Volume 95 Issue 36 | pp. 42-43
Issue Date: September 11, 2017

For director-at-large: Bonnie (Helen A.) Lawlor

Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS News, candidates' statements, ACS director-at-large, Helen A. Lawlor
Credit: Bachrach Studios
A photo of Bonnie Lawlor.
Credit: Bachrach Studios

Philadelphia Section. (Retired) National Federation of Advanced Information Services, Philadelphia.

Academic record: Chestnut Hill College, B.S., 1966; St. Joseph’s University, M.S., 1976; University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, M.B.A., 1989.

Honors: National Federation of Advanced Information Services Honorary Fellow, 2014; ACS Fellow, 2013; Meritorius Service Award, ACS Division of Chemical Information, 2006; National Federation of Advanced Information Services Memorial Award, 1998; American Society for Information Science Achievement Award, 1996; Alpha Epsilon Sigma, 1966.

Professional positions (for past 10 years): National Federation of Advanced Information Services, executive director, 2002–14; Chescot Publishing, president/CEO, 1998–2002.

Service in ACS national offices: Committee on Committees, secretary, 2014–17, Task Force on Publications/Copyrights Inter-Committee Relationship, 1999; Council Policy Committee (voting), 2006–11, (nonvoting), 1997–99; Committee on Nominations & Elections, vice chair, 2003, secretary, 2001; Committee on Divisional Activities, chair, and Advisory Board for Industry Relations, 1997–99; Board Task Force on Technical Programming, 1998; Program Coordination Conference Committee, 1997–98; Committee on Copyrights, chair, 1993–95, committee associate, 1989; ACS Books Advisory Board, 1991–94.

Service in ACS offices:Division of Chemical Information: councilor, 1992–2018; archivist 2006–; Publications Committee, chair, 1990–95; chair, 1989; chair-elect, 1988; secretary-treasurer, 1984–87; editor of Chemical Information Bulletin, 1977–83; corresponding secretary, 1982.

Member: Member of ACS since 1972; Chemical Structure Association Trust, board of trustees; Philosopher’s Information Center, board of trustees. ACS division: Chemical Information.

Related activities: International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry, member of the editorial board of Chemistry International, 2015–, bureau member, chair of the Committee on Publications & Cheminformatics Data Standards, chair of the Web Vision Task Force, and member of the editorial advisory board of Pure & Applied Chemistry, 2014–; Chemical Structure Association Trust, chair of the Grants Committee and secretary, 2002–, board member, 1990–; National Federation of Advanced Information Services, chair of the Information Policy & Copyright Committee, 1991–2002, president, 1989; Information Industry Association, board member, 1997–98; American Society for Information Science, board member, 1996–98, chair of the Delaware Valley Chapter, 1994, secretary, 1992–94; International Journal of Electronic Publishing, editorial advisory board, 1993–96; Institute for Scientific Information, executive vice president of database publishing, 1989–95; American Association for the Advancement of Science, ACS representative, Section T, 1985–86; American Institute of Chemists, secretary of the Philadelphia Chapter, 1981–82; Chemical Notation Association, president, 1980, secretary, 1976–79.

Lawlor’s statement

With almost 156,000 members around the globe, the American Chemical Society is one of the world’s premier scientific organizations. To remain so, the society must continually respond to (1) the changing needs of its members, (2) the changing needs of the chemical enterprise, and (3) society’s evolving perceptions of chemists and chemistry.

ACS does an excellent job in the first two areas. Its aggressive strategic planning efforts have allowed it to identify the evolving internal and external trends to which it must respond in support of its members and the chemical enterprise. Indeed, the current strategic plan and the addition of ethics and safety to the society’s core values demonstrate the board’s efforts to maintain ACS’s relevance to the chemistry community. All of the goals outlined in the plan (see strategy.acs.org/includes/sp17.pdf) resonate with my own personal perceptions of what chemists and the chemical enterprise currently need and want—authoritative information, resources for success (for example, employment), community, and excellence in education. And I have articulated the importance of some of those goals in the past (see pubs.acs.org/cen/acs/8536elections.html#8).

Certainly, if elected to the board I would diligently work in support of the above goals. But my personal “crusade” would be to see how we can more effectively respond to the third point noted above. For I firmly believe that improving the general public’s approval of and confidence in chemistry will have a long-term positive impact on all that ACS does now and wants to accomplish in the future.

There was a time, long, long ago, when the general public embraced chemistry to the point where they attended lectures by famous chemists, performed chemistry experiments in their homes, and actually wrote books that served as early textbooks in chemistry (Chem. Int. 2016, DOI: 10.1515/ci-2016-3-407). That positive perception grew for more than 150 years and peaked after World War II, when chemistry sets were ubiquitous playthings, science TV shows such as “Mr. Wizard” were popular, and parents encouraged their children to seek careers in science. The public perception of science in general, and chemistry in particular, changed in 1962 with the publishing of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” a book that focused on the powerful pesticide DDT and its negative impact on wildlife and the environment. That book resulted in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and in a series of legislations such as the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 that ultimately resulted in the demise of realistic, chemistry-related playthings that served to engage children in science during their early, formative years.

I believe that we must be more aggressive in our attempts to rebuild a positive public opinion of chemistry, and I applaud the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recent efforts to gain a better understanding of the perception of chemistry in the U.K. as a first step in its determination of how the chemical sciences may evolve to improve the everyday lives of people in the next 10 to 20 years (see rsc.org/campaigning-outreach/campaigning/public-attitudes-chemistry). Public perception is a challenge, and there is no quick and easy solution, but the U.K. study shows promise. I would like to see ACS take similar steps in the fulfillment of its vision to improve people’s lives through chemistry.

All four candidates for director-at-large are experienced, have served ACS well for many years, are familiar with the inner workings of the organization, and are more than willing to work tirelessly and relentlessly for the well-being of the society, its members, and the chemical profession. So why should you consider me?

I believe that I would bring several unique experiences and perspectives to the ACS Board of Directors. My career in the scientific publishing arena has provided me with an understanding of the global disruptive trends in scholarly communication that offer both opportunities and challenges to traditional information resources such as CAS and ACS journals—the society’s major source of revenue. In addition, having served as the executive director of a nonprofit member organization, I dealt on a daily basis with the challenges that ACS faces—growing and retaining membership, building and rewarding an active pool of volunteers, and balancing member benefits with fiscal responsibility. From a financial perspective, my work experience has provided significant budget responsibility, and finally, my nontraditional career brings a nonacademic, nonlaboratory perspective to the board.

My years of service to the society have been rewarding and enjoyable, and I would be both honored and humbled if elected to serve on the board. I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Candidates will not be notified of comments left on this webpage. To contact this candidate directly, e-mail chescot@aol.com.

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