CINF Member Profile: Elsa Alvaro

A new feature, Member Profile, was introduced by Donna Wrublewski, Incoming Chair 2015 of the CINF Membership Committee, in the previous fall 2014 issue of Chemical Information Bulletin (/node/648). Find out more about your CINF colleagues, what they find valuable about CINF, and even identify potential collaborators! If you’re interested in being interviewed for an upcoming CIB, please e-mail Donna at

ImageWho are you?

Elsa Alvaro

What do you do?

I am the librarian for chemistry, physics, and astronomy at Northwestern University. I connect people with the information resources that they need and also manage Northwestern University Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy collections. I have an exciting job that allows me to work on many different things and constantly develop new skills. Right now, I am preparing the sessions that I'm going to teach during the fall quarter, working on an exhibit that I am co-curating about the intersection of art and science, and analyzing different sources of quantitative and qualitative data to see what we can learn about our users and their future needs.

Why are you in the chemical information field?

It's the perfect fit for combining a passion for information and a chemistry background. After I got my PhD in organic chemistry (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain), I came to the United States to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research focused on studying the mechanism of the palladium-catalyzed thiation of aryl halides. I loved it, especially the feeling of solving a challenging puzzle and the excitement of doing something new, but I realized that I also had an interest in what was going on in the information and scholarly communication worlds. So towards the end of my postdoc, I started taking courses as a community credit student at UIUC's Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go back to grad school and get a library science degree at Indiana University Bloomington. I was very lucky to have inspiring mentors who were supportive and encouraging: John Hartwig, my postdoc advisor, and Roger Beckman, chemistry librarian at IU Bloomington.

What makes CINF valuable to you?

CINF is a great group to be involved with and a true career enhancer. In CINF you find a mixture of librarians, publishers, developers, cheminformaticians, etc. that it is extremely hard to find anywhere else. I get to learn a lot from other people’s experiences and perspectives, and there is always something new and interesting going on. Of course, I also love coming to ACS Meetings and attending CINF Symposia. I am now a member of the CINF Program Committee.