William F. Carroll Jr. has been awarded the 2023 Charles Lathrop Parsons Award by the American Chemical Society’s Board of Directors. Established in 1952 to honor the executive secretary who helped create today’s ACS, this award recognizes outstanding public service by members of the society.
Carroll is cited for his career-long public service in the use of science in the development and implementation of state, national, and international environmental policies. This award also recognizes his extensive volunteer work within ACS. “It was a huge honor to be accepted for a Parsons Award, I couldn’t be happier,” says Carroll.
Before retiring, Carroll worked in industry, mostly at OxyChem, for 37 years. He is currently a consultant for Carroll Applied Science. “There is a central theme running through Bill Carroll’s career: the use of science to develop and advocate for sound policy in the service of the public,” Bruce Bursten, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a past ACS president, wrote in his nomination letter.
Carroll made his first foray into science policy in the early 1980s, after overseeing research on combustion products from synthetic polymers. Since the mid-1990s, his policy focus has been largely on dioxins’ environmental impact. The manufacture of chloralkali products, which OxyChem produces, can emit significant amounts of dioxins. Due to his dioxin expertise and policy experience, Carroll was invited to take part in the discussions leading to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. 20 years after the treaty’s ratification, he remains an important technical resource for its implementation.
Since retirement, Carroll has also been working on an United Nations Industrial Development Organization project to eliminate China’s use of mercury catalysts during vinyl chloride production. This process, that is only used in China, is the second largest source of mercury pollution worldwide.
Throughout his career, Carroll has served on or chaired numerous other science advisory committees for industry, government, and standards organizations. He is keen to encourage more scientists to follow in his footsteps and use their scientific expertise to inform policy decisions. “Policy is a vehicle for implementing solutions and who better to be involved than the people who understand the science,” Carroll explains.
Carroll is a longtime supporter of the ACS. “Bill’s record in ACS governance now spans over twenty years,” Les McQuire, global program team director at Novartis, wrote in his nomination letter. Posts held include ACS president in 2005 and 12 years on the Board of Directors including three as chair. In 2016, Bill and his wife endowed a scholarship in their name under the ACS Scholars Program, which supports underrepresented college students who are majoring in chemistry-related disciplines. His current roles include membership of the Committee on Professional Training and the Board of Trustees for the ACS Member Insurance Program.
Carroll is also an ACS Career Consultant. “Bill would tell you that his most rewarding ACS work has been as a career consultant over more than a decade,” McQuire says. In this role, Carroll uses his industry knowledge to prepare students and early-career chemists for industrial careers. He also uses ACS tools to support chemistry students at the Indiana University Bloomington, where he is an adjunct chemistry professor.
Upon retiring, Carroll noticed a gap in ACS support for late-career chemists transitioning into retirement. As a result, he became a certified professional retirement coach and wrote a workshop for ACS members planning for, or early in, their retirement. This workshop is now included in the Career Pathways portfolio.
Reflecting on his career so far, Carroll says: “Throughout my career, whether in industry or ACS, I saw a whole world of opportunities.”
This story was updated on July 18, 2022, to add the Carroll family's role as a donor to the ACS Scholars Program.