If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Highlighting the chemical technical professional

by Jennifer McCulley, chair, ACS Committee on Technician Affairs
June 26, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 24

As we reflect upon the past year, the American Chemical Society Committee on Technician Affairs (CTA) recognizes the immense value that chemical technical professionals (CTPs) have brought to the chemistry enterprise. The fact is, today, CTPs make up the majority of people working on-site in laboratories. Their work can include collecting, preparing, and analyzing samples on instruments; performing noninstrument sample analysis; and conducting experiments. Chemical technicians are the quintessential linchpin of the lab.

A picture of Jennifer McCulley.
Credit: George A. Reiner
Jennifer McCulley

The committee had the pleasure of hearing several CTPs share their successes and challenges in research and development, quality control, and other vital technical roles. During the ACS Spring 2021 virtual meeting, at a symposium titled “Quantity and Quality: Insights and Research from Chemical Technical Professionals,” which was sponsored by the Division of Analytical Chemistry, several CTPs presented their contributions, successes, and challenges in the analytical chemistry field. The speakers appreciated the opportunity to present, and for a few it was their first time presenting at a conference. During the ACS Fall 2020 virtual meeting, CTA sponsored a panel session in which members shared insights on their jobs. Early- and midcareer analytical chemists learned about new ideas for their career development, and individuals interested in chemical industrial careers got a glimpse into the field. There were four networking sessions with special topics each day of the conference. Topics included career advice, a day in the life of a CTP, and navigating COVID-19 guidelines in the lab. The sessions received positive feedback, and one participant stated that as a result, they gained confidence during a career transition.

ACS membership offers chemical technical professionals many opportunities to connect, engage, and grow.

Over the years, the committee has recognized many CTPs with the National Chemical Technician Award (NCTA). The award honors excellence and professionalism among technicians, operators, analysts, and other applied chemical technology professionals. The committee evaluated nominations primarily on technical achievement, leadership, mentoring, communications and publications, awards, community activities, and contributions to quality, safety, and other initiatives. Nita Xu of Dow was selected by CTA as the 2021 award winner. As the committee read Xu’s nomination, it was clear that she’s highly committed and dedicated to her work. Xu’s patents and products, her dedication to safety, and her willingness to mentor others made her a standout choice for the national award.

In addition to the NCTA, CTA and the Younger Chemists Committee partnered to grant younger chemists with travel awards to attend the ACS Leadership Institute. The institute supports and enhances the creation of leaders at ACS. Recipients of the grant are given the chance to highlight the role of CTPs and serve as strong leaders for future roles in industry, academia, and ACS.

The committee serves to help with professional development activities for CTPs. Local section leaders and CTPs interested in organizing activities are invited to find inspiration in several CTA activities. A few to consider are networking sessions, career panels, benefits-of-membership messaging, and speaker invitations. Activities can be nominated for the 2022 ChemLuminary Award for Best Event or Activity Organized by, or Benefiting, the Applied Chemical Technology Professional Community. The ChemLuminary Awards are an esteemed program that recognizes ACS local sections, regional meetings, divisions, and international chapters for their extraordinary work in promoting chemistry and the chemical sciences.

ACS membership offers CTPs many opportunities to connect, engage, and grow. The salary calculator, résumé-writing resources, interview strategies, and career consultants are all valuable resources to CTPs. One CTA committee member stated, “Membership in a professional organization such as ACS is essential for a chemical industrial technician or professional who wants to maximize his or her career potential.”

ACS membership also provides opportunities for CTPs to gain and enhance their leadership skills by taking leadership courses or accepting a leadership position through local section committees (such as Technicians Group, Industry, or Career) or national committees such as CTA, the Local Section Activities Committee, or the Membership Affairs Committee.

CTA uses social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn to communicate resources that would benefit CTPs. Topics include project management, communication, and presentation skills. In today’s world of being overwhelmed with information, our constituents can look to these channels for information filtered for their needs.

The committee is looking for consultants and volunteers who can guide CTA toward its vision and mission to support and advance the chemical technical professional through career development. For information on CTA, please visit our website at Feel free to contact the committee at

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



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.