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Comment: Senior chemists at ACS Fall 2023

by Robert A. Yokley, chair, ACS Senior Chemists Committee
August 31, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 29


Photo of Robert A Yokley.
Credit: Phyllis Yokley
Robert A. Yokley

The American Chemical Society’s Senior Chemists Committee (SCC) continues to focus on its vision of senior chemists giving back and its mission of serving people through senior chemists’ knowledge and experience.

The SCC was very active during ACS Fall 2023 in San Francisco. An inaugural presidential event, the Senior Chemists Lounge, was held Sunday afternoon to provide beverages, snacks, and camaraderie for anyone needing a break from their busy ACS meeting schedule. An SCC-sponsored symposium, “Bassam Shakhashiri: A Leader in Science Education and Literacy,” also began Sunday afternoon and continued throughout the day Monday. The program had 18 speakers and was a nice way to tribute an outstanding educator.

The SCC hosted a booth in the exhibition hall where visitors could learn about the committee and how a local section can start a senior chemists’ group. For those still seeking that information, the SCC makes available a manual about how to start a senior chemists’ group: Chairs of active senior chemists’ groups should send a message to Having this updated contact information will ensure that the SCC is able to communicate with local sections and share ideas and activities that support senior chemists.

Did you know there is an SCC and Younger Chemists Committee comentoring program?

The Senior Chemists’ Breakfast was held Tuesday morning in San Francisco, and about 85 people attended. After breakfast, Alex Filippenko, a professor in the astronomy department at the University of California, Berkeley, gave a presentation, “Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe.” Filippenko has participated in over 120 science documentaries and is frequently featured in the History Channel series The Universe, as well as in the series How the Universe Works. He shared that he initially studied chemistry but switched to astronomy near the end of his first year in college. More than an hour after his presentation, he was still answering questions from attendees. Senior Chemists Breakfasts are held during spring and fall ACS meetings and are partially subsidized by the ACS Office of Philanthropy. We hope to see you at a future breakfast.

The ChemLuminary Awards ceremony was held Tuesday evening. The Midland Local Section won the Best Continuing Senior Chemists Activity Award, and the Philadelphia Local Section took the Best New Senior Chemists Activity Award. Congratulations to those sections, and be sure to nominate your section’s senior chemists’ group for an award in your annual report.

Nonmeeting updates

Did you know there is an SCC and Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) comentoring program? Launched in May 2021, this activity pairs a YCC member and an SCC member according to mutual interests and a desire to mentor each other. The pair typically get together virtually once a month. The program has been a rewarding experience for the participants and is expected to continue beyond 2023.

The SCC continues to provide minigrants to help local sections conduct activities that involve senior chemists. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect (DEIR) Grants are awarded to entities other than local sections that engage and involve senior chemists and students from underrepresented communities. Two minigrants and three DEIR Grants were funded for 2023. The SCC also provides funding to ACS regional meetings that host senior chemist–focused activities.

Another SCC initiative is Great Connections. Senior chemists expose third to fifth graders from underrepresented communities to chemistry through a demonstration of the effects of temperature on a glow stick. The class is also provided with the materials to perform the experiment. You, the presenter, are provided a script that can be delivered in person or virtually. The ACS Committee on Community Affairs has prepared a video to describe this demonstration. It’s available at Send the teacher’s name and email, as well as the school mailing address, to so the necessary supplies can be sent. Be sure to include your contact information as well.

If you have questions or comments for SCC, please feel free to contact me at

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


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