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Announcing a new ChemLuminary Award on sustainability

by Chris Avery, chair, ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement
August 8, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 29


A photo of Chris Avery.
Credit: Courtesy of Chris Avery
Chris Avery

As part of its mission, the American Chemical Society interacts with policy makers, including those in the US Congress, to influence policies and legislation that affect the chemical enterprise. As a significant voice in the scientific world, ACS has long sought to educate policy makers on how important chemistry and the chemical enterprise are to a wide range of policy and legislative topics. To do this, ACS develops position statements that provide talking points for individuals involved in the policy-setting and legislative process. These statements span the breadth of issues important to the chemical enterprise, including sustainability and environmental improvement, education, and innovation. However, many ACS members may be unfamiliar with these statements and their influence on policy makers. The society is therefore introducing a new award aimed at raising the profile of these tools.

If you have never looked at official policy statements from ACS, I strongly encourage you to check them out at They cover a wide gamut of topics, needs, interests, and priorities for ACS. Yet these statements evolve as conditions change. In fact, continuing to develop and update them is one of the most important charges undertaken by certain ACS units, including the Committee on Environmental Improvement (CEI).

ACS has long sought to educate policy makers on how important chemistry and the chemical enterprise are to a wide range of policy and legislative topics.

CEI particularly focuses on the category of sustainability and the environment (, which includes topics like climate change, critical materials, water, and sustainability. The climate change statement, for example, is hugely valuable and important for ACS. You can (and should) read it ( Policy statements like this one are the product of hundreds of hours of discussion, development, and deliberation by ACS members. Many members, including the ACS Board of Directors, have come together to speak to influential people about the issues in these statements and to ask for a better world.

To date, the focus and purpose of these statements has been to inform the federal government—specifically Congress—about what ACS thinks and what scientific consensus shows on any given topic. Now, however, we are hoping to make these policy statements more broadly useful to the ACS community writ large. In addition, CEI and the ACS Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs (CCPA) want to make the ACS membership as well as the general public more aware of the society’s role in promoting sustainability and the environment.

Thus, I am pleased to announce that CEI and CCPA have worked jointly to establish a new ChemLuminary Award highlighting the role and influence of chemistry on sustainability. The award will be presented for the first time in 2022 for projects completed in 2021. ACS units can nominate projects for the award through the annual report submission process. CCPA will suspend its current ChemLuminary Award while piloting this new one.

This award recognizes a local section, technical division, international chapter, student chapter, or regional meeting for an outstanding activity that advocates for, promotes, or develops awareness of sustainability policy statements from ACS and the role or influence of chemistry on their implementation.

Nominations for this ChemLuminary Award should address the following questions:

Which ACS position statements on sustainability were addressed?

What target groups were informed about this policy, e.g., government, public decision maker, academia, industry, nongovernmental organization, or chemistry community?

What actions were taken or activities completed to make the targeted groups aware of the policy and its implications? Descriptions of the planning efforts and presentations, as well as attendance by the targeted groups, should be included.

How was the role of chemistry highlighted as you discussed the position statements with the targeted groups?

What are the expected outcomes and broader impacts of the activities?

In order to support your ACS unit in this effort, CEI confers mini grants ( on ACS local sections to support programming related to sustainability and environmental improvement. Please consider applying for one of these grants to help support activities that would be eligible for the new ChemLuminary Award. CEI has regularly funded activities such as lectures, community events, educational events, travel awards, and more. The only limit is your imagination and your willingness to ask for our support.

We are ready to help you take advantage of this opportunity. Please reach out to us at for help or information on this exciting project.

We encourage you to develop programming that fosters awareness of the ACS position statements and highlights the importance of promoting sustainability and environmental improvement in chemistry. We encourage you to be bold and innovative. We look forward to reviewing nominations for the new ChemLuminary Award when you submit your 2021 annual report.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.



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