Highlights from the 229th ECS Meeting

Over 2,309 people from 30 countries attended the 229th ECS Meeting in San Diego, California, May 29 – June 2, 2016. This was ECS’s first return visit to San Diego since 1998. Participants could choose from over 2,200 presentations.

Plenary Session

ECS President Daniel Scherson welcomed attendees to the meeting during Monday evening’s Plenary Session. In addition to wrapping up the first full day of technical sessions and honoring award winners, Scherson introduced everyone to what would be a major theme throughout the meeting: Free the Science.

“This is a monumental meeting for ECS,” Scherson said. “Today is the official launch of our Free the Science initiative.”

Free the Science

ECS Executive Director Roque Calvo gave those in attendance a first look at the Society’s Free the Science initiative during the Plenary Session. Free the Science aims to provide complete open access to the ECS Digital Library – free for authors, readers, and libraries.

“The sciences we represent provides solutions to worldwide problems in energy, water, health, and general planet sustainability,” Calvo said. “It’s never been more important to advance our science, so I couldn’t be more excited about our future which will be propelled by the Free the Science initiative.”

Scientific publishing is a multi-billion dollar industry, but little of that money is reinvested in the scientists actually conducting the research. Fees associated with publishing and accessing papers often create barriers that inhibit the discoverability of research and ultimately the advancement of science. Free the Science seeks to remove these fees, so scientists can share their work with readers around the world, allowing more minds to think about and solve problems.

Free the Science, when it is fully implemented, will be a remarkable legacy for ECS in the scientific publishing arena, but it will be fruitless if we don’t concentrate on what we are good at,” Calvo said. “That is exchanging information at meetings like this, recognizing achievements in our field, supporting young scientists, and offering educational programs. All of these things, along with your support of our journals, will allow ECS to successfully free the science and ultimately accelerate progress.”

The ECS Lecture

Seeing, Measuring and Understanding Vesicular Exocytosis of Neurotransmitters” was the title of the ECS Lecture given by Christian Amatore, Director of Research at École Normale Supérieure and CNRS. His talk focused on obtaining and investigating chromaffin cells, which release adrenaline into the blood stream. The goal of Amatore’s work is essentially to derive topological, energetic, and dynamic information about vesicular exocytotic phenomena.

Science for Solving Society’s Problems Challenge: Grant Winners

In its first Science for Solving Society’s Problems Challenge in 2014, ECS partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to leverage the brainpower of many scientists in electrochemistry and solid state science and technology. The grantees of that challenge presented their work during the 229th ECS Meeting and addressed how they are applying electrochemistry to global issues in water, sanitation, and hygiene that affect more than two billion people worldwide.

“This program has infused our work with more added energy and purpose,” said E.J. Taylor, symposia moderator and treasurer of ECS. “This has been very exciting for sustainability issues.”

Through the program, ECS awarded over $360,000 of seed funding to seven innovative research projects. Grant winners highlighted their work through a general overview, oral presentations, and a poster session.

Carl Hensman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation delivered the keynote address for the symposia, where he discussed the risks associate with innovation and how we can detect and break down roadblocks.

“I always challenge people who say it’s not possible,” Hensman said. “People thought cars were pointless: too expensive, too complex, no possibility for a fueling network. But everything comes with risk, and we have the potential to reduce that risk.”

Presenters included:

  • Eric Wachsman, University of Maryland
    Sustainable Water Treatment Using an SOFC-Based Combined Heat and Power System
  • Gemma Reguera, Michigan State University
    SPEED: Sanitation and Processing for Energy with Electrochemical Devices
  • Plamen Atanassov, University of New Mexico
    Self-Powered Supercapacitive Microbial Fuel Cell
  • Neus Sabaté, Institut de Microelectrónica de Barcelona
    powerPAD: Non-Toxic Capillary-Based Flow Battery for Single Use Applications
  • Jörg Kretzschmar on behalf of Falk Harnisch, Helmholtz Centre for Environment Research
    eLatrines: Development of a Fully Cardboard based Microbial Fuel Cell for Pit Latrines
  • Luis Godinez, CIDETEQ
    In-Situ Electrochemical Generation of the Fenton Reagent for the Treatment of Human Wastewater
  • Gerardine Botte, Ohio University
    Electrochemical Disinfection of Wastewater Using Urea Electrolysis
Award Highlights

The Vittorio de Nora Award was presented to Ralph E. White. White is currently a professor at the University of South Carolina. His work focuses on fuel cells, batteries, electrodeposition, and corrosion.

The Vittorio de Nora Award was established in 1971 to recognize distinguished contributions to the field of electrochemical engineering and technology.

The Henry B. Linford Award for Distinguished Teaching was presented to John R. Scully. Scully’s research focuses on standards of living and safety through understanding the scientific mechanisms of corrosion while preventing and protecting against corrosion phenomena.

Scully was unable to attend the meeting and will be delivering his award address during PRiME 2016.

The Henry B. Linford Award for Distinguished Teaching was established in 1981 for excellence in teaching in subject areas of interest to the Society.

The Leadership Circle Award recognized Princeton Applied Research/Solartron Analytical at the gold level and Faraday Technology, Inc., Metrohm USA, and Pine Research Instrumentation at the silver level.

There were eight division and section awards:

Free the Science 5K

The weather was prefect for the Free the Science 5K. The first place male winner was Daniel Esposito from Columbia University. The first place female winner was Katherine Ayers from Proton Energy Systems, Inc.

Edison Theatre

ECS’s Edison Theatre offers scientists an opportunity to take their research and transform it into hands-on demonstrations. This year, Robert Masse (University of Washington) gave attendees insight into his next-generation, cloud-connected electrochemistry stations start-up in the Cloud Instruments: Democratizing Electrochemistry presentation. Juan Pablo Esquivel (Instituto Microelectrónica de Barcelona) showed guests a non-toxic portable power source that is biodegradable or even compostable in the powerPAD: Biodegradable Capillary-Based Flow Battery demonstration.

Student Poster Contest

The student poster session awards were handed out by Johna Leddy, ECS vice president; and symposium organizers Vimal Chaitanya and Kalpathy Sundaram. The winners were:

  • First Place, Electrochemical Science and Technology: Mahsa Lotfi Marchoubeh (University of Arkansas)
  • Second Place, Electrochemical Science and Technology: Leanne Mathurin (University of Arkansas)
  • First Place, Solid State Science and Technology: Isaac Taylor (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis)
  • Second Place, Solid State Science and Technology: Haitham Kalil (Cleveland State University)
Battery Division Postdoctoral Award

A new Battery Division postdoc award was approved at the 229th ECS Meeting. The award was established to encourage excellence among postdoctoral researchers in battery and fuel cell research with the primary purpose to recognize and support development of talent and future leaders therein. The award is generously sponsored by the MTI Corporation and the Jiang Family Foundation.

Student Mixer

Monday night’s student mixer was a sellout, attended by 201 students.


Special thinks goes to all the meeting sponsors and exhibitors, who showcased the tools and equipment so critical to scientific research.