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Comment: I’m not fooling! The wonderful world of chemistry needs us all. Maybe now more than ever

by Judith Giordan, ACS immediate past president
March 28, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 10


Judith C. Giordan.
Credit: Linda Wang
Judith C. Giordan

It takes a certain amount of humor, courage, or both to be the ACS immediate past president and write my final C&EN Comment for April Fools’ Day. Can you trust what I am saying? Am I providing accurate data? Making a cringeworthy chemistry joke? Or am I just expecting some sort of a reaction? Or a HeHe?

April Fools’ Day or not, I’m not fooling around when I say—as I have been since campaigning for ACS president—that now more than ever, society needs the solutions that chemists create. And creating and rolling out those solutions needs all of us! So without being CuTe, let me share some sobering but hopeful data and then some new ways all of us can get involved.

All it takes is trust—in science and scientists. As scientists, we are passionate about pushing forward to new frontiers and creating useful, safe, and sustainable innovations to address key global challenges. Yet that is not enough. As scientists, we will need to continue to find better, more effective, and more trusted ways of communicating the relevance, safety, and value of our work. Because despite the best effort of all STEM professionals, even the greatest of scientific innovations cannot achieve their highest purpose if people don’t trust and believe in the science and the scientists telling the story.

As scientists, we are passionate about pushing forward to new frontiers and creating useful, safe, and sustainable innovations to address key global challenges.

According to a CNN article about a 2023 study by the Pew Research Center, “The percent of American adults who say science has a ‘mostly positive’ effect on society fell to 57%, down 8 percentage points since November 2021 and 16 percentage points since just before the pandemic.” Yet a 2024 study by the Edelman Trust Barometershows that scientists enjoy some amount of trust by the public, with 74% of respondents saying they trust scientists to tell the truth. But the data also reveal that innovation itself may be in peril, with the perception that politics has too much influence on science. Fortunately, the report says there are ways we can restore trust in innovation and science, and many of these suggested solutions are ones on which we are already working.

So what can we do? We can ensure innovations are managed well and transitioned from research to trusted technical solutions, and support business to build on its trusted position to integrate innovations into practical use. As scientists, we can build on our position as trusted and reliable sources for science and innovation by gaining the skills to engage in constructive dialogue with nonscientists on challenging topics. As well as listening for and respecting the concerns of others, especially on some of the most potentially controversial subjects, such as vaccines, artificial intelligence, and climate change.

How to get involved and further “Trust in Science and Scientists” with new options to gain skills and insights. Stay tuned as ACS rolls out new options for all members to get involved and help increase trust in science and in the innovations and solutions scientists create based on work done during my presidential term.

This spring, watch for a free email course based on the face-to-face Trust in Science workshops that were held at regional, fall, and spring meetings in 2022 through 2024. Learn skills and tips to better listen to, respect, and communicate with nonscientists to help raise trust in science.

Later this year, stay tuned for a digital storytelling series with insights on why trust in science and scientists is so important and what companies, scholars, and regular people are doing to help improve that trust.

Apply for a new Trust in Science grant. The Division of Professional Relations, the Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs, and the Committee on Public Relations and Communications have come together to create a roundtable to fund grants for ACS groups interested in building new programs on trust in science. Learn more and apply for one at And watch out for a C&EN Comment on this opportunity later this year.

Apply for a regional meeting neXus grant through the Division of Business Development and Management and bring together chemists from industry, academia, government labs, and start-ups to collaborate and develop trusted and regionally relevant innovations and solutions.

Gain insights in everything from business to boranes—and use those insights to further dialogues with nonscientists—by booking a speaker for your local section, student chapter, or international chapter through the Speaker Directory.

Get involved! The time has never been better for you to find your voice to help increase trust in science and scientists and create solutions to global challenges based on research. Because when we work together, we can all create the future we want to have! No fooling.

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



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