The American Chemical Society has announced a new portfolio of initiatives aimed at promoting a sustainable future, a skilled technical workforce, and enhanced scientific data collections.
Responding to historically strong financial performance, ACS will invest $50 million over 5 years in initiatives designed to further the society’s mission “to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.”
The four new initiatives are the ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future Initiative, the Strategic Initiative on Fostering a Skilled Technical Workforce, the Accelerating Digital Research Data Products Initiative, and the CAS Accelerating Life Science Growth Initiative. Taken together, ACS Chief Operations Officer LaTrease Garrison says, the initiatives will expand ACS’s global impact “so that we can demonstrate the power of chemistry, the effectiveness of chemistry, and how chemistry is contributing to the overarching global economy.”
ACS’s Scientific Advancement division will lead the ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future Initiative. The multifaceted initiative will include a campaign promoting sustainability, increased advocacy for sustainability research funding, and expanded efforts to modernize the chemistry curriculum for 2- and 4-year colleges to include a focus on sustainability. The initiative will also include a prize for international collaborations focused on sustainable chemistry research.
“The impact that we’ll have is creating a future chemistry enterprise workforce that’s trained in sustainability concepts,” Garrison says. Such a workforce “will help to revolutionize chemistry as a discipline and to increase the amount and pace of chemistry-related sustainability innovation research.”
The division will begin by creating a new staff unit that will organize workshops, symposia, and webinars and develop resources and collaborations.
ACS Education will lead the Strategic Initiative on Fostering a Skilled Technical Workforce. The initiative aims to increase awareness and pursuit of career opportunities in the technical workforce by forging partnerships with companies and 2-year colleges and helping to connect students and professionals with 2-year college degrees.
The initiative’s focus will be a campaign to convey information about the range of career options in chemistry, including those attainable with a 2-year degree. “Individuals with a 2-year college degree are just as employable as those who have a higher-level degree,” yet stigma can discourage students from pursuing them, Garrison says.
“There is an opportunity for all ACS members to help us to change the message, which will in turn help us to diversify as well as to increase the number of individuals within that pipeline for the future workforce of chemistry,” Garrison says. “It’s incumbent upon us as an organization to make sure that we have a well-trained, diverse talent pool available for the future.”
ACS Publications will lead the Accelerating Digital Research Data Products Initiative. This initiative will fund new infrastructure that will make it easier to reuse primary research data associated with journal articles and improve text and data mining. “This initiative will deliver the foundational work for the society to enhance the value of and accessibility to research data in an open-science context,” says James Milne, president of ACS Publications.
Milne says the new investment will allow the division to advance this endeavor quickly and comprehensively. The division’s first steps will be to evaluate the needs of research communities and to determine how ACS Publications can address those needs sustainably and effectively.
CAS will lead the CAS Accelerating Life Science Growth Initiative. The division will use the investment to expand its content, products, and services coverage of the life sciences. “It’s an exciting opportunity for CAS because it affords us the opportunity to expand our operation by engaging more scientists around the world,” says Manuel Guzman, president of CAS.
The division aims to aggregate the world’s largest body of life sciences information, which it will then curate and make available as part of its existing offerings and services business. It will start out by expanding into areas such as antibodies, proteomics, metabolomics, and agriculture, although “there’s really no limit to the areas that we will ultimately cover,” Guzman says. The expansion will eventually lead to new product models—for example, a potential offering similar to CAS SciFinder targeted toward medicinal chemists.
The division has already begun the multiyear effort of identifying and collecting scientific content. In the same way that CAS and SciFinder “revolutionized scientific research and discovery,” Guzman says, “we think we will be able to create the same opportunity for the life sciences.”
The ACS Board of Directors intends that ACS’s investment in the four new initiatives “will result in dramatic change that has an important and lasting impact for chemistry and the chemistry enterprise,” Paul W. Jagodzinski, chair of the ACS Board of Directors, said in a statement. “Through these strategic initiatives and all of our activities, we continue to work toward achieving the ACS vision of improving all people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.”