Contact Us!


For all questions regarding the conference, please email - your email will be directed to the correct person for a prompt reply.

Who We Are:

We are an enthusiastic group of chemistry educators from all over the Chicagoland area!  How did we come to find each other and decide to organize this ChemEd Conference?  We all belong to our local chemistry teacher networking group called ChemWest!  ChemWest was started in 1985 by Lee Marek (Naperville North HS), Bob Lewis (Downers Grove North HS), and DeWayne Lieneman (Glenbard South HS).  ChemWest meets monthly, during the school year, at various schools around the Chicagoland area.  At ChemWest meetings teachers bring lessons, demos, resources to share with other teachers in attendance.

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I have taught college chemistry for 27 years in North Carolina and Illinois.  My specialty is Inorganic Chemistry but I have taught Organic Chemistry as well as a team taught English course.  My non-majors courses are “The Science of Energy” and “Chemistry Demonstrations” – both geared toward K-8 teachers.  I first got involved in doing demos upon arriving at NCC in 2001, meeting Lee Marek and joining ChemWest.  I first started going to ChemEd in 2015 when Sue Bober prodded me into thinking that NCC should do this.  Thanks Sue!

Conference Co-Chair

Paul Brandt •

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I currently teach chemistry and forensics at Schaumburg High School.  I have been attending and presenting with our local ChemWest group since 1995.  I attended my first ChemEd conference in 1991 and have only missed one ChemEd since!  I have also led multiple Fermilab chemistry teacher workshops where I have shared with many teachers all of the gems that I've picked up in my years teaching.

Conference Co-Chair


I teach chemistry at Libertyville High School.  I am currently the AACT President and the programming chair for the teachers programming at national ACS meetings.  I am a board of director for the Chicago section of ACS and the chair of the Polymer Ambassadors.  Recently I won the ACS Great Lakes Teacher of the Year and I am a Golden Apple fellow.  I have presented at many conferences and do workshops for teachers in various states and ASM during the summer.  I enjoy attending ChemWest to share all of the things I've learned in my years teaching.

Program Co-Chair, Marketing/PR Co-Chair

Sherri Rukes

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I teach chemistry and physics at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois.  I am the new co-president of ChemWest, our local chemistry teacher networking group, a group that I first attended while in my senior year at Illinois State University.  I have been teaching since 2008, and attended my first ChemEd conference in 2013 at the University of Waterloo.  I enjoy the friendships I have made through ChemWest, ChemEd, and BCCE - I can't wait for July 21st 2019!  You will often see me sporting my SvahaUSA science dresses paired with my Esty earrings!

Program Co-Chair, Marketing/PR Co-Chair/Hospitality Co-Chair/Registration/Webmaster

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I teach chemistry, physical science, and physics at Johnsburg High School in Johnsburg, Illinois.  I completed my education degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Lee Marek was one of my methods professors.  I learned about ChemWest through Lee and have been an active member since my first year teaching.  In my spare time, I love kayaking, welding, making furniture, and spending time in nature.

Safety & Materials Chair, Marketing/PR Co-Chair

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I am a chemistry teacher at Schaumburg High School in Schaumburg, Illinois. I have been teaching at Schaumburg H.S. for eight years and have been a co-president of the local teacher networking group, ChemWest, since 2016.  I am excited to welcome the ChemEd Community (new and returning) to Naperville in July 2019 for a week of great ideas and new friends.

Safety & Materials Co-Chair

Mike Palazzolo


I am a chemistry teacher and Science Department Chair at William Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois. In addition, I am on the Board of Directors for the Fermilab Friends for Science Education.  I am the former president of ChemWest and have led Fermilab chemistry teacher summer workshops.  I enjoy writing chemistry parodies and presenting them to my students.  KawKaw #goRedbirds.

Finance Chair

Karl Craddock


I teach Chemistry at Wolcott School in Chicago. I have a Masters Degree in Differentiated Instruction and am passionate about educating students who learn differently. I am an NSTA Maitland P. Simmons Award winner and spent several summers as a Chemistry Honors Instructor at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development. I’m excited to attend my very FIRST ChemEd this summer!

Finance Co-Chair

Marisa German


I am the Director of Science at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois. I have taught Chemistry for 27 years at Niles West High School, and served on numerous education committees such as the ACS ChemClub and ACS ChemMatters. It has been a pleasure to work with the professionals on the ChemEd committee. They are dedicated chemistry educators who volunteer their time unselfishly and give back to the science education community. Together we can grow intellectually and in our science practice!

Volunteer Chair


I have been teaching chemistry since 1991 at JS Morton East High School in Cicero, Illinois in the same lab that my dad took chemistry in.  My high school chemistry teacher, Mr Vesech, also taught my mom and then he retired the year I started teaching;  so maybe I was meant to be a chemistry teacher at my own high school!  Living in the Chicagoland area I have been lucky to have many talented role models including: Weird Science (Lee Marek & Bob Lewis) and Phil with his field trip classes.

Social Chair

Lisa Castello


I am a chemistry teacher at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.  I met Jill Serling last year during my first year teaching and she (easily) convinced me to start attending and presenting at ChemWest meetings.  The rest is history!  I love creating curriculum for my chemistry students, trying out new activities/labs, and searching the web for all of the great things that YOU do in your classroom!  In my spare time, I love to read, spend time with my roommates, and hang out with my bun, Reggie.

Hospitality Co-Chair

Laura Dubnicka

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Lee Marek


Jaci Gentile


Pat Schlinder

Irene Cesa

ChemEd 2019 Consultants

ChemEd 2019 Acknowledgements:

Sarah Davis:  Mole Stroll t-shirt design, Kids Camp t-shirt design, Volunteer t-shirt design, Mole Stroll

Bobby Cowhey: Program & Logistics