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ACS Meeting News

ACS hosts Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting

Despite the changes brought on by the pandemic, society shows that the meeting must go on—albeit virtually

by Linda Wang
August 20, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 32


Screenshot of the virtual ACS Booth
Credit: ACS
The virtual ACS Booth looked very much like the real thing.

From the comfort of their home offices, or, in fact, anywhere they wanted, more than 6,400 people attended the ACS Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo, which was held Aug. 17–20. The meeting, originally scheduled to take place in San Francisco, was moved to an online platform due to concerns related to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

More than 4,100 papers were presented virtually by 29 divisions and 6 committees. The meeting’s theme was “Moving Chemistry from Bench to Market.”

ACS fall virtual meeting by the numbers (as of Aug. 20)

Attendance: 6,477

Papers presented: 4,143

Exhibiting companies: 65

The virtual kickoff event on Monday featured TED-style talks by Dave Heldebrant of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Malika Jeffries-EL of Boston University, Richard Mackman of Gilead Sciences, and Melissa Moore of Moderna. On Tuesday, Bryan Barton of DuPont delivered the Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry Lecture. And on Wednesday, Ben Feringa of the University of Groningen presented the Fred Kavli Innovations in Chemistry Lecture.

During the ACS Kids Zone Presidential Outreach Event on Saturday, chemistry educators performed virtual demonstrations for children and their parents watching at home. Highlights included 2020 Miss America, Camille Schrier, making slime using borax and glue, and chemistry teacher Jonte Lee building batteries using lemons. Lee’s fame shot up recently after he transformed his kitchen into a science lab and began broadcasting experiments on Instagram.

Photo of Miss America Camille Schrier doing an outreach activity.
Credit: ACS
Miss America Camille Schrier shows kids how to make slime.

Nearly 300 posters were presented during the Sci-Mix session on Tuesday night, with presenters answering questions that attendees sent in through a chat box. In addition, undergraduates presented more than 80 posters during the Undergraduate Poster Session on Wednesday evening.

The Expo showcased products and services from 65 exhibitors, and the ACS Booth featured a 3-D experience, complete with presentations in the virtual theater. Elsewhere in the meeting, attendees filled virtual networking rooms for social hours and other activities. Attendees could also visit a virtual photo booth to share photos of themselves with Meg A. Mole or Professor Molenium.

ACS Council held its meeting virtually on Wednesday. The Committee on Budget and Finance reported that as of July 31, 2020, ACS’s total revenues were $354.3 million, which is ahead of 2019. Year-to-date total expenses were below 2019, at $298.5 million, and net contribution from operations was at $55.8 million, $25 million greater than the same period in 2019. ACS expects to finish 2020 on budget.

The council voted to disband the Joint Board-Council Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service. It also voted to approve the petition to clarify amendments to the standing rules, which aims to ensure consistency in ACS’s governing documents. In addition, the council voted to approve the formation of the Israel International Chemical Sciences Chapter. All council actions are subject to approval by the ACS Board of Directors.

On-demand presentations will be available for viewing by registered attendees until Aug. 28. After that date, presenters who opted to do so will have their abstracts and presentations archived in SciMeetings, ACS’s open-access platform for sharing content from scientific meetings.


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