A few weeks ago, I met some fellow American Chemical Society members at the Northeast Regional Meeting of ACS in Boston. I presented a poster about the ACS Committee on Ethics (ETHX) at two poster sessions, which allowed me to highlight our committee’s accomplishments, resources, and services. In the discussions I had during these sessions, I learned more about member needs and concerns. It was humbling to realize how many members are interested in efforts by the society to promote ethical professional conduct.
At this meeting, I also learned that some ACS members are not aware of the unique opportunities for leadership training, networking, mentoring, and service open to everyone through the ACS committee system. As a member of several leading professional societies, I believe that ACS stands alone in the myriad opportunities it offers its members for engagement. You will find a list of ACS committees at cenm.ag/committees.
The mission of ETHX (acsethics.org) is to provide and promote “resources and activities that educate, guide, and recognize chemists in ethical decision making.” ETHX—like most ACS committees—is composed primarily of voting members, nonvoting associates, and consultants. Some ETHX members also serve as liaisons to other committees when the two groups are working together on projects that promote discussion of ethical issues facing various subsets of ACS.
ETHX meets in a hybrid format at the ACS spring and fall meetings to discuss and finalize the committee’s activities. We hold open meetings, meaning all interested ACS members can attend to learn more about our work. At ACS Fall 2023 in San Francisco, our open meeting will take place on Sunday, Aug. 13, 4:00–5:00 p.m. (EDT).
Like many ACS committees, ETHX does much of its work through subcommittees, composed of ETHX members and associates, which operate outside of national meetings. As well as meeting at the ACS spring and fall meetings, the full committee meets virtually several times a year to ensure that we are on track and to make sure everyone is aware of what we are doing as a committee. I am proud that our committee has truly embraced diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect as core values. We start all our meetings with an inclusion moment, which helps us be in the moment, create community, and learn about one another.
One of ETHX’s main focuses is education through meeting programming. We have a strong record of producing high-quality symposia. We work in partnership with other ACS units, including the Division of Chemical Information and the Division of Professional Relations, which has its own ethics subdivision. For ACS Fall 2023, the programming subcommittee, led by Glenn Larkin, is coorganizing three symposia:
▸ The Effect of AI on Science: Classroom to Publication to Boardroom. PRES, ETHX, PROF, CELL, MPPG, BMGT, CINF, ComSci, Corporate Associates. Organizers: Glenn Larkin and Alicia Harris. August 14.
▸ Combating Science Mis- and Dis-Information. CINF. Organizers: Judith Currano, Jospeh Sabol. August 15.
▸ Mentorship, ACS, and Us. PRES, CELL, ETHX, MPPG, PROF. Organizers: Glenn Larkin, Kelly Elkins. August 15.
We are always looking for ideas for future meetings. If you have an idea for—or would like to organize—a symposium, please email us at email@example.com.
While ACS spring and fall meetings are important to some ACS members, local section meetings play an important role for many others, particularly students and early-career members. One way we encourage and support ethics-related local section programming is through the ETHX ChemLuminary award: Outstanding Local Section Programming Related to the Promotion of Ethics in Chemistry. Our website has many ideas for personal, classroom, and local section activities, including a report by ETHX history subcommittee chair Svetlana Korolev on ETHX’s accomplishments since its inception in 2006.
A new project that we are excited about is a joint venture with the Division of Chemical Health and Safety. Together, this year we created and implemented the new Undergraduate Award for Excellence in Chemical Safety and Ethics. The award recognizes undergraduates in the chemical professions who have “actively demonstrated the intersectionality between chemical safety and ethical behavior.” Chemical safety isn’t just about rule compliance; it’s also a matter of everyone consistently doing the right thing with regard to oneself and one’s peers. In 2023, the undergraduate award subcommittee, led by subcommittee chair Marisa Sanders, recognized 22 worthy seniors from colleges and universities across the US and Canada. Nominations for the 2024 award will open in a few months, so stay tuned for more information.
ETHX members look forward to seeing you at an upcoming ACS meeting. If you share our passion for inculcating a culture of ethics throughout the chemistry enterprise, we are keenly interested in helping you find your place in ACS. We deeply wish to help you find engagement and satisfaction with your ACS membership through service on ETHX.
Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.