On a recent flight, I watched the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. In the film, a protagonist attempting to balance the demands of her business and her family is suddenly pulled into the metaverse. Once there, she sees many different versions of herself, each one a result of her making a different decision at a critical time in her life. By traversing the metaverse, she can harness the collective talents of each version of herself, to become the greatest version of them all. While we may not be able to tap into the metaverse, we do have a tremendous resource—the American Chemical Society—that expands our ability to improve ourselves.
ACS is the place for everything related to the chemistry enterprise. The ACS Strategic Plan highlights the society’s vision for “improving all people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” ACS is poised to do this through a variety of high-quality programs, products, and services, as well as its extensive member community. Currently, many members do not take full advantage of the opportunities their ACS membership offers.
ACS has resources to support chemists everywhere, throughout their careers. The organizational structure of ACS comprises local sections, technical divisions, and committees. Local sections provide members with professional development, leadership experiences, and networking opportunities in specific geographic areas. ACS members who reside in the US and Canada are automatically members of a local section. Check out your local section programming, attend an outreach event such as National Chemistry Week, or get involved to help develop new activities. I have found participating in my local section to be a wonderful way to network with chemists in my area and learn about events and opportunities relevant to my career. Similarly, International Chemical Sciences Chapters provide ways for chemists outside the US and Canada to network with their communities and leverage the resources of ACS.
ACS has 32 technical divisions to help members stay current with trends and develop professionally within their discipline. These divisions offer programming at ACS spring and fall meetings and specialty conferences. Many offer webinars and seminars that members can access online. Divisional membership fees start at $12.50 per year, and new ACS members can join up to three divisions for free for 1 year. I am currently a member of four divisions; each provides me with resources for technically focused professional development and networking opportunities, both virtually and in person.
ACS governance includes the board of directors, council, and committees. As the chief governing body of ACS, the board has a charter to “have, hold, and administer all the property, funds, and affairs of the society.” The council is a “popular deliberative assembly of the society” and includes councilors, elected by local sections and divisions, who carry out duties as described in the ACS constitution and bylaws. Committees are the backbone of ACS, providing new ideas and alternative viewpoints, as well as contributing significantly to the execution of many programs and events. There are nearly 40 ACS committees; they cover a broad variety of concerns, including the Women Chemists Committee, the Committee on Chemical Safety, and the Committee on International Activities. Any ACS member in good standing can join a committee. Complete the committee preference form by July 3, and be sure to describe your skills and the perspectives that you would bring to committees of interest.
ACS has many things going on all at once. ACS publishes a myriad of digital content. Recent ACS webinars have covered a variety of technical topics including COVID-19, pharmaceuticals, and sustainability, and nontechnical subjects such as immigration, reproductive health, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect. I recently shared my thoughts on Black women’s influence on the chemistry enterprise in a webinar called “No More Hidden Figures.” The ACS Institute offers on-demand content on topics such as leadership development, lab safety, science communication, and volunteer development. I highly recommend the course on peer review, as it is useful for those writing or reviewing manuscripts.
Throughout my professional life, I have participated in many ACS activities, and I certainly credit my decision to join ACS for changing the trajectory of my career and augmenting my professional growth in many positive ways. I cannot even imagine the version of myself I would have become without ACS. By actively engaging with ACS, you have the power to propel your career as a chemist to its fullest potential. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to seize the opportunity. And if you still have some free time after that, do check out the movie.
Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.