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News Release: Scientist Named an American Chemical Society Fellow

September 1, 2010

Dr. Helena Chum, research fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), was recently named a 2010 Fellow by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Dr. Chum’s work includes the development of technologies for the conversion of biomass and organic wastes into liquid and gaseous fuels, chemicals and electricity and their integration into biomass systems based on agriculture or forestry or energy crops.  In particular, she now is working on the sustainability of integrated biomass refineries considering factors such as economic and technological development, social, environmental and ecological factors in the United States and abroad.  She has lectured and participated in seminars worldwide, has more than 100 publications and is a co–inventor on 20 patents.

Dr. Chum also is an active participant in DOE/NREL’s international activities on sustainability and in renewable energy, biofuels, and hydrogen involving Brazil and China. Dr. Chum is a member of the governance Chamber of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, a lead author of the upcoming biomass chapter of the International Panel on Climate Change Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation report, and a member of the joint Academies of Science and Engineering of the United States and China that produced the joint report, Electricity from Renewables, now in peer review.

“The ACS 2010 Fellow award is a very important milestone and much appreciated acknowledgment of my career as a scientist representing NREL and its outstanding chemical, biochemical and engineering research in biomass and related areas.  I believe it represents recognition of my technical contributions overall including scientific program development and the building up of an ACS division that achieved outstanding performance in 1993, my service as division councilor and on task forces that impact areas such as environment, energy, and science. Thank you very much to NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy for the opportunities, and to the ACS CELL Division and the ACS for affording me this honor.”

The ACS 2010 Fellow honor was bestowed on 192 distinguished scientists who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and made important contributions to ACS. This year’s group represents academe, industry and government. Additional information about the program is available at

Dr. Chum started with NREL in 1979 when it was known as the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI). Before joining SERI/NREL, she was assistant professor of physical chemistry at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and was a Visiting Scientist at the Heyrovsky Institute of Polarography, Prague, Czechoslovakia and at Colorado State University’s Chemistry Department. She married Dr. Joseph H. Christie, also an ACS chemist, in 1976 and moved to the United States. She holds B.S. degrees from the University of São Paulo in Chemistry (with Industrial Chemistry attributions) and Chemical Education. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of São Paulo in Physical Chemistry.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

NREL is DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC. 


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—Heather Lammers