyne Laboratories and Guilford Pharmaceuticals (to name only a few), have arrived.

Examples of government laboratories within the section are Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Edgewood, the Maryland State Department of Health, Frederick Cancer Research Center and the State Police Crime Laboratory and, of course, the Maryland Section is home to many outstanding academic institutions: universities, four-year colleges and community colleges. All of these places have a history or excellence in research (and the academic institutions excel in teaching, also). It is not surprising that many world-famous products (e.g. Saccharin, Mercurochrome, Bromo-Seltzer and Bufferin) were discovered within the boundaries of the section



C₇H₅NO₃S                     C₂₀H₈Br₂HgNa₂O₆           C33H41BrKN6NaO16     CH3COOC6H4COOH


 Bromo-Seltzer, was a brand of     antacid to relieve pain occurring   together with heartburn, upset   stomach, or acid indigestion. First   produced by inventor Isaac E.   Emerson's drug company of   Baltimore, Maryland, in 1888,   Bromo-Seltzer was sold in the   United States in the form of   effervescent granules which must be mixed with   water before ingestion. You can visit the tower!

The Maryland Section Today…

Today, the Maryland section is as active as ever. The regular meetings begun on October 10, 1914, are still held. The section co-sponsors the annual, highly prestigious Remsen Award with The Johns Hopkins University; recipients have gone onto win Nobel Prizes. In 2017, however, we had a Nobel Laureate win the Remsen award. One of the most important goals of the Section is to reach out to the young chemists of the future. The section has a very strong outreach programs for K-12 students and supports graduate and undergraduate students in their chemistry careers and scientific research. Some of the events include: (l) Annual awards to an outstanding chemistry student at each academic institution within the section, (2) Active participation in National Chemistry week, (3) Annual sponsoring awards and programs for high school teachers, (4) Annual participating in the US National Chemistry Olympiad, co-sponsored by the national office of the ACS and (5) annual Awards to distinguished  chemist in the nation and in Maryland area ( the Maryland Chemist of the Year Award). In recent years, the section has established a program recognizing individuals for 50/60/70 years of membership in ACS and for their valuable contribution to the chemistry field.

The Maryland section has indeed had a distinguished past, and it looks forward to an even brighter and more productive future.


Page updated:  February 24, 2018

Writers:  Dr. James Saunders (Section Chair-2014),

               Ernie Silversmith (Morgan State University, June 1, 2001)

Editors/Contributors: Merle Weis, Councilor (editor)

                                     Beatrice Salazar, Chair-2018 (update, editing, design, pictures)

        About the American Chemical Society

 The American Chemical Society (ACS)   is the world’s largest scientific society       and one of the world’s leading sources   of authoritative scientific information. A   nonprofit organization, chartered by   Congress. ACS is at the forefront of the evolving worldwide chemical enterprise and the premier professional home for chemists, chemical engineers and related professions around the globe.