DR. LAURA L. MCCONNELL is a Research Chemist at the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland. Dr. McConnell specializes in the investigation of processes controlling the movement of pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants from agricultural operations into the atmosphere or surface waters with the ultimate goal of designing more sustainable farming systems that will minimize negative impacts on surrounding ecosystems. She is Lead Scientist on an ARS project entitled, “Discerning the Fate of Atmospheric Agricultural Emissions in the Chesapeake Bay Region”, and she has authored more than 75 peer-reviewed publications.
She was honored by ACS early in her career when she received the Iota Sigma Pi, Anna Louise Hoffman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Research (sponsored by the Women Chemists Committee) and the American Chemical Society, Division of Environmental Chemistry, Graduate Student Paper Award. After coming to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, she received the ARS Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Scientist of the Year for her work on the Chesapeake Bay, and she later received the Rhône Poulenc Environmental Poster Prize presented at the 9th International Congress on Pesticide Chemistry in London, UK.
Dr. McConnell has provided leadership on a large number of initiatives within the AGRO division. As an active member she was elected to the Executive Committee in 2000 and became editor of the PICOGRAM. In 2005, she assumed a more active leadership role when she was elected Vice Chair and subsequently served as Program Chair in 2006 and Chair in 2007. She has co-organized a number of symposia on topics such as “Agrochemical and Nutrient Impacts on Estuaries”; “Managing gas and particle emissions from Agriculture”; and “Modern Pesticides in Urban Environments Risk Assessment and Management”, the first symposium sponsored by an ACS division at a Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Annual meeting.
In 2008, she led the development of a strategic planning workshop for the division. The resulting strategic plan has governed the activities of the division and has led to an improvement in member services and has expanded the quality and impact of AGRO programming. She has continued as Strategic Planning Chair, organizing a new workshop and the development of a newly updated strategic plan in 2011.
She has led three different ACS innovative grant proposals for the division. The first proposal supported inter-society cooperation at the 3rd International Workshop on Crop Protection Chemistry in Latin America in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Another led to the redevelopment of the AGRO logo and website and the initiation of an e-newsletter. The third facilitated development of publicity materials and a new website for the 13th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry to be hosted by AGRO at the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco in 2014.
Most recently Dr. McConnell served as a Special Symposium Organizer at the 43rd IUPAC World Chemistry Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico entitled, “Advanced physico-chemical techniques to solve environmental science challenges.” This symposium was selected as one of three ACS-sponsored symposia as part of International Year of Chemistry with co-sponsorship from two ACS divisions and SETAC.