This year, as American Chemical Society president-elect, I have had the opportunity to communicate with ACS members in many venues. These conversations have helped inform and energize my plans for 2019, my presidential year. Thank you to those who have shared their ideas and priorities with me.
The strength, dedication, and hard work of ACS volunteers is a powerful force for the society, our science, our communities, and the world. This strength is magnified through collaborations across ACS and with groups outside ACS. My professional work in drug development has also taught me the power of teams partnering across disciplines for a common goal of improving the lives of patients. This background has prompted me to choose the overarching theme of collaborations for 2019, both actively establishing and growing alliances and developing an understanding of what works and doesn’t work in different types of collaborations.
I have two broad areas of focus for 2019: advocacy, and safety and the environment.
In the area of advocacy, these times demand that we stand up for science and support education. ACS has historically had strong programs for advising Congress, such as Capitol Hill visits, the recently established Chemistry Caucuses in the House and Senate, and other policy efforts at the national level.
In 2019, I plan to focus on increasing our advocacy effectiveness at the state and local level, encouraging and supporting members to meet with their national legislators at their home offices and strengthening our advocacy to state legislators, particularly in support of science education. I am fortunate to be able to build on the advocacy workshops begun by ACS Immediate Past President Allison Campbell. There is much to be done. I ask each of you to get involved with advocacy efforts. Go to www.acs.org and click on Advocacy to learn more.
Given the striking lack of scientists in Congress and elsewhere in the political process, I want to provide tools and information for our members who are interested in getting more involved in the political process and running for office at any level. I’ve met with the ACS Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations and with ACS staff to discuss effective, nonpartisan approaches.
Regarding safety and the environment, several programming initiatives are underway. In this area I am fortunate to be able to build on the laboratory safety focus of ACS President Peter Dorhout, and I now seek to broaden that scope. For programming at national meetings in 2019, I encourage divisions to partner on joint programming. My intent is to work through the units already doing programming to address themes of interest without establishing additional, competing sessions. I sponsored a breakfast at the national meeting in Boston for division program chairs and others involved with programming at national meetings to provide a venue for program collaboration. The response was enthusiastic, and we identified opportunities for cosponsored symposia. We also discussed future tools to facilitate program collaborations and opportunities for divisions to participate in regional meeting programming.
Some symposia themes under development for 2019 include “Bridging the (Safety) Gap between Academia & Industry,” “Chemical Safety Issues in Disaster Recovery,” and “Safety & the Environment—Chemistry’s Impact on Water.” My thanks to the Division of Chemical Health & Safety for taking the lead in working on these themes and collaborating with other divisions for cross-disciplinary programming. As someone who grew up in hurricane country and now lives where the threat of wildfires and earthquakes is constant, I recognize the importance of chemistry in disaster preparation and recovery and the need to support our members and their communities postdisaster. The ongoing challenges with water on this planet are a topic that cannot get too much attention. The Division of Business Development & Management is planning a symposium to develop an understanding of what works and doesn’t work in different types of collaborations between and among industry, academia, and government laboratories.
As I’m sure you all know, 2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT), as declared by the United Nations, recognizing the 150th anniversary of the proposal of the periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev. We’ll be working across ACS and with the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry and chemical societies around the world to celebrate the anniversary. IYPT provides a focus for collaborations with chemical societies worldwide and fun opportunities for our members and scientists around the globe, particularly for outreach to students and the public. Ideas shared so far include projecting a gigantic periodic table on the side of a building, placing large fabric cubes with information about individual elements in a town plaza, and incorporating music, including revamping the periodic table dance from 2011 (see “Chemists Can DANCE!” on YouTube). ACS IYPT celebrations will include contests, technical programming, themed gifts and giveaways, public engagement campaigns, and more. I encourage all members to share their plans and to learn more by visiting www.acs.org/iypt or by contacting us at email@example.com. You can also tag social media posts using #IYPT2019.
Please share any other ideas or suggestions you have for ACS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.