Alumnus Dr. H.N. Cheng runs for ACS President-Elect

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Cheng photo cropped

Alumnus HN Cheng ’69, USDA Research Chemist, is one of two candidates for the 2020 American Chemical Society (ACS) President-Elect. 

Cheng graduated summa cum laude and with departmental highest honors from the UCLA in 1969. “I really appreciated the UCLA chemistry department because the faculty seemed genuinely interested in the students, and there was a camaraderie among the students,” Cheng said. “I was particularly interested in organic chemistry at the time, and UCLA had a fantastic organic program with Saul Winstein, Don Cram, Chris Foote and many others. I took Chemistry 4A and 4B from David Evans and Tom Jacobs, and 143A and 143B from Frank Anet and Ted Geissman. I also benefited greatly from all the other chemistry courses that I took.” In 1968-69, Cheng worked part-time in Rainer Berger’s lab, doing radiocarbon dating. In the summer of 1969, he was an NSF Undergraduate Research Participant, working for Jim Sudmeier.  

Cheng says that there were many other benefits of studying at UCLA. He recalls one evening, when he was returning home from working in the lab, and he passed by Pauley Pavilion. (He lived in Rieber Residence Hall, and a shortcut from the lab to the dorm was to walk through the athletic fields.) He said there seemed to be a basketball game going on inside, so he bought a ticket and went in. “UCLA was playing against Minnesota. Lew Alcindor stood out among the Bruins, and UCLA defeated them with a wide margin. It was a hilarious game,” Cheng said. Later he took a sociology class (with 18 students), and Curtis Rowe (one of the Bruin basketball players) was in his class. Although classmates went their separate ways after graduation, he was happy, years later, to work together with two of his UCLA classmates (Alan English and Richard Love) on ACS activities.  

“If elected, I will work hard together with ACS colleagues, students, and staff to enhance our profession and benefit our members” Cheng said. “In particular, I would emphasize four initiatives: strengthen the bond between ACS and the members; catalyze changes needed to grow ACS and to benefit our profession; provide strong support for innovation and career programs; and enhance our public profile and advocate for science. Peter Drucker, a founder of modern management, once said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ I hope to have the votes of everyone at UCLA to make it happen”.

The over 15,000 members of ACS will cast their votes for president-elect starting September 30 through October 25, 2019. Cheng’s opponent is Dr. Carol A. Duane, President of D&D Consultants of Mentor.

About Dr. H.N. Cheng

Dr. H.N. Cheng obtained his B.S. from UCLA in 1969 and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1974.  In his research and development work, he has been active in developing and promoting green polymer chemistry as a platform to produce eco-friendly and sustainable products. As part of this work, he has been involved with the use of biobased materials, biocatalysis, green processing, and green methodology. Cheng has also done extensive work on polymerization theory and polymer NMR. He is currently a Research Chemist at USDA Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans. Prior to 2009, Cheng was Senior Research Fellow at Hercules Incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware, where he held various R&D and managerial positions. He has authored or co-authored over 265 papers and 26 patent publications. Cheng has organized 35 symposia at national meetings since 2000 and edited 21 books. 

Cheng was selected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) (2009), a Fellow of the ACS Polymer Chemistry Division (2010), and a Fellow of the ACS Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2018). He was the recipient of ACS Volunteer Service Award (2016), Tillmans-Skolnick Award for Outstanding Service from the ACS Delaware Section (2006), Distinguished Service (2005) and Special Service (2015) Awards from ACS Polymer Division, and ACS Delaware Section Award for research excellence (1994). He was twice selected as Outstanding Researcher of the Year at USDA Southern Regional Research Center (2014 and 2019).

Cheng has been active in ACS for many years and has served in numerous ACS committees and task forces. In 2019 he serves as a member of the ACS Committee on Public Relations and Communication (CPRC), Chair of ACS Polymer Chemistry Division Workshop Committee, the Alternate Councilor and the Newsletter Editor for the ACS Louisiana Local Section.  

To learn more about Cheng and his candidacy, visit:

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,