Meet the YCC: Annabelle Lolinco

Meet Annabelle Lolinco, a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry at Iowa State University and recipe enthusiast. Annabelle is an Associate of the national Younger Chemists Committee (YCC), of which she serves on the Governance, Interface, and Outreach (GIO) subcommittee. Annabelle’s profile is part of “Meet the YCC”, a series of blog posts highlighting YCC members and associates and what they do both in and outside of ACS.

Annabelle Lolinco (she/her/hers)

YCC Associate

YCC subcommittee: Governance, Interface, and Outreach (GIO)

Other ACS Involvement:

YCC Liaison – Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholars Advisory Board; Liaison – ACS Bridge Program; Secretary and Communications Committee Chair, Division of Professional Relations (PROF)

Education

B.S., Biochemistry, California State University, Fresno

B.A., Communication, California State University, Fresno

M.S., Physical Chemistry, Iowa State University

Connect:

Twitter/X, Instagram, LinkedIn

When and why did you join the YCC?

Long story short, the people I’ve learned from, worked with, and met through ACS was a big part of why I joined YCC! They exemplified tenets of leadership I want to emulate and fostered a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment that made it easy and enjoyable to become involved in the Society. I also wanted to make an impact on the experiences my peers and future chemists have, whether they be educational opportunities or professional development.

I was involved in ACS early on as an undergraduate student member, particularly with my Local Section and Student Chapter. (Shout out to the San Joaquin Valley Local Section and Fresno State Chemistry Club!) By the time I was starting graduate school in 2017, I knew I wanted to keep in touch with the broader chemistry community through ACS. An opening came up to be on an advisory board that represents the needs and interests of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. I applied and was selected as the liaison to YCC. It’s how I got to meet amazing ACS volunteers like current YCC Chair Katie Johnson and other YCC alums, including Matt Grandbois and Natalie LaFranzo. I learned all about the mission of empowering younger chemistry leaders so that I could better represent our interests to the advisory board. Fast forward a few years, and I attended the ACS Leadership Institute held every January in Atlanta through the Younger Leaders track. That’s when I filled out the ACS committee preference form, which led to me being appointed as an Associate for the YCC beginning in 2023.

Taking a selfie with another attendee at the 2023 Midwest-Great Lakes ACS regional meeting as a part of the Division of Professional Relations’ ambassador program to talk about what it is like being involved in an ACS technical division. I joined the Division of Professional Relations (PROF) because it is a community of folks who are excited and dedicated about professional skills in any career/job. I knew I was interested in exploring less common career paths, so it has great to be a part of a community that welcomes that interest. I love the diversity of experiences I hear and learn from other volunteers and leaders in the division.

What projects are you currently working on?

The YCC had a strategic planning retreat to update some of the committee’s goals through 2027. To contribute to the strategic plan, I’m co-leading efforts to bring YCC resources to a more global audience, particularly to help foster efforts to create communities such as Local Section Younger Chemists Committees in different parts of the world.

I’m also part of the Governance, Interface and Outreach (GIO) subcommittee. One of the GIO projects I’m getting more involved in is the Catalyze the Vote initiative. We aim to increase ACS voter participation among younger chemists for the annual Society election. Catalyze the Vote is primarily centered on getting folks to interact with and learn more about the ACS President-Elect candidates before submitting their ballots. We also hope to increase attendance at our annual town hall (which is run through ACS Webinars) and have started talking about ways we can partner with other communities in ACS, such as local sections and other committees, so more people are aware of the opportunity to hear from candidates directly. Stay tuned!

Exploring St. Louis after presentations were over for the 2023 Midwest-Great Lakes ACS Regional Meeting. The regional meeting was a great way to connect with folks who are located relatively close, and the symposium sessions don’t usually overlap overwhelmingly like they do at a national meeting – so I could attend all the talks and posters I wanted to see! Credit: Emily King

What is your favorite part about being on YCC?

Hands down, the people and the committee’s collective enthusiasm and energy! I get to see leaders grow and flourish, and it’s amazing (and quite humbling) that we get to occupy the same spaces together. I always take something new away from our YCC meetings, like a totally different way of viewing a situation or information. At the last YCC meeting, Safia Jilani, my YCC mentor, shared what she knew about the different dimensions of wellness and we had a touching discussion about personal and community well-being, barriers to achieving good well-being, and what felt great when we felt that a dimension was met. A lot of volunteers feel pressed about how our time is spent split among different responsibilities, and it was gratifying knowing that others felt the same. It was also soothing to hear how everyone approached their wellness. Some people change their physical environment or do physical activity, others find wellness when they socialize, and others are enriched by how they’re doing in their job. There’s no one way to make sure you’re taking care of you, and it was a great learning moment!

How has your career taken a unique or unexpected path?

Unexpected is a word for it! When I first started college, I hadn’t the faintest idea of a concrete plan, except that I was going to eventually get a job. I figured I would study the two things that I thought were most interesting (chemistry and communication) and that I’d find something fulfilling and engaging along the way. I found ways to integrate and explore these interests through so many different avenues.

I found a mentor in communication so I could explore how scientists talk about science as undergraduate students. I discovered there’s a whole slew of folks who sit at the intersection of the arts and humanities and sciences called Cultivating Ensembles, combining things like improv and storytelling with science.

I had the opportunity to attend an intensive workshop understanding how I can use my chemical expertise and communication skills for science policy and advocacy. (If you get a chance, the CASE workshop is eye-opening!) Fast forward a few years, and I got involved in the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) where I learned about and led inclusive and accessible initiatives and programs. From the learning side, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Science Diplomacy committees created webinars on topics such as interpreting science from a global and translational perspective, investing in science education, and providing broadband access in rural communities. I helped establish a fund for lifting underrepresented voices in the science policy, advocacy, communication, and diplomacy spaces. I got to see the monies empower young scientists-to-be and pay folks for the labor they do in bringing attention to policies that encourage and establish accessibility, inclusivity, and belonging.

I even get to combine my interest in chemistry and communication through my research in chemical education. I study the ways students communicate and connect chemistry to context, particularly through sustainability, in the ways they write. I also see how students seek help using curated chatbots as a communication tool (no, not quite like ChatGPT). In summary, I dove in headfirst exploring how I could use my dual knowledge set of chemistry and communication and found science communication and policy as fulfilling opportunities. I’ve had so many unique and wonderful learning and leading experiences, all while I’m still in school! So, I’m excited to see what comes next.

On that note, wish me lots of luck and motivation – I’m going to need it over the next few months as I finish my Ph.D. dissertation!

Going on a scavenger hunt around Iowa State’s campus as a part of the Ames National Lab’s annual Active for Life fitness challenge. Every week during the summer, a scavenger hunt clue leads to an art piece on Iowa State’s campus, so we get to move and learn a little bit more about the campus. Pictured from left to right: Alex Leffel, Andres Garcia-Alejo, Annabelle Lolinco, Ryan Richard, Zach Crandall.Credit: Theresa Windus

What are your favorite things to do for fun? 

I like trying new recipes and foods. I have a lot of traditions I’ve built over the years around food during holidays like the Lunar New Year or the mid-autumn celebrations. Given the season, every Thanksgiving I try to find one thing I haven’t previously tried and attempt to make it. In the past, this tradition has yielded baked potato croquettes, chicken karaage, and ciabatta rolls. This year I took a suggestion from a friend of mine. We both enjoy B. Dylan Hollis’s recipe videos (on Tik Tok), and I tried out the Impossible Pie recipe from his cookbook Baking Yesteryear.

I also love going to the public library. I was that kid growing up who checked out the maximum number of books at a time and participated in reading programs and putting together community events celebrating books (or books turned into movies). I love cozying up in a pillow fort on my bed or on the couch, with a soft blanket on my lap. Settling in for a night of reading (read: escape to a fun fantasy or adventure) is great, even if I don’t do it as much as I used to.

Biographical photo by Emily King.

Article by Olivia Wilkins, Ph.D.

Olivia Wilkins is an astrochemist and NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Goddard. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech and a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from Dickinson College.