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Comment: The future of ACS meetings

by Amber S. Hinkle, Chair, Committee on Meetings and Expositions
April 8, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 11


Amber S. Hinkle.
Credit: Courtesy of Christine Bren Schmidt
Amber S. Hinkle

The American Chemical Society Committee on Meetings and Expositions (M&E) is responsible for the meetings function of ACS. This committee works closely with the ACS Department of Meetings and Expositions Services to ensure that ACS is a successful convener for the chemistry enterprise, where individuals can share science and network. The vision of M&E is “meetings that advance the global chemistry enterprise.” Toward that end, the committee’s mission is to “provide premiere meeting venues and platforms to amplify interdisciplinary chemical sciences and networking that are accessible and inclusive for all.” One primary focus for M&E is the ACS Future of Meetings (FoM) initiative.

ACS has been actively working to reimagine ACS meetings and how they need to evolve through the year 2030. Last year, the FoM initiative began as a collaboration between M&E, the Divisional Activities Committee, program chairs, ACS staff, and other stakeholders. The working group has also grown to include the ACS Committee on Science. Key FoM goals are to provide value, address meeting pain points, and be more relevant to all ACS meeting stakeholders, including attendees, presenters, exhibitors, and the broader chemistry enterprise.

ACS Future of Meetings (FoM) initiative

For a graphic overview of the ACS Future of Meetings (FoM) initiative, view our FoM infographic.

After meeting with key stakeholders in 2023, the FoM working group developed a strategic operational plan to guide the initiative’s efforts. This approved plan includes three program formats that organizers could implement at any of the spring or fall meetings or run in parallel.

The Enhanced Program is for divisions that have already successfully achieved the desired future-state outcomes with their existing program. With the Enhanced Program, divisions can continue with their current approach to programming while also addressing major current-state pain points.

The Innovative Program is for divisions that want to be innovative and believe they would have increased success with innovation.

The Digital Experience Program is envisioned to drive global and virtual engagement from both an attendee and organizer perspective.

Our goal is to continue improving ACS meetings in ways that stay fresh and current.

The Enhanced Program will address pain points raised by key stakeholders. The program will provide a more focused meeting footprint, an easier-to-navigate meeting experience, greater collaborative and interdisciplinary programming, and elevated poster sessions and presentations. The meetings will continue to broadcast the Kavli and plenary lectures, and there will be enhanced networking opportunities.

The Innovative Program will be market driven and give ACS the flexibility to evolve according to the needs of our diverse audiences. The program will help address industry needs by providing additional networking opportunities, more career-related activities, and increased solutions-driven and interdisciplinary programming. The Innovative Program will also feature new meeting program session formats that promote increased engagement, such as fireside chats and panel discussions.

The Enhanced and the Innovative Programs will have joint networking events, allowing attendees from these programs to engage with each other. The ACS expositions will continue to evolve and remain a vibrant location for offering insights, revealing discoveries, and providing opportunities to engage. We will also have a fully integrated schedule and consider roundtable discussions that cross both programs. Through marketing, we will ensure that attendees understand the differences between the two programs.

The Digital Experience Program aims to increase global engagement by creating a distinct group of global, virtually engaged program chairs focused solely on the digital experience. This group will develop a more robust online offering to drive attendance from international and virtual audiences. ACS piloted this model for ACS Spring 2024. The Digital Experience programming pilot featured symposia from organizers in Israel, Spain, and India and was held in local time zones.

Implementation of the Future of Meetings initiative has begun in 2024. In January, a joint programming workshop that focused on building collaborative programs for 2025 was held with 43 representatives from ACS divisions and committees. Additionally, organizers conducted several successful pilots at the ACS Spring 2024 meeting and are planning more for ACS Fall 2024 in Denver.

We expect several benefits from implementing this operational plan. The overarching benefit is creating a more significant experience for members and attendees by providing an engaging experience and the opportunity to showcase the value of ACS membership. The success of this initiative can be measured by:

More participation and diversity across all demographics

Increased attendee engagement and improved overall meeting experience

Increased interdisciplinary programming

Greater attendance, focus, and participation from industry, global and early career chemists, and students.

Our goal is to continue improving ACS meetings in ways that stay fresh and current. We welcome your feedback on this initiative. Please share your thoughts at

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


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