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Celebrating 2019 collaborations, and a note of thanks

by Bonnie Charpentier, ACS President
November 23, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 46


Photo of Bonnie Charpentier.
Credit: Courtesy of Bonnie Charpentier
Bonnie Charpentier

In November 2018, while I was American Chemical Society president-elect, I wrote a Comment describing opportunities for collaboration in 2019. It has been wonderful to see the variety and scope of ACS’s collaborations throughout the year and to anticipate those yet to come.

The International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT) created an opportunity for collaborations both internationally and locally. We started the year with the IYPT kickoff at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris. The January celebration involved organizations from many different countries. In addition, throughout the year, ACS has sponsored a variety of IYPT activities and programs, including online educational resources for kindergarten through postdoctoral levels. ACS curated a calendar of IYPT-related events, which is available at

ACS local sections and regional meetings joined in on the celebration with periodic table–themed programs. Several local sections obtained proclamations recognizing IYPT and acknowledging the value of chemistry in state legislatures, in local governments, and to the public. Our international chapters and student affiliates all over the world also held exciting IYPT outreach programs. National Chemistry Week incorporated the periodic table of elements into its “Marvelous Metals” theme. And on Nov. 20, ACS and the National Science Foundation hosted a colloquium celebrating 150 years of the periodic table. Scientists shared their perspectives on the history of the periodic table, discoveries that have shaped society, current trends in chemistry research, and opportunities that will impact the future.

The closing ceremony for IYPT will take place in Tokyo in December, and plans are underway to build on the energy established during IYPT to continue collaborations in future years.

A second unifying theme has been the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). In my visits with local sections, international chapters, and scientific societies around the world, I’ve been energized by the discussions of how chemistry can help achieve the SDGs. This focus seems to resonate with our members, particularly with younger chemists and students. It also resonates around the world as shown, for example, by conversations with students and other attendees of the Federation of African Societies of Chemistry meeting in Botswana. These are global goals, and ACS is now basing its agreements with other chemistry societies on programs tied to the SDGs (the agreements, formerly called memoranda of understanding, are now known as Chemistry Enterprise Partnerships).

Collaboration has been an important aspect of my relationships with other members of the presidential succession and the ACS Board. I believe cooperation among those in ACS leadership positions is very important for establishing sustainable programs. During the year, I expanded on areas of focus of my predecessors, including ACS immediate past president Peter Dorhout’s focus on safety, and former ACS president Allison Campbell’s focus on advocacy. The focus on safety was expanded to safety and the environment, and I am happy to note that the Safety Summit is continuing into its third year in 2020.

I believe cooperation among those in ACS leadership positions is very important for establishing sustainable programs.

In the area of advocacy, ACS now offers training at regional meetings on how to communicate effectively with legislators, and the ACS website now provides links to nonpartisan resources on how to run for political office. ACS president-elect Luis Echegoyen has noted his support for growing this effort.

I’d like to thank the technical division members who have worked with me to establish new and continuing programming collaborations across divisions, including those divisions that were already modeling this way of programming. The breakfast I sponsored in Boston in 2018 to encourage collaborative cross-divisional programming at national meetings has become a continuing and well-attended event. I admit to some bias here, but I think that collaborations among divisions on programming can result in more interesting and better-attended sessions at our meetings. I look forward to seeing what interesting ideas and symposia come out of the continuing cooperative efforts, as well as the positive impact on regional meeting programming.

Finally, in this time of Thanksgiving, thank you to all of you who have collaborated with me on new ideas, approaches, and solutions. The position I have had the honor to hold this year is among the most fun and energizing roles within an organization. Thank you again for the opportunity, and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

As always, please contact me with any ideas and suggestions at

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



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