Meet the YCC: Julian Bobb

Meet Dr. Julian Bobb, a research scientist currently based in Richmond, VA, and an active member of the Virginia ACS Local Section. Julian is an Associate of the national Younger Chemists Committee (YCC), of which he serves on the Globel Engagement (GE) subcommittee. Julian’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.

Julian Bobb (he/him/his)

YCC Associate

YCC subcommittee: Global Engagement (GE)

Other ACS Involvement:

Secretary, Virginia ACS Local Section; Marketing & Communications Team Chair, Virginia YCC

Education

B.S., Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University

Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University

Connect:

LinkedIn

When and why did you join the YCC?

I joined the national YCC in 2023 as one of the new Associates. I also previously served one year as Secretary and five years as Chair of the Virginia ACS Local Section Younger Chemists Committee (VA YCC) and am currently the Subcommittee Chair of the VA YCC Marketing & Communications Team. I enjoy serving in my local section YCC because I am able to develop leadership and organizational, oral and written communication, and team management skills, and—more importantly—connect with local chemists. Some of the programs I have helped organized for our local younger chemists in Virginia includes brewery and lab tours, trivia nights, career development workshops, networking socials, and the ACS Virginia Mentorship Program.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging time for younger chemists as in-people gatherings became sparse. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, I helped form the Eastern US Younger Chemists Committee Partnership, which initially included the Virginia, Eastern New York, and Philadelphia YCCs. Over the course of the pandemic, additional local section YCCs from across the eastern US region, and even a few international groups, joined the coalition. The partnership was formed to help circumvent some of the challenges faced by younger chemists during the pandemic by providing opportunities to connect virtually along with ease of accessibility to shared resources such as recordings of virtual webinars and professional development workshops. Furthermore, the Eastern US YCC Partnership provided the opportunity for me to collaborate with younger chemists not only nationally but also internationally to organize various virtual programs such as the “Day in the Life” series, career and networking workshops, self-care and building confidence workshops, and a research symposium and career expo. These programs were attended by both national and international younger chemists.

I joined the national YCC because I wanted to help organize programs and provide resources that will empower and support younger chemists from across the world while bringing awareness to the resources that the ACS has available for their career enhancement. I also joined because I wanted to leverage the experiences and connections made in the VA YCC and Eastern US Younger Chemists Committee Partnership to reach a broader audience.

Picture of me pretending to prepare a sample in my lab prior to attending my graduation for my Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University. During my Ph.D., I studied reaction mechanisms and kinetics for the photocatalytic reduction of gold ions in aqueous solvents using both nanosecond and femtosecond laser pulses. Credit: Dr. Hiran D. Kiriarachchi

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on implementing virtual programming for younger chemists. I recently helped organize a webinar titled “A Day in the Life of an Astrochemist” (now posted on the YCC’s YouTube channel) with speaker and fellow YCC Associate Dr. Olivia Harper Wilkins. Dr. Wilkins shared an overview of what astrochemistry is, her career path to astrochemistry, and about what it is like to do research at NASA. I am looking forward to organizing future “A Day in the Life” webinars featuring speakers from various backgrounds and career paths as well as other career and networking virtual events. These activities align well with the national YCC’s strategic plan to provide virtual connections and programs to support the diverse career paths of younger chemists.

What is your favorite part about being on the YCC?

I enjoy attending the virtual and in-person committee meetings, which are generally centered on how we can best serve the needs of younger chemists. Being able to contribute ideas and engage in discussions with fellow members and associates and seeing the fruits of our efforts in a tangible way in terms of how those efforts have impacted younger chemists is rewarding. I love being a part of the YCC community, and I admire the unique experiences everyone brings along with the respect we have for each other.

The best part of attending ACS meetings is contributing ideas and engaging in discussions, but another great thing is sightseeing! This is a picture of me visiting the Golden Gate Bridge while attending the ACS Fall 2023 Meeting in San Francisco, California.

What is something you want every younger chemist to know?

As an undergraduate chemistry student, I interned at Afton Chemical Corporation in Richmond, VA. As an intern, I was responsible for testing the rheological and frictional properties of lubricants such as engine oil, gear oil, and transmission fluids. One of the best pieces of career advice I’ve received was given by my then-supervisor. He told me that “it is not about what you know or who you know, but who knows you.” His advice emphasizes the importance for younger chemists to build relationships and rapport with those around us such as our friends and family and with colleagues in the scientific community.

Networking is a great tool that can be leveraged to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange information, and foster sustainable relationships for career and professional development. Some of the reasons why younger chemists should network includes being able to learn about internships, job opportunities, graduate school, award programs, and volunteering opportunities–even within the ACS community. Networking can help younger chemists build their professional brand, find mentors, and learn about opportunities to share information. The ACS national, regional, and local meetings are great places to network. Networking can also happen in places such as work, school, community activities, social gatherings, and virtual events.

Picture of me in July 2022 at the 65th General Hospital Memorial Monument on the Duke University Hospital’s campus in Durham, North Carolina while helping a friend with move-in. The memorial features four life-size figures –a physician, a nurse, an injured solider, and a corpsman (not shown). The bronze memorial sculpture was created to honor the doctors, nurses, and enlisted men who served in the Duke-affiliated 65th General Hospital during World War II. This memorial reminded me about the importance of honoring and appreciating healthcare workers and the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces for their daily selfless acts. Credit: Dr. Jayani Christopher

What are your favorite things to do for fun? 

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I have a 3-year-old nephew who keeps me busy when I go home to my parents’ house in Richmond, VA to play with him. I started playing golf over a year ago, and it’s both fun and frustrating. One of my other favorite things to do is to serve in my local church.

Article by Olivia Wilkins, Ph.D.

Olivia Harper Wilkins is an astrochemist and Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Dickinson College. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from Caltech and a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics from Dickinson.