Billo, E. Joseph

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Billo, E. Joseph

PERSONAL:

Male.

CAREER:

Boston College, Boston, MA, former associate professor of chemistry; currently presents computer program courses to scientists throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

WRITINGS:

Excel for Chemists: A Comprehensive Guide, Wiley-VCH (New York, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, 2001.

Excel for Scientists and Engineers: Numerical Methods, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

E. Joseph Billo, a former associate professor of chemistry at Boston College, has developed two short courses: "Advanced Excel for Scientists and Engineers" and "Excel Visual Basic Macros for Scientists and Engineers." He has presented these courses to thousands of scientists throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe via organizations such as the American Chemical Society, the National Cancer Institute, Procter & Gamble, Shell, and Texaco. He is also the author of books on how to use Excel that focus on a specific target audience of scientists in various disciplines. Excel, also known as Microsoft Office Excel, is a spreadsheet computer program that includes features such as graphing tools, pivot tables, and a programming language called Visual Basic Applications (VBA). It was the first spreadsheet that enabled users to define the appearance of their spreadsheets via fonts and character attributes, along with extensive graphing capabilities.

In his first book, Excel for Chemists: A Comprehensive Guide, published in 1997 with a second edition published in 2001, the author provides a comprehensive tutorial on using spreadsheets specifically for the chemist wishing to present scientific data. "Spreadsheets perform … repetitive calculations for you, automatically ensuring that any result which is dependent on a value which has changed will be recalculated, and the results of any change will be reflected throughout the whole sheet," explained Peter Biggs in a review of the first edition for Chemistry and Industry. "It doesn't take a leap of faith to see how this tool can be applied to repetitive scientific calculations."

The author pays special attention to teaching chemists how to make full use of the program's scientific calculating abilities to process, analyze, and present scientific data. In the second edition, the author updates information on changes to Excel and includes many new examples of how it can be used. The book includes illustrations and examples of chemical applications and step-by-step instructions for programming Excel to automate repetitive data-processing tasks. The author also includes tips on working with the program faster and more simply. A CD-ROM is included, containing spreadsheet templates, macros, and other tools. "With the lamentable decline in the ability of many researchers to program anything more complicated than their video recorder, it is becoming more important that they become familiar with tools such as Excel," wrote Biggs in Chemistry and Industry.

Excel for Scientists and Engineering: Numerical Methods contains many of the same features as the author's previous book and includes a CD-ROM, too. This guide focuses on a wider range of scientists and helps readers' improve their abilities to execute calculations needed to solve chemical, biochemical, physical, engineering, biological, and medicinal problems. "No background in programming is needed," noted a reviewer in SciTech Book News.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chemistry and Industry, September 7, 1998, Peter Biggs, review of Excel for Chemists: A Comprehensive Guide, p. 694.

Choice, March, 1998, review of Excel for Chemists, p. 1217; October, 2007, D.A. Johnson, review of Excel for Scientists and Engineers: Numerical Methods, p. 314.

Journal of Chemical Education, June, 2000, Jeffery Greathouse, review of Excel for Chemists, p. 705.

SciTech Book News, September, 1997, review of Excel for Chemists, p. 34; September, 2001, review of Excel for Chemists, 2nd edition, p. 58; June, 2007, review of Excel for Scientists and Engineers.