Contribution to the Science/Profession: For innovative research contributions concerning processes and mechanisms within agricultural systems and the development of practical mitigation strategies that support agricultural sustainability and reduce risks to ecosystem and human health.
Contribution to the ACS Community: For sustained leadership in AGRO programming, communications, and publications that inspires high standards for presentations, outreach to the international science community, and confidence in the future of agricultural chemistry research.
Cathleen J. Hapeman earned her BS (chemistry 1981) and PhD (mechanistic organic chemistry 1986) at the University of Maryland, College Park, and immediately moved two miles up US Route 1 to USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Maryland. Twelve years later, she became Research Leader of the Environmental Quality Laboratory and served for eight years where she learned very quickly that effectively communicating scientific achievements is as important as the discoveries themselves.
Cathleen’s research has focused on both basic and applied aspects of pollutant fate, blending chemical proficiency and environmental process expertise with decades of experience in agricultural practices and acquired regulatory knowledge. She investigates processes that affect air and water quality as a function of land use and agricultural practice; assesses risk potential of agricultural pollutants to nearby ecosystems at landscape and regional scales; and examines the effectiveness of mitigation strategies and conservation practices to minimize the agricultural footprint on natural resources.
Her most notable achievements include discovery of new environmental matrix, thermodynamic, and structural influences on pollutant fate, such as the endosulfan isomerization and its effect on environmental distribution. She has determined the potential pollutant exposures that can affect human and ecosystem health, for which she and her colleagues received the Secretary of Agriculture’s Team Honor Award. Cathleen and her colleagues found that MESA, a degradation of metolachlor, can be used as a conservative tracer for agricultural nitrate. Recently, the team launched a national study to age-date water systems using the change in MESA chirality associated with the change in metolachlor formulation from racemic to s-metolachlor.
Cathleen has been involved with the AGRO Division since she started her research career at ARS. She was the first recipient of the AGRO Young Scientist Research Award, making her keenly aware of how this support can boost a scientist in their early career. For this reason, she later served as Coordinator of the New Investigator Award for several years and has been active with the Student Travel Award coordinators in promoting the program. She has also organized many AGRO symposia and mentored
others in organizing symposia and in the development of the AGRO Early Career Scientist Symposium. In 2014, she served as the Scientific Program Chair for the 13th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry (1000+ papers presented).
Although Cathleen has contributed in many ways to AGRO’s success, perhaps her most substantial achievement to date has been as the editor of the PICOGRAM which has become a premier ACS Division publication. She reorganized the PICOGRAM format to meet membership needs and to provide a more informative document for the National ACS Meetings. Since 2006, she has worked closely with all the Division Program Chairs in preparing for upcoming meetings, including streamlining the proposals for Symposia (Call for Papers), editing abstracts, and modifying each PICOGRAM edition for each meeting.
Finally, Cathleen is a strong advocate of effective scientific communication and serves as director of scientific communications training for ARS. As a member of the AGRO Communications Committee, she has been involved in exploring non-traditional venues for providing members with useful information. For several years, she has served as an AGRO liaison to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and she has recently been appointed as an associate editor. Cathleen looks forward to serving AGRO and helping to communicate science effectively for many more years.